12 Angry Men

“Life is in their hands and death is in their minds”. Thus states a poster of the film I was recommended to watch by my movie-maniac friend. I heard it’s a black and white movie and had been shot entirely inside one room. Well, quite out of the way right, so I decided to give it a try and thus went on for the one hour thirty six minute ride. At the end of it I was left with questions like how come I missed this movie all these years and why hadn’t I heard of Henry Fonda before.

12 angry men starts with a worm’s eye view shot of the United States courthouse, giving us a false sense that it is going to deal with law related subjects. We are then taken to a courtroom where the fate of a boy who had allegedly killed his father is been given to the hands of a jury, consisting of only men. Among these men is one juror, Henry Fonda. The jury retires to their room and we are shown that the weather is very hot and that the only fan in the room is out of order. These may preliminarily seem to be insignificant observations, but as the movie progresses we understand that they play an important role in mentally aggravating the already chaotic situation and provoking heated conversations. While all men are convinced that the boy is guilty of murder charge it is Fonda who opposes them single-handedly saying he doesn’t know if the boy is guilty or otherwise but that it is their responsibility to give him a fair discussion and enough thought before coming to an unanimous  verdict. Thus begins a series of heated discussions sprinkled with slapstick comedy here and there without meaning to destroy the crux of the plot. Also beautifully shown is the mental instability of the jurors as new interpretations are drawn from already presented facts. They are equally spaced for them to sink in the minds of the audience and the changing mindset of the jurors is well synchronized with that of the audience. After all, what is a film if you can’t relate yourself to it?

Coming to the technical aspects of the film, my first appreciation goes to the cinematographer. I am sure he would have had a tough time setting up the frame and composition for each and every shot in a small room filled with 12 men and a couple of light sources. Even though the screenplay cannot be altered much from its linear course, the writers have amazingly built it to suit the mood of both the jurors and the surrounding. The direction unit is effective as can be seen from the coordination of the twelve men, though I wonder how many takes the director would have gone for before approving a shot. The music drawn suits the mood well, we are tensed and surprised when and where we are supposed to be (a special mention goes to a piece made of violin which comes as an emotional supplement when the boy in question is shown).

When the English department of my college decided to screen the film I was more than happy to take the ride a second time. In all, the film is a must-watch and certainly deserves critical appreciation.

The Terrorist – a short fiction

THE TERRORIST

20 May, 1991

Sivarajan was explaining to us the plan in detail. There was a large map of the area on the table around which we were standing, looking at the place marked with a red circle. Thenmozhi Rajaratnam (aka Dhanu) the most important person of the meeting was standing next to him. To my right was my husband, looking over the map with an excitement burning in his eyes.

“Rajiv is expected to reach the place at around ten fifteen,” Sivarajan said.

People were nodding, keenly concentrating on the assassination plan. But my mind was occupied with something else. I had just missed my second period in two months. I hadn’t expected to get pregnant, at least not at this point of time. This was our biggest venture ever since our vigilante organisation launched itself into its active phase. Till the moment I realised I had missed my second consecutive period I didn’t care about human life. I didn’t respect it and I didn’t value it. I did to it what I was told to. But when I realised I was carrying a life within me I realised its importance, its value. I get this feeling that I have no right to take away life.

“Nalini are you listening?” asked Sivarajan from the other side.

“Oh, yes!” I replied.

“He will get out of his white ambassador,” he continued, “and walk to the dais to deliver his campaign speech. He will be garlanded by congressmen and other well-wishers on the way. Dhanu will be among them.”

“You should fall at his feet and detonate the RDX explosive-laden belt that you will be given only minutes before he arrives,” he said to Dhanu.

He straightened a little and looked at her with some hesitation. “You will be remembered by us forever. History will speak of you as the woman who changed the future. Good luck Dhanu!” He said.

She merely nodded her head and smiled a little. I somehow became totally against the whole plan. Is it necessary? It isn’t only Rajiv who will be there. School children will sing a welcome song in all his campaign outings invariably. Innocent people and party workers will be surrounding him. Oh my god! This shouldn’t happen.

I pulled my husband aside and told him that I was pregnant. I thought he would be happy, but he gave a somewhat surprised expression and looked at me for a minute.

“Are you serious?” He asked.

“Of course I am,” I replied.

He shook his head violently and pulled me out of the cottage by my hand.

“Why are you telling this now?” He asked once we were out of earshot, holding my hand tightly.

