Rampant progression

What an idea! If things went unhindered, it would be a night to remember indeed. The common interest would work to my benefit here. The object of attention I’d picked was unquestionable; it was a clear-cut favorite, would give us enough to discuss later on, a perfect conversation piece. Sailing through a quick drift of mutual distractions, I throw out the offer, fingers and toes crossed. The proposal is accepted, it is going to be movie-night after all. Unknown to the universe, I do a little jig, feet click up in the sky and hands snap the latest beat.

The stage is set, pillows tucked under and the lights dimmed. Some red devil to lighten the mood? Oh yeah! Who could deny such an offer after all? The game is on and I am having a worthy time already, what if it’s only the opening credits rolling by.

The tricks that the human mind manages to conjure are intriguing indeed. Wisps of an all too familiar smile, those minutes of silence worth a million words, a quick smirk at that movie quote in unison. Signs, strewn across the little green room, all point to a single want for acceptance and a single confirmation of the same. It definitely looks like the Gods have us for their weekend entertainment and are intended on making sure it is a night worth remembering.

I look back farthest into my memory lanes, to when I first set sight on him. There was no lightning or the proverbial thunderbolt. There had not even been a genial conversation that made the mark from day uno. The last I remember, it had started with him deriding me and I running for cover, tears welling up my little round eyes. Most other years, I’ve known him, were similar to that one encounter; intensities of anguish varying at the most.

Time is the best healer, they say, and it has clearly proved true in my case. We slowly grew into similar beings, with like-minded interests and wants from life. Those moments of travail against the common Gods, made us realize we were fighting on the same side of the war; reason enough to build some camaraderie. As our dreams took us miles apart, we’d kept the lines open, grown closer despite the different zip codes, bonded more than ever before. Technically speaking, tonight is the result of days and months of us growing accustomed to the unknown, the last assessment of a year spent in preparation.

A sudden detachment from the present catches my attention and I sneak a glance out to investigate further. Before my mind can prepare the most appropriate question to throw out, he has risen to his feet, jacketed to the least and let himself out of the door. Shocked and stunned, I realize what a hard blow this act has been to my string of thoughts. Happy times of socializing are quickly overwritten by that same feeling of anger I felt, every time I saw myself being thrown around in his mercy. A nausea of wrath seeps in, waiting to burst out at the next opportune moment. What dry humour to walk out on me and my plan, not a word said!

Before my mutiny could proceed any further, the door opens again, and in he walks back, a bright and brilliant smile adorning his face. He brushes away the question on my face with a brief “Sorry!” and goes back to reeling the movie ahead. I feel stuck between strong forces of hatred and indifference, agony and complete normalcy, unaware of the expected reaction to such an incident.

A lot is answered, and newer questions raised, when I catch him stealing quick glimpses away from the movie and showering all attention on her. He had been out for that brief moment, only to smuggle her in, and all my initial fury had forced me to be totally blind to her. He had wronged me and my plan for the duo by bringing a third, uninvited guest to the part. As he catches me staring between him and her, he throws that same charming smile, armed to topple my senses over. That same smile, which gave me a reason to be in the first place, is now a potent dagger, quickly heading my way, waiting to uproot my beliefs in more thoughts than one.

Something in him makes him think it befitting to explain his act. He says that she was sweet and the two of us would get along just fine. Did the expected retort to that statement require me to start bonding with her right away? I hated the mere thought of it, a certain smell that she reeked of, gave me the bumps already. I dodge a glance and look away, finding a new found interest in the movie that no longer holds any meaning to the evening at all. I see him pull her closer to where he is, she huddles in the comfort between his shoulders and his strong hands. I perceive him having ridden aeons away from me, in the quick span of a minute.

I hear a little giggle and I can no longer feign ignorance or act invisible. I stare at their faces, totally in love with each other, a feeling I’d ignored for years now. He pulls her closer, she caves in under his controlling grasp and my mind punishes my eyes by not letting them look away. She gasps as he lets their yearning lips lock, he closes his eyes to feel her consume him from within. She drowns him thoroughly, for when he opens his eyes, I see him in a different plane from mine, wandering a planet unknown to me.

