Fiction, Literature

A dive into the Unknown.

I was always telling him things, taking him places – pouring my soul out for him, almost torturing him time and again with my bitter-sweet impulsive emotional outbursts. All I asked of him was for him to be angry, or shocked or worried or guilty about the things I said or thought. I meant for him to be able to tell the things he felt, or feel the way I felt. I meant for him to feel something for me – just anything at all. No, his lucid insensitivity did not intimidate me one bit,not even for a second, for I was in love with his coldness too. His sheer lack of emotions infuriated my brimming youthful soul, for I perpetually carried hundreds of impalpable precipitations feelings inside me. But, despite his apparent indifference or his obvious lack of ability to look through my soul, he was breaking me into pieces. 

With him, I knew I was content. But to him, I was also loosing a little bit of myself, every day. I could spend hours with him and not speak one word, deep down, silently preparing myself to melt into his layers one day without warning. In my silence, he tamed me with his ferociousness. He would sway past my frame coarsely, taunting me, almost provoking me into an awkward smile. When I lost it, he disciplined me with his infuriating indifference. I, enraged and annoyed, threw stones at him, spit at him, crushed his trunk, and when I was done, I fell to his feet, in pieces. He would just let me be, let me bleed and wail, all he had to do was to to send his arms to pet around my skin for a while, or hum a feeble tune.In seconds, I forgave him and went back to being in the kind of literate, passionate, unconditional love again.

For he himself was nothing short of an enigma, an embellishment of contrasts, crafted in a mysteriously juicy method. He was the most free-spirited, insolent, angry, impatient thing I had ever known. And I, only I saw that beneath the layers of mischief and mystery, there was a layer no one knew about. A layer of emptiness – an insatiable void. That was the catch, that I knew too much. Or I thought I did, from all that I heard and imagined – I just knew that he submerged his deepest of deepest desires into a tiny cave hidden somewhere deep underneath his bodily layers.

I wanted to get there. There, right there, was the home I wanted to live in.  I wanted to excavate – excavate as further as I can  to understand him more- to make sense of longings and despairs and pleasures. That had become my only obsession and my deepest fascination. I alone wanted to be the one who understands his being, the one who reads his mind, the one who he came back to after an ugly fight. 

But he had been in love before, millions of times before, but that did not upset me. There was no way I could give him any of the earthly pleasures, I wasn’t even worth all of it. Yet, it upset me so much, that he returned to every woman who crawled back to him. He sheltered them too, even at odd hours of the day. I was foolish to imagine that he could be exclusively my very own. I had to start thinking of ways to push him away from my memory.

And somewhere along the way, I fell out of place, I fell out of my mind, I fell way from him. And being young and caught up in my own lecherous ways, I distanced myself with what I was made of. I missed out on our visits, on our intimacy, on our yearning.I was lost and I strayed further away, feeding my soul of all it craved for. But it did upset me that you did not come for me, or send for me or watch out for me. Some strangers I met, told me stories of you, brought me the scent of your being and sought me guilty for letting you go.

Some nights, I stayed awake. Thinking of you,of the way your moved around,  of your warmth, of your smell and of all those lives who fell for your charm. They were the only things that I knew and I realized how much in awe I was, that in the process of rejuvenating my love for him, I was setting fire to myself.

I knew I had failed him. I had failed him in more ways than one. I failed myself and my only conscience. I had been running away from him, I was running away from the only place I could call home. I was running away from all that I ever wanted. Indeed, I thought I was better off without him, better off without the eccentricities and vulnerabilities, without the pain and passion. But, deep down, I knew that if there was a place I would return to – It had to be always inside you.

I could not wait any longer. I stood up and walked. Walked for hours and days, and now I am there, at his mercy. I had come back to him, wounded, sobbing and weak begging him to take me back. I had come back.

I was talking to him now, pleading, begging for a chance at redemption.

“Now you could throw me out or take me in, but know that I will always come back.” I started.

“Have pity, my sea, have me back.” 

I was speaking these words and without waiting for him, I started walking into his depths , into the moist depths I had always dreamed of.  I couldn’t make out if his overpowering waves were trying to push me aside or pull me along to the culmination. I did not know if he was happy about my forceful advancement into his layers. It was not painful for I was ecstatic, creeping down into his depths in awe ,waiting for the moment we would become one. I knew it would take a long time, and I might not even remember how it felt, but this was a moment. This was the moment I had longed for in years, this was the ultimate high I needed, my final orgasm.

Tell me now, all of you. I knew you were watching us in our final  moments of intricate intimacy? Some of you, crying for help,calling out for me, wailing, sending troops in search of me. But, didn’t you see my love, and his, what did you miss? Do you not see that this place, where I am now, floating and drifting with the undercurrents of his enormous being, is the only place I can be happy and content?

Review

Dear Facebook, Make amends NOW!

Dear Facebook,

Mankind will forever be thankful to you for making social networking so ridiculously easy and accessible for everyone on the planet. I am an addict myself, and I strongly believe in the power of social media in facilitating all its users to become socially aware citizens. But then this letter is a reminder, to remind you that with great powers come great responsibilities. And those, you cannot, cannot pretend to turn blind on.

I’m not sure if the recent developments regarding the arrest of the admins of a paedophilic page has reached you. It is probably not the only one in history, but what makes this arrest unique is your involvement in it. To say that you were not aware of it would be wrong, because by all means, the page was reported several times by several people and the news had reached you, I have no idea to which hierarchy level though. I understand that the page did not breach your “policy” that time, but now that they are arrested, you do see that they were essentially what we had reported them to be. I hope you want to seek redemption now. And by redemption, I suggest that you decide to make significant changes to your policy to keep your hands clean at least in the years to come.