I didn’t reply to that. After all, what kind of question was that! I was still struggling out of his tight grip. He again shook his head uncontrollably and allowed his left hand to rest over my stomach for a couple of seconds.

“Don’t let anyone know about this,” he said and went inside.

I stood there, not knowing what to do. I couldn’t even think of an abortion. There was already some attachment that I could feel, something heavy inside my heart.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I was thinking of what to do, tossing left and right. I just didn’t know it would be my last night of freedom. Next to me was Dhanu. She wasn’t sleeping either, but for a different reason. It was her last night altogether. Even for people who don’t fear death but welcome it, knowing that it is your last night is an incomparable mental torture.

The night

It was around 8.30 p.m. We were going over the plan for the last time. At the end of it we got into a red omni van and were driven to a small reserve forest area near Sri Perambatur. The journey took an hour and throughout it my husband was giving me looks of apprehension. I just didn’t know if it was my pregnancy that was causing it or our current mission. We got out of the van.

I was sitting on the doorway, my husband and Sivarajan were pacing up and down the road and our two other men were sharing a smoke. Dhanu was standing at the edge of the road; it was so apparent that her mind was occupied with a deep thought while her eyes were just pointed at something far off. I felt a deep pity for her. Will I still be able to turn over the whole plan? Can I convince everyone out of it?  Come on Nalini, it’s now or never.

I got up and went to Sivarajan. I knew my husband will be against whatever I have got to say on calling back the mission.

“What is this she is talking about, Murugan?” shouted Sivarajan once I told him.

My husband came running towards me and looked at me angrily.

“Is this necessary, what we are doing,” I asked them.

“If you want to live with me, stay on the plan. Otherwise you can move on right away.” He said, standing very close to me and whispering in a husky voice.

I couldn’t argue further. If only he had listened to me, we wouldn’t be here for the past twenty two years.

At ten sharp we all assembled back to the van. Sivarajan took the explosive-laden belt from under the back seat and gave it to Dhanu. We all hugged her in turns and started to take positions when Sivarajan called out.

“Wait!” He said, taking out a brown paper parcel, from under the same seat, that we hadn’t set our eyes on till that moment.

We went to him and were each presented with a thin black nylon loop carrying a brown capsule. We knew exactly what it was.

“You know what you should do if we mess it up,” he said.

We took our positions. I was standing along with one of our men at the beginning of the line that was fast growing to welcome Rajiv Gandhi. Dhanu was in its middle with a garland in her hand and a RDX belt laden around her waist. My husband was standing near the podium and Sivarajan with the other man was waiting near the road, taking in all that was happening. Five minutes later we heard a siren sound approaching us. It was all that was required to shoot up all our heart beats.

Rajiv got down from his car and waved his hand high above his head. He carried his usual smile under his nose. He started walking towards us, with two policemen before and after him. A series of garlands were put around his head and didn’t stay there for a long time. He crossed me, smiling at me, not knowing he is about to die in a minute. I turned to the podium and could see two small girls getting ready to sing a welcome song. When I panned my head right I could see Dhanu put the garland over him and fall at his feet. He raised his right hand over her head. Dhanu raised her half-size kurta and pressed a switch under her breasts.

All was over.

Purgatory

Several people were arrested on charges of suspicion. Three people were indicted for the murder conspiracy. Me, my husband and one of the other two men I was mentioning. After about two months of prison life I got to know of Sivarajan’s death. He had consumed cyanide without hesitation when the police had surrounded him in Karnataka.

I lost track of time. It was just light and darkness to me. I couldn’t even monitor my child’s growth except for the growing bulge in my stomach. The male jailors used to stare at me strangely and I feared everyone I came across, even a few women.

I gave birth to a girl child after nine months and twenty six days (I was informed by a good-natured cell keeper of my section). The cell I was kept in sheltered not only me and my daughter but also lots of mosquitoes. I could manage somehow but my new born baby… She used to wail at nights, not able to sleep. And her health was fast depreciating. The prison doctor wasn’t of much help. The same cell keeper got me a mosquito net for my child and took care of her intake. A person I shouldn’t forget.

On the third birthday of my daughter I was approached by a concerned party interested in taking care of my child. Though mother’s love did not allow me to part away from my daughter I couldn’t think of any good future for her in a place like this. So I parted away from her, but not before I kissed her a hundred times and she cried uncontrollably for her part. I was left standing at the visitor’s section with tears rolling down my cheeks.

