Thursday, June 16, 2016

Vainglory of the Pandering Soul

artwork by SK 2009
Flash Fiction (144 words)

I see the age in front of your senses. #iceage Icy waters fountains and waterfalls. I see his busy footfalls at mount Hayabuschi. Is pander a real job, I ask him. No, he says, rivers flow when kings are made. He says he panders only to kings. Why? What’s so great about kings? 

They can’t even fly. I can.

But what is constant on Earth for birds to find their way back after northern migration, he asks? All forests looks the same from up there. All rivers glitter. What men can build will let birds not flounder. Pyramids are just the tip of the fountain. Man has mapped the earth for birds. It is now their turn to give back.

But what do I have to give? One forty four is the limit of my speech.

Forget speech. Sing bird. That’s what he said. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Vainglory of a Dancing Soul

She thinks the world is watching her. In her opinion, the universe responds to her touch, her simple tinkering in crayon and mush. Her every syllable is caught by the winds and whispered in strangers’ ears. Her every muse transformed into a soul that lives inside a human being. She is yet to be discovered, but thinks of it as inevitability. She can’t avoid it, so she bides her time in vainglory and indiscriminate thought on all kinds of sciences.

The Dancing Soul never quite emerged in the world of science, but she has a furious passion for it, and with passion, she thinks she can transform anything. Her nuances are known to all those she has in her circle of trust. Her ideas however, remain unknown even to those few souls. The great tragedy of her life is that she hasn’t found a single pebble that bore her name. It wasn’t human eyes she dances for, it was the eye of earth itself. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

MAN is an ANGEL – A poem inspired from the Strangers Series (in this blog)

artwork by Sneha Koilada

He sees you. The complete you.
For a moment, he lusts for you…as is his habit.
If your eyes don’t speak to his, he kills that lust.
But still, he talks to you. Finds out your origins.
He wants to find out, why it is that he wants you in his life.
He sees not the real you, but the potential you represent.
If you are a reader, he will tell you his will is not yours to mend.
If you are an artist, he will show you, you are not your only muse.
If you are a listener, he lists you his inspirations.
If you are an emblem, he will show you what you really stand for.

Man is an angel, when he doesn’t have to be in your life.

Man is a melody, when he is in your life. You may not like the melody, but that is what he is.

Man is fear, when he has to be in your life. A fear you must conquer.

Man is mist when he is driven to be in your life. A mist you must learn to see through in order to find yourself.

Man is more…he is always more, because the universe does not end with your ‘self’.

Self is just the beginning. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Story of Time Out:

                                   Parenting Without Physical Abuse

I decided to write this article not because I want to be a parent, but because I was once a child. Educated parents world over have begun to accept that it is not ok to beat a child even if the level of irritation he or she causes is driving them mad inch by inch. The western world propagated several behaviour modelling techniques, 'time-out' being one example that stands out. It is simple enough, it works on a dog and it should ideally work on children. It is old enough now, for some of the time-out children to have grown into adults and found their own purpose in life. So let's look at the lives of two such children XX and XY through the eyes of fiction to see how they have fared. They were both well loved children from mid-income-group families.


XX was a passionate child, who was very good at her studies and pretty much everything else that she did. She was the second child and as such mother knew exactly how she wanted to parent her. XY was an extremely energetic child who was a joy to be around since the moment he was born. His mother was well read in all the methods of parenting and she knew exactly how she would handle the child too. With love.

By the time XY was two, he was already coupling sentences, and by three, he was telling stories. He had incredible amounts of energy and he always had one more story to tell before he fell asleep. If his mother realised that, it would've been good, but she thought he wouldn't sleep as long as she was in the room. So she began to leave him alone at night, after tucking him in. XY didn't like it. He couldn't adjust to the new regime for a long time and tried to change it by being cranky all day long.  When she realised she couldn't control him by sharp words anymore, XY's mother brought in another new technique into the picture, called the time-out. 'I am going to punish you,' she proclaimed, making XY think of all the worse things he heard about parents from his kindergarten friends, "Go stand in that corner, facing the wall," she said. After imagining the worst, XY was quite happy to do his mom's bidding and stood in the corner. It didn't seem hard at all...for a full two minutes. After that, his back grew eyes and told him exactly when the situation looked hopeful. He kept darting looks at his mother, waiting for her to call him back, but she sat quietly on the couch knitting a sweater. He imagined she must be going through the same pain he was. His mother always knew exactly how he felt. But then, her face was calm and cool while his was crumpling by the second. Ten minutes was an unimaginatively long time for XY, while for his mother, it was one row of stitches on the new sweater. Time-out worked perfectly well on XY and his mother taught herself to provide and withdraw attention as and when it is convenient for her. It wasn't always time-out that worked, it was the principle.