Probably you have never thought of it this way, but then they used you, you to hold pictures of innocent kids, most of them below 10, and then make them available to customers who came through the page. Do you realize that you could have saved a lot of innocent lives had you decided to take prompt actions when the page was repeatedly reported? You said it did not contain nudity, and most of the comments were in Indian languages which must have looked Greek and Latin to you. But let’s have a word, adult to adult, the admins were smart enough to know that you would take it down if they included nudity, so they played the game well enough and you fell for it. You bought them, because you did not realize what they were doing. But since you know that this is where you fall short, make amends to fill it up.

I understand that setting up reviewers for every regional language is essentially a time consuming task and setting up teams would essentially need funding. But I do not and cannot take it if you tell me if its not possible. It is possible, Zuckerberg, you have travelled to a hell lot of places in India and have taken the pain to make us believe that your idea of internet.org was for us. So,deep down, you do want to do something for us, right? Here’s your big chance. It should make you feel immensely proud to have that kind of a unique power, to be able to save a lot of lives from being forced into prostitution and rape. Had you decided to atleast tie up with the local police in helping review those when you still had the time and chance, a lot of man missing complaints would have been solved. A lot of children would have atleast been spared at least a few months of verbal and physical torture had you wanted to do something about it.

I know that there are other ways the perpetrators could have done it on the world wide web. And they would still have been pimps even if the operations weren’t through Facebook. I know they can get their own websites. I know they could have gone to some other social networking website. While there are a spectrum of places to which they could have gone, they chose you. Facebook because that is where the entire civilization is active these days. And Facebook because of its sheer lack of sophistication. Anyone can manage a page and create fake accounts and manage businesses with your tool. And Facebook because you don’t even have to search for it in the world wide web, the pages would just stumble up on you. And Facebook because of its credibility and accountability. And last,but not the least, I do not want to say this, yet Facebook because they know your review policies. They know they are safe.

You, all of you at Facebook, I believe, are adults enough to understand that verbal violence and attacks, including defaming and derogatory remarks are as much abusive as nudity or pornography. You need to take control, take charge of what you host and feed.

You should be proud of what you created. My life has been a lot easier because Facebook existed. I myself am an obsessive compulsive Facebook user. But this is the time, when you decide not let us down anymore with your policies.Get a review team in place, get help from local police and judiciary whenever the situation demands, but make a decision to make yourself free of explicit trafficking pages and profiles. Make amends, NOW.

Fiction

The Final Call.

_20151031_105243With the first beam of morning rays that tickles my senses to awaken me for the day, memories come splurging down my brain from everything around me ceaselessly reminding me about how badly I wish to wake up next to that man who was once my husband, again. I had practically come to terms with the fact that if there was a man whom I could let into my most fragmented inner circles, and allow him to crawl so deep beneath the surface that I actually start to enjoy the pain and pleasures that come with it, it could only, only be him. And then it dawned on me that I was indeed in love with this man in more ways than I had thought possible. The separation was more or less a self-inflicted torture, and it kills me to recollect that it was entirely my idea. But the distances, the knowledge that he is no more a heartbeat away engulfed me in grief. Over the days, I only grew more desperate, more non-sensical and more miserable. I realized I was devastatingly in love with his being, and a hundred things about him- the innocent murmurs he made when he slept, the smell of his laundry, , the rough patches of pimples on his face ,the linings of his hair that had started to turn grey ,the circles under his eyes I fondly  kissed many odd mornings, even the way he always folds his right leg while watching TV. I was in love with the idea that I knew so much about him, that I knew the most intricate and finest details about him that no one else would could ever know. And it wouldn’t be an underestimation to confess that the very possibility of learning to live without him was nothing but beyond possible.The bickering and falling had indeed numbed my senses for a while, I confess and I am as sorry about it as one could ever be. But in his absence,in the hardest way there could be, I learned that the suffering only made me miss him more dearly and want him more desperately.

It took me quite an inner battle to gain the courage to decide that I had to return to where I truly belonged. As I walked into the apartment that was once ours, it instantly struck me that every last piece of furniture was exactly where I had them to be, and that he still watered the plants I brought home and that he still wouldn’t clear the mess off the dinner table. I asked myself several times if something about the place has changed over the months I had missed out here , and the answers that came from within were essentially in my favor. The only obvious change, yes, however was probably the adolescent appeal to the house. The air was thick around the hallway, replete with patches of cigar, weed and alcohol everywhere. Was he in pain? The image of my man with an empty face, subdued tears and a wounded heart threw my senses into despair. And knowing that I could be the reason was a lot to to take for me at that moment.

As soon as I was in our bedroom, I crawled on to his favorite side of our bed and pressed my face harder on to his pillow. Clutching at the thick fabric of the quilt that kept him warm in the nights he spent in my absence, I arched on to press every segment of my body harder on to it, in a desperate effort to feel the miniscule part of his being he had left here. What I felt there, I could never tell you. But know that it beats words, completely. I knew I wanted to hold on to this state for a while longer and wail out in pain, and wet the fabric of his quilt with my tears like I do every night these days, spending the cold nights alone, and not having him to hold me close. I inhaled deep and hard to register the odour of his manly self into my brain once more. It was different now, not just was it his sweat and perspiration anymore, it was muddled with the odour of his cigar and alcohol. And a pervasive odour of his new perfume entwined with the tang of his own dampness.I knew I had to get some air before I would suffocate in this air that was telling me stories no man could tell me.