A familiar smile crosses his lips, as he reads her face; something amusing has caught his attention. He thrusts her towards me and asks me to share his enthusiasm as I read off her cover: Smoking is injurious to health.

So is chocolate, ice cream and butter chicken. Why bother!, he retorts, to no one in particular, and takes another puff off his new found love.

My little brother has grown up to be a different man indeed.

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Wild Wild West – I

One thing that hit us with a quick gush, as soon as we stepped out of the airport, was the hot and dry air. A 100 Fahrenheit and we rechecked our stock of sunscreen, put on those glasses and strut on to our ride. I have to flashback a few hours to how we got here though, because the beginning ensured that we were to have a fun trip after all.

2 AM miseries

Some sane thought that Switch and I had, made us book tickets out of far-off PHL, instead of backyard EWR or across-the-street NYC airports. This “out-of-this-world” decision, that seemed pretty reasonable when we punched out our credit card details, ensured that we were up at 2 in the morning, out of town by 2 30, only to be roaming the streets of EWR for a decent parking lot. Well, we had to put the car in safe hands for four long days; that automatically ruled out any off-street ones, those that had a voice operated system talking to no one in particular and of course the ones closed. Frantic search was on. It’s funny to digest the number of weenies who actually roam the earth that early in the morning.

After trying out every possible option dear mr/ms garmin gave us and having let go of two of the five, to magically walk into the dream parking space, we had a little of five minutes to spare before our train out. Better sense prevailed and we drove into the very same lot that we had driven past a hundred times in that one night in search of a safer option. Yeah right! Who are we kidding!

Feeble pleasanteries exchanged, keys to the ride surrendered in the hands of a total stranger and two bags baring us down, DShah and I ran for it, while Switch tried to fumble the tickets out. We dint care if we looked like two goons, running away from mad dogs chasing us; we had a vacation to start on time. Acela arrived, the conductor obliged and we rode an hour into PHL, all in a weary sleep-embedded daze.

Note to self: cops in Philly are very cordial, nice to the point of being over intrusive I guess. It’s a fact, because Dear mr cop chose to accompany us from one station to the other, made sure we boarded the correct connecting ride and wove good bye to DShah with tear-filled eyes. Ok I might have fuzzed the facts on that one a bit; I was sleep deprived and it was too early in the morning for nocturnals like me, remember?

Philly billies

A minor fiasco at the “security check” left Switch bereft of his dear-old ninja gear. How many camping trips had he gone out on, pulling it out of his kit, nimbly; flaunting it out in the open, boldly; as other covetous eyes stared on! True, he had hoped to demand extra drinks on the flight with that one weapon and damn, his plot lay out in the open. We drank to his ill fortune, promised to buy him a stronger, sharper, meaner, sleeker, ahmm.. er weapon and boarded the flight at the back of the crowd.

Proud to be back benchers indeed, we tried having sane conversations with the ‘air hosts’, Damn! I still cant get used to that profession for a man, before somebody’s good judgement stepped in. We slept through the rest of our flight.

Wild West

Turbulence woke us up, in time to see the first glimpses of the mighty canyon. We straightened up, crained out the pot hole windows and Viva Las Vegas!!

PS: Learnings so far:

– It is impossible to try being on a diet and on vacation at the same time.

– When fast asleep, an hour is like a minute and 1500 miles take a mere five.

– Male air hostesses, using their spare time knitting a sweater, are not a welcome sight to wake up to.

– Deccan airways was not the only one that had carriers rattling during take-off.

– Security check personnel love Swiss army knives.

In Wild Wild West – II, The Mustang compromise, Hoover’s arch and the mad dirt ride to walk.

Ma, Me and She.

As I was skimming through the previous posts here, something glared back at me; they are all dull, boring, rants from my life and heck who’d care about my past and my God anyway. So I’ve tried a new venture here, spiced up my life and gone ahead and written a story. Yay!!