XX's mother wasn't as imaginative as XY's. She knew through experience that having rules was the only way a child's behaviour can be managed. The rules can never be broken, that's the only way. She learnt it the hard way with her first child. XX was a bright child, but it was hard to get her attention. That was the only problem with her. Her mother didn't really have a reason to punish her, until she found XY eating chalk in her father's study. She gave her her first time-out. XY tried it out, just like XX, but she had none of the feelings of remorse afterwards. For the first time, she used her words and called her mother stupid. It was all very funny. The family had a good time at dinner. The chalk problem never came to cease, and by the time XX's mother tried out calcium supplements, it was too late. XX began to like it. She learnt at the age of five how to hide things from her mother, and she was successful owing to the fact that XX's mother was a working woman. Her other problems emerged soon too. Being rude to her teachers, throwing tantrums when asked to eat her food, etc. XX's mother could handle almost everything. She couldn't handle XX's fights with her brother though. It seemed like all of her work in taming her firstborn, who was almost exactly like XY we described earlier had gone to waste. The fights between the siblings were long drawn and often ended with someone getting hurt. Mostly, it was XX, but she was shameless and went after her brother again the next day. 'He's a good boy. She provoked him,' XX's mother said to her father in passion after one such fight, afraid that he might hurt the child. XX's father decided long ago not to raise his hand against his children, but her mother never believed him. She knew his temper very well, and it was simply a matter of time for it to boil and for him to lose control. For her age, XX understood her mother's situation. From then on, whenever her brother and XX were both in a time out, she stopped looking at him, waiting for the time out to be over to see if he wants to go back to the fight. She simply sat down doodling on the ground with her fingers that were always moist with sweat and very soon, fell asleep.

XX and XY met when they were adults and fell in love. He told her that he loved his mother, but she never paid any attention to him and that hurt him deeply, growing up. She told him that mothers are crazy and they never understand the emotions of their children. He should let it go. XY was a fine young man with an excellent career and he knew that the only direction he would go is up. XX was a flaky young woman who was never satisfied with a single career. She wanted all of them. Her mother called her Jack of all trades and Master of none and that was her biggest insecurity. XY pushed her to focus and become the master of one trade. Secretly, though XX wanted to become the Jack and all Trades and Master of all too. XX had emotional issues, XY had issues with lack thereof. She couldn't handle his passion, he couldn't handle her apathy. XX reminded XY of the worst things about his mother, XY reminded XX the worst things about her father. Eventually, XX became the master of a trade, but XY was no longer in her life. She put him on indefinite time-out and moved on with her life.

XY grew vengeful over time and thought about finding XX and killing her many times over a period of three months. He grew up to be a brilliant strategist and he knew very well, he would be successful at getting away with doing it. Only one question stopped him.

What if I like the act of killing? 

When the time-out ends, XX is going to be back in XY's life. Just like waking up from a dream, and finding herself in her mother's arms when she was a kid.