I couldn’t stand the wait any longer. I wanted to make up for the months and days and hours we had lost now. I was exhilarated and the feelings above words, seared into the cavities of my lungs, and I tell you, it was both painful and liberating at the same time. More painful. Less- very less liberating. And I asked myself the big question- what had gone wrong? I remember that an year down the big wedding, he had almost forgotten to laugh, the magic had worn off and we were increasingly behaving like roommates. He had ceased to live and had begun to passively exist and I had missed him even when he was right next to me, but then and I could kill for a glipse of even his faintest shadow now.But then, I was still young and rebellious and did not know what to do about it and considered the moving out most viable of all. In these days, II often longed to see him laugh – I remember it was the most intoxicating thing ever. The kind of laugh that warms your heart. To watch his lips curl and eyes brighten and muscles relax, and when he did that , I could just watch him forever. He was a bewitchingly handsome pain, and is yet the most charming and fascinating of them all, and I am guilty of  my own tantrums that had pushed him away from me.

I imagined all possible ways his mind could work, but it was hard enough trying to imagine how exactly he would react to anything then, while we were still young and in love. And today, after what I had done to him, I had zero reasons to expect him to be thrilled about the visit.The man always, always thought too much and felt too much, and it was almost impossible to comprehend the thoughts in his head. He was a mystery to his finest piece.  And today, if he was to find me here, would he be happy? Would he notice that I was wearing his fond red dupatta? Would he rest his head on my chest and cry out once more, like the day I left?  Would he demand explanations or seek answers I didn’t have ? Would he let me stay?  Would he be shocked ? Would he not? I closed my eyes to remember the feeling of having him next to me, and the longer I stayed, the emptier I felt, I got nothing and I knew that my own desperation was playing tricks with me to test my patience.

I sat for a few more minutes before I could get up agin. In the mirror at a distance, I saw the reflection of the desperate woman I had become over my months of solitary confinement. And soon, I was hallucinating, I saw that looking back at me were a kaleidoscopic apparition into a million broken images of a woman who had once been his shy eager friend who later became his lover, his fiancé , his bride, his wife and a his partner who had vowed to never strand him this lifetime. And one August morning, without warning, I had walked away from him, not willing to give him a chance to seek explanations or reason as to why this had to happen. In my head, I maintained that the reasons were good enough, and for that I paid a huge toll. The images slowly began to fade away and in the end, they convulsed together to look back at me in my current form- me- who was no more his friend, no more his lover and no more his wife, worse still, no more a matter of consequence at all. I stared at my empty face, empty neck and empty soul long enough to start to feel the muscles of my face spasm a little, and to see the crystals of tears starting to level up the sides of my tiny eyes. I didn’t shut them, fearing the smallest of the droplets might fall down my chin, because I knew I couldn’t stop the avalanche that was to follow if I let the first tear slip.

I felt a slight relief to note that he let my big black bindis remain on the rim of the frame. But then I saw something I wish I hadn’t.In between the big black bindis were tens of small red bindis. And I never wore red ones ever. I continued to stare at them in disbelief and it suddenly occurred to me that I had been foolish enough to not see that he could never have watered my plants. And that the smell of perfume that filled the air around me was unmistakably feminine. And with the thought, I skipped several beats in a minute and the blow to my nerves had been hard enough to send cold chills down my body and I was zoned out for as long as I could think of. Until the doorknob clicked and opened and I heard the laugh I had longed to hear for in years. And walking into the room with a wide grin was the man who was once my husband , his eyes sparkling , his lips curled into the widest smile, and I noticed that the circles under his eyes had now disappeared, his hair looked dark and full and he looked several years younger than he was when I walked out on him. And clinging on to him passionately, looking at him in the eyes with an expression so profound to be described, was the reason behind his adolescent smile. She let loose her hands that were clutching his shirt immediately and turned away meaning to leave him alone to confront me. As if in a reflex my husband’s hands caught hers and then I realized that his smile had disappeared and his face turned pale and empty as soon as he saw me. And that in life, it is not always fair to expect second chances. I walked away slowly, holding on to his wide smile and sparkling eyes , although none of it was meant for me.

Review

The Highway Man And His Subway Girl.

romantika-svidanie-devushka

“Hey! What if I make a pass at you right now?”. She says playfully.

“Well, you don’t have to try to make a pass at me everytime, you see?”

 

“Tell me, what if I do?”

“What! Like here? But why, Aren’t you a little too young for that?”

 

“I asked you a question! ”

“Give it a shot, I am game”

 

“So,do you think I stand a chance?

“Do I?”

“Does it have to be so complicated?”

 

“No.”

“No?”.

“No, I think we are way past complicated here.”

 

“So, Is that why you push me away?

“You think I push you away? How do you explain me turning up here every second day then?”

 

“Enlighten me”

I want to pull you close and push you away at the same time, if that is even possible“,

 

” You are quite enjoying the game”

“And you are a tricky woman. Don’t think you can get away with it for long”.

 

“I don’t want to.”

Silence

 

“But, why me?”

“Because that’s what I want?”

 

“You do realize that I am nothing but an old bat with an evil past”.

“I like the way it sounds.”

 

“Maybe you do, but I am certainly not the man that you need”.

“I have seen the way you look at me.”.

 

“Maya, Don’t be ridiculous now. You were not even born when I first kissed! ”

“Well, I am here now”

 

“I see that you are! “

 

“So, does that mean anything at all to you? ”.

“Yes. The world”

 

PS: To Be Continued.. (Or Not?)

Literature

The mystery Man!