The usual rules stick, read till the end; if you see your concentration waning, pour that strong cup of coffee, wash it down and hang in there. All events in this story are purely fictional and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely intentional. Duh! It’s my story after all!

He rolled down the windows of the taxi briefly, careful not to let the downpour in. He waved in her direction, met her eye, they exchanged a brief smile and she walked towards him. She gingerly snapped her umbrella shut, sat in and the taxi drove on. They exchanged quick pleasantries.

…”True, The Mumbai monsoon was becoming unbearable”…

…”That new flick had some poor storyline to begin with”…

…”Isn’t it a shame Michael Schumacher is not going to be driving after all!”

It was just their second date, could he really call it that, and he had already begun to like her. Unlike the prospectives his friends usually hitched him up with, she was genial, homely, grounded to the earth, loved soaking in the rain, thought that our traditions had to be respected no matter what and believed that the saari was a snug outfit. The last two were definitely going to get her special-extra-brownie-points with ma.

Amma. If the past had taught him something, it is that amma was a different ballgame altogether. School days was spent cramming up the books, extra tuition ensured that there was no time for wasteful thinking, leave alone squandering. Mom made sure that he got his milk on time, had his homeworks top notch and he was up before sunrise, for an extra round of revision. How else did he plan on becoming an astronaut? College was no less complicated. Amma relocated to his town; Yeah, Pa could manage on his own for couple of years and No, hostels are for kids whose mothers dont care enough.

And so, four years had dragged by at snail’s pace. The first puff of smoke was taken elsewhere while he had been busy completing his engineering drawing, on time and crisp to the P. The first crush was turned into heartbreak for others, while he dozed on the bus, rattling back home for dinner. The kiss had been magical; ephemeral, yet legendary indeed. But it had not been him, for he was at the temple that day, praying for a successful semester.

“Sorry?”

A mental snap, and he was back to today. “Whhaa..?”

“I don’t know. I mentioned coffee and you said ‘If Only’. “

“OH!!”

“It’s alright. We can get coffee sometime later.”

“NO!! No. Coffee is good. Coffee is great. Coffee it shall be”

He watched her, quietly, as she made herself comfortable in the small shack. Their patio table gave every part of her body room to live up and breath. He conceived that very moment, that he was capable of spending the rest of his life, staring at her luscious dark hair, duelling with the renegade breeze. The Indianness in everything about her, sent home a warm feeling within him. The waiter seemed to notice the artful manner in which she ordered our coffee, the nimbleness seemingly inborn. He sported a huge smile, scratched down our order and skipped his way back. Pumpkin what latte!? Pumpkin in a coffee? Really?

She sipped her drink, exuding a sense of peace to the world around her. By her green and yellow attire, everything seemed to pop out and spring into a dance, moving to the eternal song of love and life. Or at least he thought so. She sat there and took a sip of her coffee, undisturbed, while he continued.

He took a sip of the drink and spat it all out. He should not have listened to these guys after all. Amma was right from the beginning, this “was” a drink to hell. He forced another sip in, holding it in his mouth for a second, before gulping it down. As the caustic liquid oozed through his ducts, his inners came to life, burning their presence. When they finally settled, his mind settled too, on a cloud of dust around him. The guys were right, you could hear music with this drink in you. Hail Bro!!

Four hours and numerous drinks down, he walked home carelessly, mimicing a straight line in his gait. He laughed at how unsuccessful he was at it. The guys had helped him rehearse the story he was going to tell amma. He had gone over it a million times. Can you really count straight when you are drunk? There was not an odor or sound left on him to raise an ounce of doubt in her. He had to shoulder up and be a man! He could fool his way through without a doubt, and to think he presumed amma knew it all so far.

Amma knew it all. Period. She knew he was lying from ah-choo! There had been no study circle. There were no notes to copy. It was not just coffee indeed. He had disappointed her to the point of being ashamed. Dared he repeat it and she was going to take drastic steps. No, she did not want to listen to anything more. To the room please.