I was transferred from prison to prison as my case was handled by different Supreme Court judges. I was permitted to visit my husband and daughter once a month. And I was more than happy that my daughter was being brought up at the right place.

I was treated differently at every place I was moved to. Some were overly affectionate and some didn’t even give me a glance. At one prison two jailors even attempted to rape me. I was working in the kitchens (considered a privilege) when two jailors came in and closed the door. One pushed me to the ground and stuffed a waste cloth inside my mouth and the other began to undress quickly. He started coming towards me slowly. I was trying to yell but I couldn’t even breathe properly. They forgot to lock the back door in their thirst for flesh. My cell mate burst in, took the vessel containing boiling oil and poured it over the man coming towards me. Another person I shouldn’t forget.

Prison life was hell. I longed for that one day I was allowed to visit my family. We would be separated by metallic wires entwined together, leaving small holes for the prisoners to see their relatives and friends. It would seem like years for that minute to come. And when the appointed hour finally came it apparently lasted only for a few seconds. The one thing that gave me happiness and positive energy (which you should need in excess if you hope to survive in a place like this for such a long time) was my daughter’s growth and her achievements. She made me proud on her every visit. Be it academic or sports, she was always on top of it. I yearned for the day of my release just to hold my daughter in my arms and congratulate her for what she is. I haven’t touched her since the day I passed her on to her guardians as a three month baby.

It has been twenty two years. I and my husband lost our hearing capacity. I was taken to the warden’s room last week. He said the Supreme Court has passed a judgement that we are to be released in the near future and that the judge was a Tamilian named Sadasivam. I couldn’t even utter a word. Tears began to roll down my cheeks, but now for a different reason. My daughter, now doing her medicine in the UK, booked a flight ticket for Chennai. I could see the excitement in her face from her voice over our phone conversation.

It wouldn’t have been more than a couple of days when I got the message that the attorney general in my opposition has got a stay order for my release and that he wishes to take the case in a different dimension.

This is my last note. I lived in hell with a flicker of hope and now I am going to die just having realised that hope is dangerous.

Silent Nights – a short fiction

He stepped on to the sidewalk and switched to a leisurely pace, his office bag swinging from his right shoulder. The time was 8 pm.

Surya looked at the shops lining the platform; their brightly lit signboards, that looked even brighter after sunset and the garland of neon lamps surrounding their entry. The whole area was bustling with activity and he wondered why people took special interest in this place, especially during night time. The place was recommended to him by his secretary as a prescription for his fluctuating mood, which predominantly lied in the state of tension.

He found the restaurant at the end of the road. A magnificent black board displayed the name Cozee in red font. He took the corner table of the sea side restaurant and waited for someone to take his order. He didn’t expect a boy wearing red vest that was torn at a few places and trousers that looked like it hadn’t gone for a wash for more than a week. His eyes went through the menu card the boy gave him while his mind was occupied with the auditing that was to take place the next day.

“Just an apple shake,” he said. Raheem, the youngest waiter at Cozee, kept looking at him impassively. Surya repeated his order and watched the boy running to the next table. A bald headed man who couldn’t have been a day younger than sixty occupied the other chair of his table.

“He’s a deaf and dumb,” he said suddenly, his eyes fixed on the boy. Surya turned to his neighbour. “Then how come he understood what I said?” asked Surya.

“He paid close attention to your lip movement and guessed it,” replied his neighbour, matter of factly.

Surya was astounded. He turned to the next table and noticed a young couple throwing away their orders while Raheem was concentrating on their running lips. He felt pity for the boy, a defective product of god. As he slowly scanned the other tables his eyes fell on an attractive woman. She was clad in a pink sari. She had a fair complexion and was devoid of any make-up. She had a long nose with a pointed end and her broad forehead boasted a pink bindhi. Surya felt an immediate pull towards her. He couldn’t let his eyes move away from her. There she was… the most beautiful making of god; how could He create the best and the worst with the same hands! Surya thought.

Having taken the order of the couple Raheem ran to his most favourite customer, Anandhi. They were having an animated conversation with hands playing in the air and faces covered with smiles. Surya was watching it without blinking. He admitted to himself that she looked great. He hadn’t admitted that much about any woman, save this girl. Slowly in his mind emerged a thought. Poor girl, Surya alleged, why such a pretty woman should be deprived from the power of speech. She is so good looking and apparently rich too. I can’t accept the fact she is dumb. Maybe congenital! He turned away suddenly, unable to bear such a thought.