Those nights were sinfully cold and windy, when I sat there on the stone bench picturing the arrival of my mystery man. My mystery man who had made a slave out of the blowing wind. Around him, the wind, took its submissive being, and followed along his orders with a sense of urgency and fear. I imagined my man, his face- pale and wrinkled, yet helplessly charming, emerging from a distance smoking a thick puff of smoke around him . The wind, his partner in crime, promptly carried the pungent odour away from him in a matter of seconds and brought them  to me declaring his arrival. He looks several years younger than his age, thanks to his lean frame and impeccable taste in stacking the wardrobe with the right clothes. The aura around him was devastatingly unreal and he kept me on the edge every single time we met .This man, who I knew nothing about was effortlessly driving me insane and intrigued, inch by inch. I watched the kids around me play with their battered yet colored balls of red, white and blue.The honking and beeps of vehicles at a distance reached my ears as subtle tunes of a soft, mystical symphony.

Several nights had passed now, where me and him, would just walk along dusty empty walkways and argue on our takes on the world’s most pointless matters. Every night after on our return, we promise to never take another road together again. But, he would just turn up every next day as if this had become one of his habits. And I waited here day after day, as if this was my only reason for living. I wish I could romanticize the whole situation some more with descriptions of birds and tress and flowers which didnt exist to picture things perfect. But even in the obvious absence of any natural or unnatural hyperbole, the night couldn’t have been any less beautiful. The stone seats in the park I sat on, absorbed every bit of degree celcius’s it could  from me, in return spreading its chill unevenly throughout the length of my body. In a few minutes I had my legs curled up under my skirt and my hands had found a safe place in the deep pockets of my sweatshirt. I didn’t cover my face, I let the wind have its way, blowing past my hair,and slowly, sabotaging my minutes of effort to make them line the contours of my face exactly the way I wanted him to see it. My eyelids hugged each other for a split second or a little longer, but before I knew it, I was falling slowly, but steadily into the surreal world which worked in strange ways. My wind, mischievously crawled into my dreams and continued to blow in there as well.

“He is here!”, announced the wind forcing a stint of his manly odour into my nose as if to bring me back to reality.

I was grinding my teeth tightly now, no more able to bypass the intensity of the moment. The wind – flowing past me in an urgency to welcome its master, was touching and teasing me in more ways than one. This man, whose very thought triggers my wildest fantasy, whose presence makes me aware of the blood gushing through my veins was finally here. I do not know if it was the night or the wind or just the thought of his usual being, I was strangely aroused, so much that I gulped down my growing urge to run back to my house, away from his haunt. I felt a small tap on my shoulder. My shoulder almost entirely covered by the grey pullover and the black tee inside it. But I am certain that I felt a tip of his index finger touch the thin lining of the exposed skin in the valley down my neck towards my arms.I stood up and smiled at his empty face trying to pacify my heart beat which had began to rise to a palpable rhythm.

He didn’t smile back at me.

Or maybe he did.

It had always been difficult to read his face. In the years, he had mastered the art of deception pretty well. He concealed his deepest desires and fears locked up in some remote chamber of his heart, away from my  probing eyes. I knew that it was ages before he would actually let me into his lonely red island. The wind still blowing, caressing me and him together now, pulling the ends of my hair to catch upto his bearded face. He didn’t push them away, the strands of my messy hair now struggling its way to reach for his neck and then sliding their way higher up.

“My wind! Playing naughty games with me again, are you?”, I think.

My eyes were stuck on him – wandering deep into his thoughts , trying to make sense of this man who always made me a restless, impatient and curious woman.  He joined my gaze for a few seconds, reading my apparent turmoil before he convineantly looked back to the road ahead of us. I resisted my urge to cup his face in my hands to not let him escape my gaze anymore.

“Shall we go for a walk?”, he said finally standing up and shaking off our extremely dangerous and potentially risky eye contact.

I nodded.

“This way”, he pointed. “Against the blowing wind”, he added.

“He walks not by you, but against you! And yet, you seem to be in favour of his evil charm, my wind?”, I think.

I suppressed a smile inside to look at my mystery man – ever the unflinching rebel. His messy hair, wanton nature and gentle words. He was a strange strange combination, of morning sunshine and midnight black. It was his very native rebellious being, that draws me to it fiercly day by day. Every part of his being, intrigued me, excited me, fascinated me, aroused me furthur. He was so much like my wind. Gentle, yet brutal. Powerful yet weak. Humble yet defiant. I didn’t make an effort to hide my desires from him.While I was making these mental notes, his eyes came wandering back to mine.

Cautious.

Silent.

Helpless.

We start to walk. We took short measured steps forward through the pebbled pathway. My wind, flowing gently against me in caution, as if trying to stop me, warn me . I see him light his cigar again. I pull it out of his mouth and throw it down in the trash. He is angry now, he grabs the top my arm in a quick movement, then lets me go before turning back to walk again.But he did not light another one. I smile. I steal his hand and wrap it with mine to ease his temper. The kids in the park were throwing tiny smiles at us. Even the uncles hurrying on their way resolute in burning every bit of extra calourie they didnt need, shot mischievous glances at us.

” What must they be thinking? Do they take us for lovers? “

What do they see when they look at him, the uncles and the kids ?

What do I see when I look at him?

I see PAIN. Nothing but pain in his eyes and the void in his heart .

While my mind cruised along the horizons of possibilities of facts and figments around him, I felt his hands shake my shoulders again.My wind had started to follow us back , now blowing unevenly- smooth and hoarse, over and over. I was cold now, and hot, and my muscles started to tense. I feared the tips of my fairly concealed assets starting to peak out to give him a show of my wandering mind. I pulled the sweatshirt closer to me, still determined to walk forward against my wind and its wrath today.