Parenting without physical abuse doesn't guarantee that mental abuse does not happen. What is described in the story is an example of the most minimal mental abuse a mother can impart on a child. In all likelihood, she was helpless against it, despite her good intentions. Still, depending on the rest of the environment, the culture and the company a child is exposed to growing up, different kinds of rationale can develop from that tiny sliver of mental abuse. Crimes of passion are not always be performed in a fit of uncontrollable rage. XY felt helpless throughout childhood against the tides of his mother's attention. When he realized XX was the same way, he decided to do something about it. XY may never go as far as the worst case scenario, but in thoughts and in unconscious actions, he might be drawn to it over a long period of time. If circumstances are in favor of this particular fate, who could stop it? Only XY. But XY loves his mother and doesn't know where his deep seated resentment for women comes from. As such, the actions that are a result of that resentment are unconscious in nature. XY doesn't know why they happen. Who can tell him? XX can tell him, but she dumped him because she gave up fighting with her brother long ago and couldn't ever find that same level of energy to raise her voice and fight to be heard. Her mother never allowed the siblings to finish the fight they started among themselves, in fear that some physical abuse may come upon her daughter. As such XY came to believe that there is no fight worth starting in this world, and if one starts on its own, it isn't worth finishing. She grew up being fascinated by Eastern ideas of peace and non-violence and expects fate to bring good things to her. She doesn't know of any other way how they would come to her.

I would like to conclude that parenting is neither a science nor an art yet. It is a fledgling idea that is yet to take concrete shape. Ten thousand years of civilization later, humanity is still lagging behind in understanding its multitudinous forms. Only a parent can finish the story of Time Out, so lets all hope that it has a happy ending.

Note to blog readers: How to create a Delusion and The story of Time Out are experimental pieces that I am using to develop a format that involves both story telling and opinion. The idea is to merge them both together into a seamless form, so that propagating new ideas will become easier for any writer without the endless research to prove his/her point. An article is not meant to prove anything, it is merely a statement. Whether a statement of fact or fiction must be left to interpretation. So that's the purpose of these story-articles. 

I will soon be posting more in the same format, so that my opinions may be heard. I want to know if I am right about them, and only a reader can tell me if I am. Thank you for reading. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How to create a delusion

Almost as soon as we arrives at consciousness as children, we experience imagination. Some of us, who are born lucky, go to schools that encourage creativity, and the imagination that fuels it. Others are told great things about imagination. That it is boundless. That it is faster than even light. That it takes the mind from one place to another without expending any energy. That it can make you happy even when things are the darkest. And of course, imagination is always the one thing you need when you just can't seem to get a break no matter how hard you try. As an added advantage, imagination also takes you away from reality.

Truth is, all of us have imagination. Indeed it is a really sorry specimen among mankind, if there is one such that does not possess imagination. That means, all of us are at least a few degrees away from what is really real. I do not need to be a neuroscientist to arrive at that conclusion, although neuroscience did point me in the direction. It takes the brain eight microseconds to put together a complete picture that it gets from the senses. That means, there are eight microseconds between every slide of reality where the rest of the brain that has nothing to do with the senses to make its own contribution. Most of the time, these contributions are not verified by the next slide and so the brain refuses to acknowledge and add them to the slideshow called reality. However, aided by imagination, it may add these contribution to the list of 'possibles'. For example, supposing that every time someone makes a joke, you imagine them to have broad pointy ears like an elf, then at some point, after slight inebriation or on a really joyous occassion, you may see someone sporting broad pointy ears while they are making a joke. The visual overlap would be real as real, but you know you created it, because you have consciously imagined it for a long period of time. And if your stars are good, the illusion goes away the moment the joke is over.
Artwork by Sneha Koilada

It is quite common for a painter to see colours merging and separating like a real visual phenomenon and for a musician to hear musical notes in entirely non-musical situations, like in a boardroom. However, artists have the advantage of knowing the source of the illusion as the subject of imagination is limited to their area of work. If a painter sees hues of green and crimson in the sky one evening, the next morning, when he paints, he will realise that the overall colour of the sky he had seen the previous evening cannot be achieved by mixing green and crimson. But still, if he likes his imagination and thinks there is worth in sharing it, he will paint a sky with hues of green and crimson. He will know that the reality is different, but the representation is worth looking at too.
Now, take a wannabe painter. Mr. X has won a painting competition when he was ten and considers himself very talented till date. He became a software engineer as per his parents' wishes, but he still looks at the world as a very colourful place. In fact, he wishes everyone does. He wishes his girlfriend can notice those hues of crimson and green in the sky as the sun set, and realise that it is the reflection of the green earth reminding people of what a wonderful world we live in. But naturally, the earth is not green, and Mr. X will realise it sooner or later. He's already had a horrible argument with his girlfriend who not only laughed at him when he said, that colour in the sky was a reflection, but also told him in no uncertain terms that it wasn't green at all. It was a shade of brownish-grey caused by the clouds of pollutants in the metrolitan sky.