After having his drink and leaving Raheem a huge tip Surya left for his car. He had intentionally parked his car near the bus stand so that he could get to walk the remaining distance. After reaching the end of the road with his mind occupied not with auditing but with the lady from the restaurant he turned to his left to cross the road.

Anandhi nearly bumped into him when he stopped suddenly and turned to his left and the handbag she was carrying slipped down from her shoulder. They both were staring into each other’s eyes. Surya stared at the woman he felt attracted to. She was so close to him that he could feel the warmth of her heavy breath and smell the aroma of her body which was so mesmerizing. Oh my god! He thought. This can’t be happening. Have I… have I fallen in…

Love… yes you have fallen in love! Anandhi thought. I felt it when I first saw him back at the restaurant with a striking charm around him, but is this it?! Surya’s face was only inches away from Anandhi’s and she saw nothing else. She could feel herself falling towards him like how you would feel while standing at the edge of a cliff.

There was a loud horn sound in the background that made both of them realise they have gone too deep. They bent down together to retrieve her bag. Surya picked up the items that had come out. He found everything a typical office-woman would have except a mobile phone. And then it occurred to him. No apologies and no mobile phone, so she is a deaf and dumb.

Anandhi was thankful that her fragile phone didn’t fall out from her bag. She replaced the bag over her right shoulder and crossed the road. Surya was walking with her, feeling jealous of her handbag that it had the privilege of resting over his love’s shoulder, much closer than he could get. He maintained a certain distance from her and was nearly walking in the middle of the one-way. A speeding car came along the road and screeched to a halt just as Anandhi caught hold of Surya’s hand and pulled him towards her. The car driver shouted a word that an Indian Censor Board official would have been more than happy to expurgate. Only then it occurred to Anandhi, Is he a deaf and dumb?! No expressions of apologies or thanks and no aural instincts; oh pity! He can’t be.

They walked side by side without exchanging a word and reached the bus stand. Surya came to the stop too; so that he could spend time in her proximity which was more relaxing than the sea side restaurant.  He turned towards her with some hesitation, only to find that she was boarding a bus. He was surprised he didn’t even notice its arrival. Altogether in another world eh? He teased himself.

Surya was lying down on his four-poster. He could bring that girl before him, her face giving all kinds of lovely expressions and her hands dancing in mid-air. What a woman!He didn’t care for her disability. He would devote his life to her and make sure she never feels wounded for the rest of her life. And tomorrow, he decided, he would tell her everything.

Everything… yes, I would devote everything to him, thought Anandhi, lying on her massive oak bed and hugging a pillow. And it’s going to be tomorrow! She had never expected the next day this much in her past twenty-four years.

He regarded her as his destiny. He couldn’t take her from his mind. He looked at his reflection on the glass doors of all the shops that he crossed on his way to the restaurant the next night. On reaching his table he was stunned, his heart skipped a beat. The girl, or rather his girl now, was seated there. She was clad in a green sari and a matching maroon blouse. There was something about her face that was brighter than the neon lamps of all those shops put together. Wow! She looks beautiful!  He slowly took his seat opposite her. They were looking away from each other for some time, an uncomfortable silence hanging in the air. And then it happened suddenly. Surya took her hands into his and locked eyes with her. That was all they did to propose to each other. The same silence now was more than comfortable. And then they realised the truth. Even hateful and unexciting silence becomes comfortable when you fall in love. You don’t have to say anything; just staring into the eyes of your loved ones will speak stories.

It was exactly three months since they fell in love with each other. They were walking together, hand in hand. Surya and Anandhi did not exchange a single word for whole of the three months mistaking the other to be deaf and dumb. They talked in actions and enjoyed the silence, never with regret or unhappiness. They were now heading to the same restaurant and took the corner table, as always. Anandhi needed this refreshment badly. She had a terrible week and a backlog of work to cover in the coming week. On top of all this was her manager stalking her. She gripped Surya’s hand even tightly and received a reassuring smile from him as though he understood what was running in her mind.