With him, I was shades of multiple beings. I had alters, the shy one, the shameless one, the needy one and the childish one. As if in realization, he started speaking to me. My brain refused to keep records of his blunt revelations. He didn’t need a companion. He wanted to be the lonely man in the maddening crowd. He just didn’t need me. But I knew I was determined to give him everything he didn’t want. I didn’t dream of an exquisite wedding or of having two notorious masterminds to inherit his name. In my dreams there were no mansions or churches. There were roads, long and narrow and unpredictable. All I ever wanted was to walk with you. And to lay awake in the nights , not naked yet spent , of our intense undying conversations. My wind was growing hoarse and wild now, angry that I ignored its insistent premonitions. My mystery man, for once, held me close to him tight and wrapped his hands around me before my wind altered into his thirsty cousin-the storm.

Experiance, Personal

The IT Saga Of A Disillusioned Fresher : Dealing With The Expectations Vs Reality Crisis At An Urban Indian Workplace

images

That scary math test.

The finals of grade Eight.

The matriculation that came next.

And Engineering that gave me a fright.

And now a year at TCS has also gone past.

Over.Finished.

The room is silent except for the relentless thumbing at the keyboards and the slow murmur of my associates chatting in subtle and flawless malayalm like hushed school children.I am sitting in my square cubicle walking down the memory lane tracing the collage of events that led me here when my PL comes to me and suggest that I check my e-mail. Well, there is almost never any good news in the e-letters posted to your official id except on the very last working day of the month.The payroll tells you exactly how much of tax they have decided to keep to the last denomination, which is ALSO bad news.

In a workplace, there are three types of irresistible e-mails to (not) look forward to.

1. Your PLAN. The irony being the fact that you don’t get to make your own “plan”(s). These are priority number one. This is the only kind of e-mails you just cant afford to miss. Worse, you might would even want to probably keep a screenshot of it on your desktop, or pen them down on to your cute little sticky notes. It is a healthy practice to not take them lightly.

2. Then there are gentle reminders. Except for the very modest subject, there is nothing gentle about them.They tell you loud and clear that some work that was supposed to be done in the past is still lined up for your immediate attention and action.

3.  If credit card calls from customer care centers annoy you, you might want to relax a little bit and take these easy.There could be days when you miss the breakfast, but no single day gets to escape the wrath of system generated e-mails. For those who don’t want to start their day to empty mailboxes, they are good news.

So, today, I receive this stand out e-mail which do not belong to any of my categories. It was from our very own leading lady Linu appreciating our team for our  fantastic work in our ex-project.Of course I’m flaunting, the customer satisfaction survey figure reached up to an unprecedented 97 percentile.Considering the fact that with it came another good news that our boss has finally given me the permission to initiate the well-needed transfer, it is great news.

It is common practice for cubicle dwellers to be dribbled around to different projects to cater to business requirements. And dissolution of a team after a project is successful is only too normal a norm.But for some reason, even if it is not meant to be, this hurts.  Didn’t we move apart from our class mates in school? In college? At training? I mean now that we are adults, we are expected to embrace the idea more gracefully. The show must somehow go on. Our teachers did tell us that everything in the world is temporary. What they did not say is that things last shorter than what the definition of temporary would have implied, and that things would change, even if that’s not what you want.

This is one of those moments.I still remember the day I walked in to this office to be interviewed by our now-onsite and extremely cool-cooler-coolest leading lady Asha  along with the most humble and erudite Sheena chechi in the account who is the oxygen to every project going live. They took me to this really sophisticated looking conference room where the entry is restricted by a crazy anagram of letters and numbers.I was a little tensed and a little excited about my first project interview but somehow managed a confident face before them. Before they sit down, they ask for my name. The feminist in me smiled inwardly to find two women in the panel. And contrary to widespread belief, I found that interviewers do actually smile. They ask me a few questions. I tell them a few answers.

Next day an e-mail arrives confirming me to the role of a Designer/Developer. Tailing along the e-mail, I find an attachment which is supposed to carry the list of candidates confirmed for this project. I open the list to find my own name with another name next to it which read – Mangayarkkarasi Selvaraj (Although this mention might seem atrocious, it is also inevitable). The name ended in a vowel following an unsaid naming convention, suggestive for women(Like mini, devi, preeti, arundhathi and the likes).I started making a mental picture of my new team mate- a woman straight out of one of those Tamil daily soaps. I won’t make enemies by spilling out the essential figments of my wicked imagination but it did include lavishly oiled hair with flowers pinned to it.The next moment, I receive a phone call from mangayarkkarasi (whom I will shorten to Mangai from now on) and I hear her speak impeccable English at the other end of the line, that too without an accent. Felt as if someone had just shown a middle finger on my face. Well, I totally deserved that.  In that moment, I realized some thing about myself. Deep down beneath the layers somewhere, there was a pathetic pretentious judgmental racist in me.

We walk into our new territory and try to remember the corners of the place by heart as we walk past each hallway. One hallway lead to another and then to another, each time you take a 90 degree turn you walk into a similar junction that look exactly like the previous one. At some point, you feel that the maze symmetrically loops itself. Finally, we enter the room to find an array of clean cubicles. The rooms are illuminated by the brightest lights, just the way I like it. The kind of lights which do not have this depressing shade of retro yellow to it. Everything around was so clean. No crumbled papers. No trace of dust. No soiled clothes. Or traces of spilled water. Or littered corners. Everything near perfection. This somehow upset me. I always believed perfection had something to do with not being human. I feared if this environment is a professional adaptation of a convent school. I started picturing a spectacled boss and indifferent colleagues with bad temper.