Brown...he wonders, as he takes the bus to the office next morning. Isn't it the natural transformation of green, as the leaves wither and fall? If you look close enough, all brown is green and all green is brown. The hypothesis is confirmed when he pauses mid-stride while entering the office and goes into a trance looking at a fallen leaf. Trance is a medium for imagination to alter states more quickly than usual, as a person's cognitive functions slow down when there is conscious withdrawal from the senses. Of course, our legendary Mr. X has no way of recognising this state as he has never consciously induced a state of trance in himself.  Instead, he arrives at a conclusion that the world is withering, that it is about to fall, and he who sees that all brown has green within must breathe fresh life into it. The leaf that has fallen at the right moment, just at the tip of his foot when he was about to walk into the office, was a sign from God that he must now devote himself to a new purpose. Inspired by the divine aid, Mr. X takes the day off, goes home and makes an extraordinary painting that reflects the true green in the polluted sky. Indeed, this painting is almost as good and just as meaningful as our painter's was, earlier. One big difference though:

"Now you see what the real sky looks like?" he says, when his girlfriend arrives in the evening, after work. To her awe-inspired face, he explains, "This is reality! It's just 'coz people are so blinded by their negativity, that they can't see the true colour of the sky."

In the night, as they're both sipping wine in the balcony, he describes to her the different colours of the moonlit city. She listens to everything patiently, and frowns only on occassion when she really has trouble imagining such things as a woman's placenta stretched horizon to horizon. But our observant Mr. X who, having been touched by God, now doesn't miss a thing, asks her if she's laughing to herself underneath that patient veneer.

"No," she says, but not fast enough.

To show her, he takes another day off, to paint the placenta that looks exactly like the night sky. He feels like a baby, experiencing the world from underneath his mom's belly, and feels really precious to be alive. He just wants to share that feeling with his girlfriend, a woman. He wants to show how grateful he is for her kind. She comes home that evening, and nods and smiles again at his new work. Although, she does mention that it needs a little work. It's not as perfect as the last one.

Our legendary artists remembers the feeling he got while he was working on the painting. "No," he says, "This is my masterpiece. It's perfection itself. I'm thinking of buying a gold frame for it and hanging it above the couch in the living room."

His girlfriend swallows soundlessly. "So that everyone we know can see..."


"Exactly," she mumbles. She stops herself from saying anything else on the subject, knowing his legendary temper. She changes the topic, "So, are you going for work tomorrow?"

"Work...?" he says, distractedly, "Oh that work...Funny, it doesn't even seem like real work...I mean, what was I accomplishing, really? It's a multi-million dollar set up, yet there is nothing spectacular than can be done there. But here, with just colours, and a little imagination, look what I've accomplished."


"This...the masterpiece...Don't you think it has the potential to change the world?"

Our legendary artist's girlfriend doesn't even take a second look at the painting. "You mean you're quitting this job too??! JUST HOW MANY TIMES AM I SUPPOSED TO FOOT THE BILLS ALL BY MYSELF?"

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just a Story - Art & Life

Words are his. His meaning hers. Waiting. Always waiting. I for him. He for her. 

I for life.

He, death.

I was watching Aashiqui II tonight. Now, there are certain movies, certain books I avoid for reasons I could only sense, but could not figure. Naturally, I would know nothing about them. Ayn Rand's Fountainhead was the first I could name. I heard a lot about her. As a struggling writer who was yet to come to form, I did not want to get influenced. At least, that was the reason I gave some friends. As it happened, I just intuitively avoided the book. And then there was Artemis Fowl, during my teenage-fantasy obsession phase. Which, I must add, was quite recent. I thought, nothing in a childrens' novel would remotely faze me. But I avoided the series anyhow. How right I was too, 'coz it tore me inside out, some parts of the series when I finally got to the bottom of it. And it was never meant to be that way. I'm just not the right audience for the series. I understood too much. Nobody's supposed to understand so much.

Now, there is Aashiqui II.

Nobody's supposed to understand so much. And nobody, ever, is supposed to identify.