As Raheem placed their order with a smile on his face and turned to the next table Surya caught the boy’s hand and motioned him to wait. He retrieved a small plastic cover from his bag and pulled out what looked like a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. He gave it to Raheem who was clapping and jumping with joy on seeing something like this being presented to him. The last time someone gave him something turned out to be a bearer plate and a kitchen towel. Surya hugged the boy. Raheem was frozen, his jaw dropped and eyes opened wide. He hadn’t experienced this privilege outside his dreams. Tears began rolling down his cheeks. He loved this customer! Surya got up and pulled him. He took the boy to the other side of the road leaving Anandhi with an ‘I-know-what-you-are-going-to-do’ smile. They entered a gift shop where Surya bought him a palmtop video game. It made Raheem’s day. Anandhi saw them coming out of the shop. They were having an animated conversation. Surya lifted the boy up and made him sit on the raised platform that was newly built. Surya pointed towards Anandhi and said in sign language that they were getting married. The boy clapped his hands, laughing uncontrollably. He told Surya that he was lucky to marry Anandhi as she sings very well, all in actions. Surya didn’t understand this. He shook his head and told Raheem that Anandhi cannot speak. Raheem clapped his forehead and told Surya that she can speak very well and she doesn’t speak to him so that he shouldn’t feel inferior. Surya didn’t know how to react. Can my Anandhi actually speak? Why didn’t she speak to me then?! Oh my god!

Surya just got up and ran to cross the road. Raheem jumped down and followed his favourite customer. There was a red Scorpio speeding down the beach road, after all it was a Saturday night. Anandhi saw the car and Surya running towards her without noticing the vehicle. She became nervous. Raheem was following Surya closely with his right hand outstretched and left hand gripping his first gift. The driver was concentrating more on his fast disappearing vodka than on the road. Anandhi stood up and ran towards the road. The car missed Surya by inches and hit the boy running behind.  Raheem’s first and last possession was thrown in air and fell next to his motionless body. Anandhi just sat down on the platform, petrified. She was holding her throat with her two hands and was trying to shout something but the words did not come out, nor could she hear anything; there was a long ear-piercing beep sound. At last she became what Surya mistook her to be, a deaf and dumb.

Surya stopped running and turned back, only to see a thick red fluid oozing out of the little boy’s body. The car driver dropped his vodka bottle on his lap and pressed both his legs on the accelerator.

Surya and Anandhi were walking down the beach road, each holding to the hands of their six year old son Raheem. During all those years they have only shared pure and passionate love and not a single word. Silence was, is and will always be comfortable to the two.

Black Is Warmer Than Blue – a short fiction

The cold monsoon wind blew over the sands of the beach. He was sitting, watching the setting sun that filled the sky with reddish hue. It was scenic, but he wasn’t enjoying it, just looking at it with an impassive face. His mind was thinking of his past, a past that was filled with emotions of only one sort…

Manohar was aborted at an early age. He did his schooling in an institution that cared for the blind people and a graduation in Information Technology under a scholarship reserved for special people. People called him special, but he regarded himself as one not fit to be social, not fit to see the beauty of nature, in short, not fit to live. He had only one friend, Shiva.

He stood university first at the end of his graduation, but still got placed only in a night-shift inbound call centre along with Shiva. He just had to attend phone calls and speak diplomatically to people who called from all over the world. The table next to his was occupied by a young lady by the name of Padma.

Padma was tall, had a fair complexion, straight and silky hair that hung down till her shoulders. She always wore saris even in this age during which western culture is imported more than anything else. She too was an orphan; her parents were killed in the 2008 Mumbai attack. She never mingled with anyone. All she knew was her workspace and a small apartment that she inherited.

It was 6:15 that morning. Shiva and Manohar were heading to the canteen for some refreshments. It was crowded, people with their sleeves rolled up and ties loosened were bustling around with plates on their hands. ‘Hey, shiv! Here,’ Keshav called out to Shiva, pointing to the two nearby seats. Keshav got down at the same stop as them.

‘Manohar, wanna smoke?’ said Keshav, pulling out a cigarette.

‘No, I don’t smoke,’ said Manohar smiling.

‘Fine, will you guys join me this evening at our neighbouring pub?’ asked Keshav.

‘Not a problem for me,’ said Shiva.

‘Sorry again, I am not used to all those,’ said Manohar.

‘Manohar, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink. You know what my girlfriend said? She said I should be like you, a gem among men. But, I can’t even imagine life without all these,’ said Keshav.