Contrary to my expectations my project did not practice any form of professional hierarchy explicitly. No bigger cabins for the bosses the way you see in a TV series. Darn the TV series. Here, everyone sits next to everyone else. Fair enough if not more. But this comes as an unseeable bait for freshers like us. You just would not know when to stay cautious. I mean it is good to be yourself but then a little bit of extra professionalism before your seniors never harmed anyone. I knew the lesson, but I just didn’t know who my seniors were. The smartest and age-old way would have been to look for older people but then sweet Jesus, there were no old people in our project, none at all . Bingo. I knew the names but couldn’t remembered any faces initially. My brain couldn’t decipher and store so many pixels in a day. In that state of chaos and confusion, we kick started our career.

And then we got introduced to our team mates. Everyone smiled. No one so worked up that they give you frowns (Darn the TV series) Our ex-PL never overburdened us or patronized us but was skillfully smart to push us to do our best with a smile on his face. The positive thing was that the project was new and we were all equally ignorant. Our additional responsibility was to learn the professional jargons that every IT professional needs to know and effectively blend to their daily conversation. My dictionary just got richer with words like dependency, appraisal, competency, escalation, onsite, critical resource etc.

Work slowly gains momentum. Thank God for Suraj, I know there is someone like him everywhere, who is always willing to help. He starts with the do’s and don’ts and even takes the pain of sharing his own experiences as a fresher in the team. As he is gearing up to pursue his higher education abroad, I wish him all the best. Had it not been for him, we could have faced some major fall-outs in the execution of our project starting day one.

Luckily for me, one fine morning, our extremely versatile tool just crashed over three times, each time conveniently erasing all the previous data I had so earnestly entered into it over time. This would have made any normal women mad, but it caused some really untimely embarrassing body fluids to flow out of my eyes which destroyed my bad-ass reputation among my teammates. I was being unprofessional, I knew. That day my ex-PL Saneesh (chettan ) came to me and told me to chill. He told me it was okay. Faith in humanity restored.

There are all sorts of people in a crowd. Each one of us do have a few moments which we are not exactly proud of. But right here in my team I met a woman who refrains to fit into definitions. You give her a million dollars or you rob her off a million dollars, she will just smile at you. A woman who is by far the most soft spoken, tender heart-ed, kind and wholesome person I have ever met in my life. She is a tight slap on the faces of men who think women who do not complain are gone with the dinosaurs. For those men who are single and are looking for a peaceful future, Roshan is the kind of woman you should hunt down 🙂

The training process will scare you to death. They will warn you about arrogant managers, opinionated Team Leads, strict deadlines and heaps of monotonous ruthless coding. I want to believe that our project is a mysterious miraculous exception. Our lead is not only funny and friendly, Linu chechi is just the darling woman who knows how to handle a team replete of dumb freshers and yet drive them to get what she wants. The first thing and probably the only thing that makes your life easy at work place is an approachable and empathetic lead, and we just got lucky 😀

As our project gained pace, we got ourselves three new resources. The three ladies who brought in the well needed entertainment to our team. Divya is just gonna tie the knot is a woman I have known for years. I call her entertaining because she always has news for you. She has pictures she wants you to see, she has wedding plans which needs our immediate attention, she needs us to get past her bridzilla syndrome in dignity. Men might call this gossip, I call it knowledge sharing- we always always find the inevitable need to tell each other about what just happened to a friend who got married. About her major cooking fails. Or about the not-so-welcoming in-laws. Now, isn’t that supposed to help my innocent friend to prepare for the worst? She always has a smile and she never says no. I guess she would even think twice before beating a mosquito to death.This woman is patience and peace personified. In the previous birth, she would have been the kind of Mother Theresa because she is always willing to take the exxttraaaa effort.

Then there is Richu, the most adorable creature who is a diva and is in charge of keeping foolishness and sinful stupidity alive in our team. She is the kind of woman you should hang out with if you want to live a longer life. If minions were for real, she should have been one of them. Then there is Vidya,  this lady who is funny and if you are not close to her, you would never know that she is real competition to Kapil Sharma. She would just come up with the most amazing, out-of-the-world replies to the most mundane things.She is one of the very few people I know who are still worried sick of their grandmother. We just love our copy paste queen who is not scared of being out-rightly genuine.

Anna is the silent tutor who took on the mighty task to technically equip us with information was one of the most under-estimated resources in our project before she got hijacked to this new project. Now she is her own lead, team member and manger, because she single-handedly handles this stupendous project which leaves her desktop with codes all the time. The codes, Oh yes, those codes which always gave me goosebumps. We love her, we are going to miss her in the new ODC.

Then there is Krishnan- the impossible man. I do not know much about him to write a gripping note. What I do know is that when there is an issue which no one can resolve, he is your man.And I find it outrageously impressive because no matter how compelling a task may seem, he always figures the smartest way to do it.

I am sorry that there are no cruel anti-heroes in the story to spice things up a little bit. The closest it got was to leave us to handle with this outright ambitious Business Analyst (Amith- my personal favorite). The only one in the team who knows the professional jargons by heart and who practically never chooses to leave office. Our very own king of redundancy whose opinions go round and round who loves the a/c and coffee and visibility just too much. With every review he makes, you get to spent some more beautiful fruitful hours in your cubicle.You might even think that he is getting paid to make our lives hard. But here’s a man who takes his work seriously. Here is a man who takes an effort to belong here.Side effects of being friends with him comes with gaining extensive knowledge about the behavior of impulsive aries women or about what is trending in the economic times. Having said that, I should add that he is a sweet go-getter who makes the most pointless arguments sound sensible and the 97 percentile wouldnt have been possible without him..