Not with this. Not him.

This stereotype that is not quite a stereotype. This character that is not quite fictional.

Because he exists, but his existence is just as much a fantasy. A notion, really. Not to be seen. Not to be felt. Not to be walked in, the path he creates. A person, not misunderstood, but one that cannot be understood. The artist. The alienated boy genius. The man who lives for his work. The one who has nothing beyond it.

I suppose that's me too. And I ain't nothing yet.

Suicide, yes.

Oh, the indelible lure of suicide.

And I knew she heard me. She's always heard me. Been hearing me. In my thoughts. In my head. Always. And now she will know. 

Only she. 


She will know why. 

I just don't. 

A friend of a friend, a girl who was in love with the wrong person. An artist who just didn't have the space to create, a daughter who couldn't express to her parents what she wanted in life, someone I just didn't know, attempted suicide quite recently. And the toll it took on her, I am pretty sure, she wasn't looking to come back. I was like...

Always in my thoughts. Always, but not random. Never random. Why not. Why the hell not? Why remain a mystery even to myself, when I know exactly what I want? 

Why is death such a bad thing, if brought upon oneself? 

There are a lot of us. There are a lot of me. We, who grew up thinking we are unique. We, who know now, that everyone is. And the magic has just gone out of our existence. We exist to serve others. In our words, if one finds meaning, we revel in their comprehension. In our creations, if one finds themselves, we back away quietly. Let them be the only ones there, in that magical land we created, but never found ourselves in. Were never meant to find ourselves in. And we knew that, as creators. From the beginning. Not for us, these fruits of our toil. Our journey, we...

Sing to ourselves. 

Tune in my head. Aaarrgggh....

However far and deep shall I go, to escape your breath. That which dictates my existence. Tune in my head. Rations my joys. Supplicates my emotion. 

Makes me her slave, until those mighty sounds I let roll. Voice of my soul, this tune in my head.  

And how I love her. 

More than anything, any real person. I love her, tune in my head. The unborn. Mine and mine alone. Waiting for my voice to find her. Just one last time. 

And then she'll go away. Away, into the echoes. Into ether. Into energy. Breath. Thought. Just a glance in a different direction. 

She'll go away again. Leave me all alone, unable to explain myself. To the real people. 

Unable to explain why. 

What makes me me. Why am I so miserable? Why I desire nothing. Why I have everything and yet had let loss alone find me. Over and over, bit by bit. So much loss. Why. 

I waste away. I escape. Hide in my addictions, my hideousness  The anger I use to build walls around myself. I cannot see. I refuse to see. Anything. Anyone. Everything is just the same to me. 

Until she is reborn. In a different form. Shape and body. A new meaning. A new stirring in my gut. A new emotion. Something I've been blind to, all my life, she will show me. And I shall watch, my eyes lit awonder. I will find...ah, such sweet relief. That all my wait, all that ugliness was not for nothing. She will show me how to love again. Tell me why the world is beautiful. And I will listen.  

One last time, before she leaves. 

Empties away, from my head where she's born. Leaving no trace of ever being there. Numbs my fingertips where she took her first breath. Twists my gut until all meanings choke away, into never having reason to exist in the first place. 

Tune in my head, when she leaves, she leaves my heart where she found it. Open. Vulnerable. 

Unimaginably sensitive. 

Oh, how I hurt. And for nothing, how I hurt. All for nothing, how well I hurt. 

Unfortunately, I knew how the movie would end before it began. My cousins told me, and as a group, we had some exposure to suicide when we were newly young. It never worked. It is never supposed to work. But sometimes it does.

I wanted to tell him to stop. I wanted him to listen. I knew he was lying when he says he would get all better. Change. I've been there. I've done that. It's what we do. We lie. But some of us are less fortunate. We are more courageous when it comes to that final step. Not anyone I know. But they are there.

I've lost characters before. Those I  painstakingly created. Person in my head that I just had to kill, in order to finish telling his story. I didn't realize it the first few times, but the last time it happened, it was as if someone near and dear had gone. In fact, it was worse. Person in my head, when he left, it was as if the world's complaints were mine. This fragile body, the victim of all. Because when you truly see the world through something else, something objective - not you, not yours, a creation, an entity independent of you - when you learn to exist beyond your own self, that's when you are most afraid. For everything other than yourself.