Padma, sitting behind them, was listening to all these while having her drink. She smiled at these words of Keshav and craned her neck slightly to look at Manohar. Noticing the smoked spectacles he was wearing and the folded white stick in his left hand, she was stunned. This was the first time she saw him properly in over two months of being his neighbour in the office and only then she realized he was blind. Her father used to say that god closes a door if he opens another and she understood that now. She quickly finished her drink and walked past the three men.

‘Shiva, you know her?’ said Keshav lifting his head towards Padma who was just leaving the canteen.

‘Yeah, the most decent girl I know of,’ replied Shiva.

‘Right… Saris, a handbag without cosmetics, footwear without heels and a cheap phone; not to my taste certainly,’ said Keshav shaking his head.

On hearing this, Manohar was glad that there were women of this kind even at this time. And this was the first impression Padma made on him.

After a night’s work, Manohar left the office a few minutes after six. Shiva stayed at home that they both had rented as he had severe back-ache, something call centre people would develop frequently. Manohar was walking to the station alone, helping himself with his walking stick. Following him behind was Padma, in a dark green sari and crimson red blouse. They had monthly passes, thus crossed the ticket counter and entered the platform. Their usual train came with its headlight shining on the railway tracks. When it stopped, Padma got onto it, but Manohar was trying to find the entrance by tapping his stick on the compartment and moving across it. On seeing this, Padma got down hesitantly and caught hold of his hand saying ‘I’ll help you.’ No one else had said these words to him; it was exotic to his ears. All his life, he had helped himself.

On getting into the train she made him sit down on a chair and sat next to him.

‘This voice sounds familiar,’ said Manohar.

‘It should, because I work next to you,’ Padma said.

‘Oh yeah! I recognize it now.’ Manohar said, realizing that it was the same woman they were talking about the other day.

Meanwhile, the train came to a halt at the next stop and three men got onto it. They came and sat opposite Padma and Manohar. One of the men gave Manohar a strange glance.

‘Hey, look at this. A blind man! And that too with a beautiful girl!’ said he.

‘Hey blind! How do you survive like this?’ said another.

The man who had not spoken anything till then stood up, closed his eyes, aligned his fingers around an imaginary stick and started walking slowly with his hand moving here and there in order to imitate the tapping action.

Sir, madam, please give me some money. I am blind, please help me. Like this, of course!’ said he, resuming his seat.

Manohar remained silent throughout. Padma was quite angry at this and was surprised why Manohar didn’t heed to all these. When the train stopped at the next station, Padma took Manohar’s hand and dragged him to the next compartment.

‘Why did you do that? I am used to all these….. I grew up with all these.’ said Manohar.

‘But I couldn’t withstand it. How so cheap they were! ’ exclaimed Padma.

But I couldn’t withstand it… Those were the only words that ran through his mind throughout that day. He loved that moment, he wanted to revisit the past and extend that one moment in which a person truly cared for him. For the first time in his life, he was sad that he hasn’t got eyesight. Manohar didn’t know why his thoughts went so wild and he couldn’t understand what was happening to him, something was running through him, his insides went so cold and he wanted to listen to melodious romantic songs that seemed to describe all these symptoms. He finally realized that he had got what people call, love.

On New Year eve, Shiva came to Manohar’s table at about 11:30 pm.

‘Mano, boss isn’t there. Keshav and I are planning to celebrate New Year at his house. Why don’t you join us?’ asked Shiva.

‘What are you talking? We have work to complete,’ said Manohar.

‘Don’t be so workaholic. We need some break, its New Year eve,’ said Shiva.

‘I am married to my work. I can’t leave her and go around,’ said Manohar.

Hearing all these, Padma smiled to herself and was glad to work along with a man like him. She removed her headset, leaned back and fell in deep thought. After some time she reached a decision and wondered what made her take it. ‘Happy new year everyone!’ someone shouted. It was 12 o’clock and the room was filled with voices exchanging wishes. Padma went to Manohar’s side.

‘Happy new year!’ she said.

He couldn’t understand the words. There wasn’t any problem with his primary auditory cortex, the problem was with his heart, and it weighed so much suddenly. The girl you love is coming to you and wishing you voluntarily, wouldn’t you be struck with a spell of… You can imagine it.

On the first day next year, Manohar told everything to Shiva. Shiva was dumbfounded. After taking everything in, he just said ‘Go and tell her.’

Next day, in the canteen, Shiva urged Manohar to go and propose to her.