Last but not the least the not-a-womanly-woman of our team and my bestie in the house is mangai. I have mentioned her already, but then that is never enough. My personal walking health monitoring device who can’t stop giving me gyaan about vegetables, diet, health, exercises and other things I don’t actually care about. She is married to her laptop and is in a lasting relationship with various TV shows she can’t pass a day without watching. Also diagnosed with mild shopaholism, she is a woman who believes that a woman without a man is like a fish without bicycle. An insane whirlwind of fun, she is warm and unpredictable and crude and everything you wont expect her to be.

This team is special not because it is my first job. Not only because I was a part of it throughout. Not because I hangout with my teammates all the time. Or because we are all alike here.Or because I had some crazy days here.It is simply because they are a bunch of extraordinarily different people who actually somehow mysteriously compliment each other gracefully. For appreciating my writing and for motivating me to write more. And because you guys did not make our first year horrible. And because you somehow made a positive influence on us all along. For not being impatient or snappy at our ignorance. And in the process, transforming amateurs into professionals. And for making the world a better place.And although I hate to be cheesy, I miss our TEAM already. 🙂

Many thanks!

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Of Lost Conscience !!

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Some stories need to be told even if it is sure to make you sick and uncomfortable.I want this piece to deeply unsettle you, disturb you, pull you out of your very equilibrium, to the extend that you decide to take that time to look around you and stay alert. And if you don’t want that, you can navigate back right away and spare yourself the horror.

And Yes! This is absolutely a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. However my protagonist and antagonist do have ideological and emotional resemblance to many many people, both living and dead.

Before I drop more clues on the story line and its relevance, I will start my narration.

Once upon a time there lived a woman. She learned that destiny works in mysterious ways when he asked her to marry him. She did not quite know why the most popular guy in the neighborhood picked the most invisible woman around. He was the youngest one down a family tree of proud businessmen and their marriage had been a major affair in the village. The flowing white gown, the orchids and lilies, the velvet cake- everything about their marriage was just too beautiful to be real. They lived in his prodigious mansion overlooking the meadows and mountains with his parents, brother, his wife and their baby Aliya- their sunshine.

He helped his mama cook her favorite fries and read out the news to his aging papa. He would often come back from work early to spend his long evenings with the family. Most Saturdays he would babysit Aliya while her parents took their well-needed break. He would take the baby in his tender hands with so much of compassion that even the sight would melt your heart. He would hum a feeble lullaby and disappear along the misty corridors and let the music echo around the house.As if by magic, in a few minutes, the baby would slowly stop mewling and fretting.

Despite everything being so close to perfect, she was not happy.  She felt a kind of emptiness within herself and assumed that he wasn’t really happy with her. Yes, he always had his dinner with her, but he was always metaphorically miles and miles away. He was gentle with her in bed but he never looked at her in the eye or whispered sweet nothings in her ears. Eventually, she figured that this indifference was something to worry about. Determined to make some serious amends to brighten up the marriage she broke the news of her pregnancy to him. He was ecstatic and she knew things would change for the best now on.

One of those days, she decided to take a walk along the hazy corridors watching the pansies and violets that filled the walkways which looked like an amazing collage of the most splendid colors. The baby was coming in a few weeks and she felt distinct waves of excitement and thrill pass down her spine all the time. She kept moving forward, running her fingers along the sides of the wall as she passed. She noticed a window to the play room left open and leaped on to close it shut because she did not want Aliya to catch a bad cold.

Young Aliya was in deep sleep, her tiny chest moving up and down like a piano playing a mystical symphony. She kept looking at the toddler for a few seconds and slipped a hand on her own bulging tummy to feel her cousin move within her to join the rhythm. Then, she saw her husband walk in to the play room. He cupped her face in his hands and planted a gentle kiss on her forehead. And then abruptly,as if taken over by an evil force, he was moving fast, and then faster, caressing and fondling with his niece as she watched in horror. The expression on his face grew more tense as she watched her husband pull the baby to his bare body. With each movement he made, she felt as if a heavy stab just slit through her bare skin. She watched in horror, cold and terrified, an image of her own husband turn into a monster. Before he could lower her down any further, she closed the window with a heavy thud. She saw him pull up his clothes and walk away in frenzy as soon as the sound of the slamming windows reached his eardrums. She pressed her tears and recalled in horror that the last time she had seen that expression on his face, she was under him.

She felt weak and helpless. Her immediate thoughts, contrary to what I would have liked, were not about calling the cops or about exposing the gruesome obscenity. She felt heinous and nauseous but somehow, she believed that no one would believe her. She did not know if she would be able to save the kid every time. She also knew that she did not have the strength to confront him or demand some serious explanations. That night she did not sleep. She spend hours with the phone in her hand wondering if she should dial 100. She thought of the vows they made at the wedding and decided that this was the toll she had to pay to conserve his honor. Everyone has an ugly secret. This was going to be her’s. Her betrothal to a vile pedophile.

She believed that with the arrival of their son, he would be a changed man. Until one day, only a few months later, she walked into their room to find Rihaan asleep right after his dad left the room with that familiar monster expression on his face.

“It is us today, it will be you tomorrow.” – Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia

P S: I do not know when or where we started loosing as a human race. We live in this society where the sacred bonds of being a father or daughter or wife or mother no more deter us from exercising horrible crimes like these which are not only detestable but are also atrocious and immoral. Sexual abuse is a terrible , terrible thing to happen to anyone. Having said that, it kills me to even dare to fathom the emotional and mental devastation that would be perpetrated on children who fall victim to these. Do they not realize that these leave a burning scar on the lives of the victim forever and ever ? Remember that atrocities like these- marital rape, domestic abuse, honor killing, cruelty towards women and elderly-  keep happening because of people like you and me who choose to remain silent because we live in a delusion. We do not want to see our husbands or siblings or kids get punished even if that comes at the cost of posing a threat to many others. If you ask me, they need to be send to concentration camps, if not worse.I won’t guide the directions to your thought process beyond this point. You can be the woman in the story or not, it is your choice.