I suppose Rahul's fear for Aarohi's newfound voice is similar to my fear for his character. Man's true creation. His art. But at least, as a writer, I have the advantage of thinking Rahul in terms of a person. Not just an object. Not a tune. Not a voice. Not a declaration of colours. A living, breathing person. I can see him wherever I go. Interact with him through real people in whom I see glimpses of him, even though his fate was true. Take care of someone else in place of him, if that screaming urge I felt to change his fate was right.

But life was not like that, for Rahul. Those artists have nothing to compare their emotions to. To understand that the process of creation, biological or otherwise, is immensely complicated and society does not have the answer for it. Alcoholism wasn't the problem.

Art is.

How we take it's fruits and never look twice at the person who created it. How we never think it's important where something we enjoy comes from. What it takes, really, to challenge the norms and make something new. It's not all rebellion, not ambition, not drive, not success.

It's life.

Art is.

And as long as we turn a blind eye to the reality of it, our artists will suffer. Our writers will be alone. Our innovators will be challenged, insulted, berated, left to their doom behind all the worthless praise. Our world-view will continue to be lopsided, because this part of it, the one I belong to, I am sorry does not belong to your 'reality'. Part of it belongs to the future.

Future where the tune comes from.

He will know what I mean.

Only him.

I am inadequate with my words, just as he was with his actions. And when he takes a new one this time, we will tell you the story.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

He Says To Me, My Baby....

*A Hero's Journey*

This is not part of The i Series, but this is the character's journey in first person account. I never wanted to give Rishi voice, the chance to speak his mind, but he asked me of it. At some point during my journey of creating the i Series. It's a set of five books - three as trilogy, one culmination, one catharsis. After I was done writing Catharsis, I was still so lost. I never thought the story would end. So I gave in to that voice of his. Let him speak, if just a little, if only for a while. Tell me the story, as I have told you. And he did. For some time, he really did. 

But an end is an end. We decided that. Together. 

All I ever wanted was for dad to come get me. Like, yeah, I explored, I conquered, I did a great many things. But I wanted dad. Of course, it was all a ploy for attention. I, who cannot pay attention to anything wanted it more than anything. Every street corner I turned, I looked for dad. Every car door that ever opened, I waited for dad to step out. Every crew cut or uniform I saw, I thought it was dad. Doesn't matter what uniform. Even autowallahs wore uniform. Dad could be undercover. Dad could be in costume. Dad could be a superhero. Dad. Dad. Dad.

He never came for me. I was the one who always made the distress call. Dad, I'm stuck. Dad, I'm hungry. Dad, I'm sick. Yeah, I'll listen to you. I'll do whatever you say this time. I'll go to school. I'll make grades. Please daddy, I'm really hurt. I haven't had food for ten days. I had malaria. They thought it was jaundice. Someone tried to kidnap me. Someone stole my money. The mafia tried to traffick me off to Hong Kong. I'm desperate. I have no one. I'm sorry. And then he'd come. Not in person. He'd send someone. Your dad's too busy. Your dad's in the field. Your dad sent me because I was the closest to your location. He didn't want you to wait. He wants you to come home immediately. He wants you to be safe. He really cares about you. He loves you so much. It's all true.

I would try to apply myself once I was back home. I never paid any attention to mom. Didn't need her. Didn't need myself. Just dad. Maybe when dad returns from the field, he'd bring me a PS3. Maybe he'd take me to Malaysia. Maybe he'd buy me new Nikes. Maybe he'd take me to the horse farm, enroll me in lessons. Maybe we'd ride together. We'd be so awesome at it. Two riders. Not a care in the world. And then he'll show me how to use a gun. Of course, he would. I'm his buddy. We're best mates. We'd go to the practice yard, shoot the hell out of those dummies. Bam. Bam. Bam! It would be so much fun. To look at dad's face that is, when he realises I'm the better marksman. Of course, I would be. There's no contest. Doesn't matter how many years he had on me. I'm the best at everything that I do. If I'm not strong enough to hold the sniper rifle, I'd draw energy from The Place. Blast his mind. Oh it would be so much fun.