‘She is a perfect match for you, just tell her. She will agree, because no one can be perfect like you,’ saying thus, Shiva hugged him. He helped him to the corner where Padma was standing and left silently. ‘I want to tell you something,’ spluttered Manohar, with his head bent down.

‘I love you!’ said Padma, looking at his smoked spectacles. ‘I have decided. If there is a man in my life, it will be you…. You are a quintessence among men…… How could a girl ever think of another man after knowing you,’ stammered Padma.

Thus blossomed love between them and it flowered without going stale.

‘I have known him for the past four years, he has never cared for anyone other than me and now you,’ said Shiva leaning on the window ledge and watching Padma who was sitting on the only chair they had in their room.

‘He hasn’t even prayed for his eyesight until the second you said you love him.’

‘Have you ever tried for an eye-transplantation, it’s too common these days,’ said Padma.

‘No… I never thought of it.’

Padma was surprised on how this notion hadn’t reached him. She left their house with a promise of enquiring about the related procedure. On the same night in their office Padma came to Shiva’s desk, told him that a nearby general hospital has the facility for the same and that Manohar can get eyesight if he is admitted immediately. When Shiva enquired about the cost, the glowing face of Padma became dim suddenly.

‘It’s expensive, but we don’t have a choice. I am determined to do this,’ she said.

‘But how?’ asked Shiva.

‘My flat…. I can sell it.’

‘But it’s the only property you have.’

‘No. I have Manohar… And he is everything to me.’

In the registrar’s office, next day, during the signing process her hands began to tremble and she put the pen down, crying. The flat was her only reminder of her dead parents where they had lived there for the past twenty-four years.

After the formalities they collected the money and went to their office to obtain leave for that night. When they finally boarded the train to the hospital the time was 10:30 pm. The compartment was empty except for five men in a dark corner. Shiva noticed that the men were looking strangely at Padma and were pointing at her. One of the men, large and ugly, came forward, grabbed her arm and threw her to the floor. Shiva instantly flew at the man and hit him in his chest. He reeled back, and another man jumped up and held Shiva with his hands pinned behind his back. The man who Shiva had hit started removing his dress quickly. Padma started screaming and Shiva struggled, both in vain. The man above Padma hit her when she protested and when he couldn’t endure her cries, he lunged her head on the iron seating. At that point, she just fainted with blood oozing out of her forehead. When he had done with her, she just let out a moan while Shiva cried at the top of his voice and turned his head away. The other men followed this and when they were done, left the compartment at the stop that came immediately.

Manohar opened his eyes and let light enter them for the first time. He saw a tall, clean shaven man standing nearby. Manohar leaped out of the bed and hugged Shiva. After exchanging pleasantries, he turned around, but there was no woman to be seen. There was a woman’s body in the adjacent bed, with a white bandage rolled around the eyes.

‘Where’s Padma?’ asked Manohar.

Shiva started crying and pointed to Padma’s body. The black tone of his life was replaced with a tint of blue.

The sun had set and darkness prevailed the sky. The man stood up from where he was sitting. ‘All I asked for was her heart, but she gave me only her eyes. Eyes that are no longer of any use to me,’ he said to himself.

Sivadas’s Sleeping Syndrome


Sivadas’s Sleeping Syndrome

People have unique friends. I have my own collection too. And this blog is dedicated to the most peculiar of my friends, Pranav Sivadas.IMG_3254

Have you ever heard of a guy who sleeps immediately during the state of rest?! We at least take a couple of minutes to settle into that God-given privilege, but this guy here just closes his eyes and you can be well assured that he has gone to the other world. Be it the process calculation or math class, while hitting the gym, the morning and evening bus rides and even while playing a game; if there is a closed pair of eyes in a place of activity it is Sivadas dozing there.

You can ask me if this is a topic worth writing about, but if I relate the funny incident that recently took place here you’ll be more than satisfied with this post. It was the start of semester exams. I was discussing the subject that we were about to be tested in shortly (don’t ask me what the subject is, it is always the coming and going of exams for me to remember things). Sivadas came walking towards us, carrying a bag that always looks heavy (god knows what he carries in it), with his right hand lifted up and one of his fingers protruding from it and wrapped under a white band. That’s it. The discussion was lost and we were all waiting to be filled in with what had happened to his finger. He came to us with an ‘I-know-what-you-are-going-to-ask’ smile on his face. Slowly people got their eyes on him and started crowding around. What had started with a controlled discussion over a subject turned into a chaos centred on Sivadas’s finger.