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An Untold Story!

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I have a story to tell you.
For a change, an uncharacteristically real one. No lousy figment of imagination or any alliteration and rhyme- scheme patched  literary modus operandi  to make it look like a bizarrely compelling piece of writing. No clichéd introductions or vague explanations. Nothing to cater to your thrill seeking appetite today. Not because I do not want to, but because  in dealing with issues like these, there is a need to be loud,clear and fiercely honest.

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Her little secret.


One. Two. Three. She pulled the trigger and let the bullet fire out of her revolver mercilessly to hit him right at his chest. She watched him fall to his knees and shout out in pain as the bullet seared through his flesh. Blood was oozing out of his body in a thick fountain as he struggled to keep himself alive. And then she moved her arm to slightly adjust her aim and pulled again. And again.

Arushi
She was extraordinarily beautiful for her age with large almond shaped eyes and thick lashes to adorn it. She wore elegant clothes and made sure she was always in the best of her looks. When she was a kid, her parents often took her to attend dance classes apart from lessons in swimming and karate after school. She smiled often and everyone loved to have her around all the time which means she had a benevolent list of close friends. She was childish and innocent and was a gentle soul. In spite of her blissful aura and alluring nature, there was something about her that was equally disturbing and poignant. When she felt bored she would just pack her bags and be gone to some new travel destination she found on the world wide web. She preferred traveling alone and was known to keep her travel history to herself .
Ananya
Ananya had never been happy all her life. She was lonely and miserable and desperate. She never made many friends or felt the need to socialize with people. She knew that her very birth was not something anyone would be proud of anytime. She was never a part of a family. She often spent her days in the farmhouse shut out from the world and figuring out plans to murder him. After she had done that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to stay, she wouldn’t  mind disappearing even. She often wore many layers of ill-fitting large sized clothing and never combed her hair or put on make up. She would pull her hair to an ugly massive bunch to the mountain of her head and cover her face with a shawl as if to combat the dust and heat. It had been many years now. She wasn’t able to track him down. That infuriated her. She would cut herself on her most private parts to relive the pain he gave her that day. She would never let the pain go away.
That night she was going back from school after her session that lasted a little longer. Her parents would usually sent a car for her, but apparently it was late today. She was always eager to walk her way home. She wanted to cross the roads and watch the streets as she went. She was 10 and the mundane things like the birds and trees and shops and the sight of people were all exciting to her. Her hair was tied up neatly in two long plates and she was  wearing the blue-white uniform.The water bottle clung to her chest, she held her scrap book in her left hand and was wondering deep and hard about what sketches to make for the next day. She was too young to realize that she was being followed or to think of any reason why anyone would follow her. Not until 5 minutes later.

An hour later she lay there on the road wounded, hurt, terrified , shattered and shedding her hottest tears. The trauma had been too much for her to take.  She didn’t know what that meant, she only knew that it hurt so badly that she wanted to die. She didn’t know it had anything to do with her honor or pride but knew it took away something from her that she will never have again. She cried out in pain, more mental than physical. The episode had been traumatic and she has not smiled since. That day,at the age of 10, she died her first death and the same day she swore to herself that she would kill him someday. But she was scared. She wasn’t a cold breed. But somehow he had to die. She shall seek vengeance. Of course, he didn’t anticipate that she would come back for him.
Finally, the day of judgement arrived. Ananya was driving the jeep frantically. It had taken her years to track him down. She was swearing to herself in native Hindi as she moved past monuments and traffic lights through the brisk Mumbai traffic. Each time she stopped at a signal, she slipped her dirty figures into the pocket of her ill- fitting clothes to feel the revolver. Sometime later, she brought her vehicle to an abrupt halt and jumped out of it. She walked straight into the shack and found him meddling with the newspaper on the floor. Apparently, he didn’t recognize her. He asked her who she was to which she only smiled.
One. Two. Three.

Arushi opened her eyes slowly. Her eyelids found it difficult to part ways and her head was aching badly. She couldn’t recognize where she was or why she was here. This has been happening to her quite often. She would wake up in different places, cities , often it was a farmhouse. And when she woke up, she would have no memory of what happened to her in those days. Or how she reached there. She instantly realized that Ananya had taken over her again. Luckily for her, Each time she disappeared ,her friends thought she had gone on one of her trips again. That was a relief though. She didn’t want to scare anyone with the reality. Usually when she came to her senses several days would  have passed since she could last remember. She knew this had everything to do with the incident that happened to her several years ago. Her little secret. She has had bizarre visions of herself wearing ugly shirts and jackets murdering him someday. Sometimes she would push him off a cliff. Sometimes she would race her car into him. At other times, she imagined setting him on fire. Or have him hanged to death. Nothing seemed to suffice. Nothing seemed real until now. After that day, she had never taken the road home. She didn’t tell anyone about it. By the time she understood what that meant, it was too late to tell anyone.
Today, the place seemed different. This place looked dirty and tacky. For one second, she feared that she had been kidnapped during one of these days of hibernation. She didn’t know how many days exactly yet. In the next second, she was both panting desperately and struggling to quickly get up and run to the corner of the room. She was both scared and nauseated at the sight she saw now. Her clothes were ugly and dirty and she held a revolver in her right hand. To her right there was a pool of blood and a man lay dead right at the center. It seemed as though he was shot several times. She bent down to get a closer look at his face. She stood still, her hands shaking, terror racing up her nerves and pain searing through her flesh. He was not someone she would forget.