I mean, the first time, when I'm still on my learning curve, dad would lose just to encourage me. I'll see through it, of course, and I'd pretend I didn't. And then I'll show him. He'll keep losing to me the rest of his life, and then I'll reverse the trick on him. Pretend to lose myself. He'd believe me. That's how good I am. Eventually, he'd just praise me. Tell me I'm the best. Tell me he's lucky to have me. It would be like I never even ran off. It'd be like old days. I don't remember which, but I'm sure there is something. We were best buds. Or we were supposed to be. Everybody knows that, even if I never experienced it. Maybe when I was younger. When I was six or something. Dad told me everyone thinks he's their best bud, but he doesn't think that of anyone. I knew it was because he reserved that position for me. I just have to be a man. As soon as possible. Now, if it's not too late.

Dad twists the key in the lock and I slide the handcuffs off. Rub my wrists like I was supposed to. I don't even know who put them there or why. I was having some kind of bad dream. And now I was here. Dad's on the table, facing me, and I was in the chair in some kind of an interrogation room. It's all cool. It wasn't really that bad a dream. It started out to be the best ever. I was at this chai parlour messing with my buddies, when these really serious, really bulky uniforms accost me. I get goosebumps evertime I look at uniforms like I said. It's a sign. But no one ever spoke to me personally or pretended to notice me. Not these guys. These guys were here for me. It's so obvious. I give them a big goofy grin. Finally! They don't return the sentiment. They think I'm a flight risk. Which, naturally I am. They can never catch me if I run. It's just the way I am. I move as if to show them and they jerk in reflex. Their point made. You can't escape. Like hell I can't! But I know who sent you. And I want to meet the man. Introduce him to my girlfriend if I can. He'll see what I'm made of. He'd want me to come home, of course. Tell some sob story about how mom's never been the same. And I'd tell him, well, too little too late. I'm a man now. I don't need you or anyone else. Then we'll shake on it. It's all cool.

Except, those guys weren't. They frightened me with their dumbness. Couldn't they see how excited I was? This is my moment! But after another two seconds when they didn't seem likely to change their stance, I panicked somewhat. None of the earlier signs were dad. And if these guys were sent by him, they'd come straight off with the information, wouldn't they? Like all the other guys when I made the distress calls. Your dad sent us to get you. It's the plain old routine. With one difference. I didn't make the call this time. Dad never sent anyone when I didn't make the call. These guys weren't dad. I run. They catch me. Shove me in the back of a van. Story of my life.

And now I'm here. They must have drugged me. Dad's studying me, his one foot dangling by the knee in a steady rhythm.

"I thought it was a bad dream..." I say.

"What was?"

"Those guys really hurt me. They drugged me. Damn!"

"Yeah, sorry."

"It's not your fault. They should've just come out and said you wanted to see me."

"I told them not to."

"Why not?"

"Thought you would run away."

"Without meeting you? That's just stupid."

"Nothing you haven't done before."

I sulk for a while. Try to feel good. It was dad, after all. Why would I run? I'd meet you face to face like a man and then run if I feel like it. I sulk some more, wanting to hit something. I hit the leg of the table. Really, I was so angry. I thump my fist on the surface. Shove it and grunt. My chair moves back. Table doesn't move an inch. Of course. Dad was sitting on it. Maybe I should do a trick. That'll get him to his senses. See what he's dealing with.

"What do you want?" I bark.

"Hmm..." he says casually, still studying.

"I'm not going back home! Go to hell if you want. You and mom both. I don't care about you."

"Yeah, about that. There is no home anymore. So you can relax. Your mom and I aren't together anymore."

"You dumped her?" I say, "Sorry, divorced?"

"We're separated. Neither of us are willing to marry again, no point in divorce."

"Whatever. I don't care."


"I don't want to see her!" I yell, jerk off the chair and stand. "I don't care what she says. I don't care if she's dead!"


"Fuck off."


"I'm not your son."

"I see..."

"I'm not your son anymore. I don't need a father."

"And you think that, because...?"


"Mathur Narayan."

"I said, whatever!"