It seemed he was lifting a few weights, this time particularly (and unfortunately) heavy while he hit the gym the previous day . He went into his sleep mode, as usual, and what happened after that is our fragment of imagination. He dropped the weights on his right hand. The finger nail came out, went outside-in cutting his small finger into near half and leaving his outer half swinging from the rest of the finger. Well, please don’t presume he woke immediately. A few minutes later he sensed blood dripping onto the floor and wondered where it was coming from when his friend told him there was something wrong with his finger, giving a  disgusting expression as you or I would have given if subjected to the same situation.

And when he wakes from the one thing he does comfortably (sleeping, I mean) it is always not with a jerk but a smooth transition from one state to another. And if you ask me the one activity he does without switching modes it is driving his car! He is very attentive especially when one of us is present inside and before making even a turn he would turn to all sides of the clock just to make sure the turn comes out safely.

So… hey Pranav! Just wanted to introduce you and your habits to the world. No offence! 😉

I consider myself lucky to find people like this around me. I am sure each one of you reading this have that one friend who would have made you wonder about him/her. Well, friends are always special and special!!!

A Tragedy Within Another – a personal experience

I have always loved writing, except exams of course.

And so when the English dept. of my college went on to host a creative writing competition I gave my name naturally. I chose fiction as poetry is an unexplored region in my world. I thought about various stories, imagined worlds… And I finally settled on one. I was too excited about it and so went into action immediately.

You can find that work above, under the name Black is warmer than blue.

I edited and re-edited it until I was totally satisfied. I didn’t expect anything and didn’t write for the sake of winning. It was just my pure passion getting a new opportunity. I was in Trichy for the holidays and was returning home when I received a text from my friend Malavikha saying I had won the second prize, two thousand rupees, the first amount I earned without meaning to.  And like the tragic ending in my story, my reality also ended in a tragedy. I wasn’t there to climb the stage and collect my prize. I lost my first recognition and the pride of getting my first prize.

Theory of Illusions – my philosophical stance

There are many theories relating to the working of the universe and still many theorists are working on refining them. But none of these are philosophical. The theory you are just about to read deals with the reality and existence of the very universe all other theories took for granted. In short, this theory will enable you to perceive the world around you through the spectacles of philosophy and may even make you question that same perception, because there is more to it than a simple theory.

How would you react if I say everyone and everything around you is just an illusion? That people around you are images shaped by your mind? And that what you hear, feel and smell are just unreal and fragments of your subconscious imagination? It may be an absurd feeling of incomprehension initially, but may turn into shock as realisation of the possibility of such a model begins to settle in.

This is exactly what the theory of illusions propounds. Everything, including our mortal body, is an illusion. So you may be tempted to know what else is real. It is the soul, the immortal fire burning inside, and the person who created it, be it lord Shiva or Jesus Christ or Allah or any myriad form of His, which is the truth.

By now I hope that the absurd feeling of incomprehension that I mentioned before has filled your mind. Let me move on and explain things to make it easy. Take off your eyes from this line and look outside your window. You may see poorly constructed roads, newly engineered buildings and fast food restaurants and if you are lucky, a few trees – a typical Chennai scene. Now you are reading this. The roads may not be there; the buildings may not be there and even the few trees you were fortunate enough to see may not be there. They were momentary illusions contrived by Him to give you a sense of surrounding. Even the sense of itching caused by insect bites is an illusion. Not just these, even your friends and family are the same. They may not actually be there, but just intervene in your life to influence it and to twist and turn it in the way things were planned. Some may be helpful illusions and some may come to disrupt your life.

Now I hope the feeling that such a model is possible has settled in. This is a very beautiful theory in two ways. The first one being, it can explain everything from why an apple falls down to the electrodynamics of moving bodies and from when and how the universe was born to when and how it will end. This is so because, there is nothing called an apple, relativity and for that matter universe. All are momentary illusions. It is just the soul and its creator. So we don’t have to bother to explain the natural phenomena and scientific events and more importantly, we can’t. The second beautiful fact being, what we see around us is unreal and what we can’t see is the ultimate truth!

This proposition can certainly be called a philosophical and spiritual theory concerning the working of universe. We don’t know if this model is the actual truth, it may even be tough to take it in, but it certainly deserves consideration as it is just another perception of our world.