The soft tap on his hand bought his thoughts rushing back. He could never lie to amma again. But with the sensuous lady tapping his hands right now, he wouldn’t have to. She seemed to have fallen from heaven, or where ever they come from, with him in her mind all along. She pointed at her wrist watch, proclaimed that it was late and she needed to be home in time for the evening prayers.

“Oh!” Feeble protest. “Let’s get a taxi. I’ll ride you home”

Yes. Amma would definitely appreciate her and her impeccable demeanor. Prayers in the evening! There was no conceivable reason an out-going, modern, educated women of today would do that. She was going to be a complete success with Amma, and his dreams were coming to life indeed. He hailed the nearest black and yellow ride, shabbily whispered her address to the driver and settled in the back seat. She seemed to have been sitting there from ages eternal. The way she curled her legs together amused him, what wondrous poise in such cramped spaces. Beside him, she nudged closer and her sweet menthol fragrance gripped him.

He turned to face her, staring deep into her reciprocating eyes. Was this going to be the opportunity he had missed years back? What had the guys said? Don’t waste the moment thinking about it, go ahead and do it. Or wait! Was it, Thinking about it made sure you never missed it? She inched closer and his thoughts shattered, quite similar to the distance between them. Her brown eyes glared back, innocence and naievete in abundance. The inches between her voluptuous lips and his controlled fear seemed to be receding, slowly but surely.

Was he manning up to it and making the move? Finally? Was she being the infallable woman that she is, aware that he would want her to be? He sighed heavily, slumping in his seat.

A second away, and…

“Brother, Do you have a match?”

“What..? I..!”

“Here’s a lighter, bhayya.” With experienced swiftness, she dug through her purse, reached past her menthol cigarettes and produced a gem-studded piece.

Boy! He’d never seen one such before, and he couldn’t take his eyes of it now.

Replay.

It was another one of those times when you felt life was in the replay mode…

It was the same village…mounted high up in the hills…With the smell of the heavens oozing out of every street….People looking very affable…waiting to serve u at the cost of their lives…Those up hill and down hill travels were all too familiar for words…

There was the same monsterous weapon of mass destruction..it had haunted me the previous time….I was wrong to have wished it gone now…coz it was back…Howling the lives out of innocent visitors…these rickshaws knew no fear…autos that decided the fate of their passer bys…They hadnt changed…

The man’s face was a distant memory…but this one sent back shivers….there was that weird feelin within that was tellin me to warn my companion…to remind him that it was wrong…to let him live back the then when it had all happened….to tell him to get out…before it was too late….

We sat snug in the vehicle…the driver looked up at the heavens and laughed….my heart began to beat harder…i felt that crunch that sucks your soul out of you..i could feel it comin any minute….

And there it was…I knew it..it happened….as it had the last time…The squabble broke out from a nothing…I hadnt remembered why the last time too…but it was worsenin…and the final blow..that sent him flying out of the rick…

What happened next and how i reached him is a distant memory…i cant get down to the details in my head…but as i knelt and looked down on him…lying there helples….with blood oozing out from the face that had lit up the life in me….i lost it all…

I panicked for starters…Here was my life, lying there wounded, hurt, most probably because of me..and i wasnt doing anythin….i looked around…the all so pleasant mountain village dint seem half as inviting now…walker bys stopped to stare at the mass of bleeding flesh that lay below…and seemed to care the least…i could see backs turnin to us and walkin away…what was wrong…? wouldnt somebody help a hurt in this world..?

No..! i was not gonna depend on others to save this man lying here…It took no herculian effort to mount him in my arms…and i ran….god knows where though….Throughout my run for life, i peered down into those eyes…a pair that was searching for life…that was knocking on heaven’s doors…but fighting to get back…for there was a life to be lived….

I heard myself scream to him…wishing that he would hear…i begged him to not let go….i scremed at the heavens…to not take him with them…no this could not happen…i ran down those pristine white corridors…with him lying frail like a lump in my arms…

Ran straight through the doors…and OUt…!! I sat up ram-rod straight….It had happend again…the same dream…the same plea….the same door that i woke up at….

I lay awake in bed for the rest of the night…Praying….!