"You realise what kind of position you put me in, don't you? Do you know how much shame you brought on the family name?"

"Take that too. Disown me. It's been a long time coming."

"I wish it were that simple."

I pause. Was he serious? Would he just disown me? Just like that? I gulp. I'm not a crybaby, but sometimes these things can't be helped. I take deep breaths, try to find a window. Try to find a glass. Something. This is too hard. Too hard.

"I want to put you in school. The academy as it happens. They think they can mould you. Make you a soldier. Not my idea, but remember Ishaan dada? He suggested it. Age is not an issue. Some rules are meant to be bent."

I turn and look at him. My arms stings where they injected me. It was no dream. I stare in disbelief. And maybe a little mirth. "No, don't remember no Ishaan da."

"So you'll do it," he said, "You don't have to stay with me or your mom. You'll be your own man in four years. Join any area of the armed forces you like. I know you don't like me. I know you hate Roshini. But you can't tell me you never wanted to be a soldier..."

Well, duh.

"I don't want to be a soldier."

"Then what do you want to be?" A drug dealer? Gangster? Rapist?

I go back to sulking. " will I get in? I didn't go to school."

"You'll be tutored. We all know you're bright. No point hiding that either."

"I'm not hiding it. Just saying I can't do it. There's too much I missed and I'm not about to spend two years learning what I didn't want to learn in the first place. Make this four years into six."

Dad smiled. He knew I was bluffing. I wanted to smile too, but remembered I was sulking.

"Come on, buddy. Do it for me. I promise, you'll never have to see Roshini again."


"She doesn't want to see you if you don't want to see her. That was her position last I spoke to her. And that was three years ago! Not a peep from her about you."


"It's what you wanted, right?"

I relaxed a bit, though I was uncomfortable. "It's not like I hate her anything..." I stretched my legs. "It's just that I don't see any point in connecting with her. I don't love her or whatever. I don't see the whole point of moms."

"I see."

"Like yeah, she gave birth to me, whatever. But what else? Like what's the big deal? Half the global population does it. Why should I think she's special just 'coz she's my mom?"

"I don't know...I always thought my mom was special."

"Who, granny?" I scoffed, "Please! She's the worst ever."

Dad's face clouded for some reason. Like I wasn't supposed to say these  things. Everybody knew she's a bitch. Like, open your eyes man.

"You were very little when she died. You didn't know her," he replied.

"Just know I hated her."


His voice was so strong all of a sudden, I started. What?!

"So you'll do it? You'll go to the academy?"

"Which one?"


"That's in Pune."

"Yeah, so?"

"There's horse riding in Pune," I grinned.

"No, there isn't."

"Not in the academy. But there's this farm on the outskirts. I'll go if I could get private lessons. I want the best steed. I want it to myself. And I want it black."

"Hmm..." he pondered.

"I wanna learn horse riding!" I protested.

"You can learn it in your free time. But I don't think you'll have any son..."

"I don't care! Horse riding first. School later."

"You want me to buy you a horse?"

"I can buy it myself if you don't have the money. I mean, I'll loan it to you. I have loads of cash."

"Of course you do. If I agree to the horse riding thing, you'll have to apply yourself like you never did before. The exams are in March. That's three months from now."

"No problem."

"Ok then--"

"Oh and one more thing. The horse shouldn't have a name."

"If it's raised in a farm, I think it'll have a name. Do you want a pony? Do you wanna wait till it grows up?"

"Don't be funny. I want the horse now. If your buddies think I'm so good, I'm sure they'll find one. A wild one," I grinned.

"Oh, so you want to tame it too. Real heroic of you."

"Nothing I can't do if I want to."

"That's fine, Rishi. But this is not the nineteenth century. There aren't any wild horses anymore."
I shrugged. Not my problem.

Dad scratched his head. Like what did he think? I'll just fall on his feet and beg for forgiveness? Really, the man's crazy if he thinks I'm gonna make this easy on him.

"I can't promise you anything. But I'll give it a try."


"So what do you want to name it? The horse, I mean. Obviously, you want a wild one so you could choose the name."

"Yeah...I'm gonna name it Asoka. And call it Bucephalus."


Say hi to PMS, my kitty!