Sunday, January 20, 2008

A SHORT STORY

I am not a story teller. The art of story writing is a highly complicated one and is best left to accomplished masters of the craft, Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan, Guy De Maupassant and the likes.

Reservation(in the Indian context;I am not talking about Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav's tatkal quota here)will remain a contentious issue as long as democracy survives(the founding fathers of our constitution surely hadn't anticipated this)i.e in a country like ours, forever(unless one is overtly pessimistic).

The trick while debating is not zealously going on harping about your point of view but capitalizing on the mistake of your opponent(even Roger Fedrer has bad days in office,today for instance). You place yourself in your opponent's shoes, try debating against your own point of view(which many a time is decided by the toss of a coin) and hit the odd loose ball so hard that the other guy can only watch haplessly(unless he is an acrobat or plain lucky Janko Tipsarevic).

Anyway, enough of beating about the bush. The title doesn't permit me to go on yakking anymore. So let me dive headlong into my 'story'.

I was born(as if it isn't obvious; pretty unusual begining for a story but as i said I am no master craftsman).

He was born. We were seperated by a few months, I guess. We grew up together, learnt to speak together, learnt to tie our shoe laces and comb our hair together. His house was next to mine. We even prepared for our interview together. Yes, I vaguely remember. It was a big deal-the first interview of our lives. We were in dread of it. The creases on the foreheads of our parents were clearly visible. Mock interviews were the order of the day. We had to conduct ourselves with utmost grace and poise.Everything from that perefect gait to that million dollar smile was stressed upon. Finally the D-day arrived and we went in for our Nursery admission interview. Everything went on remarkably smoothly. The teachers were cheerful, kind, jolly, congenial, convivial and more. We were able to regurgitate whatever we had mugged up and we felt at ease since there were numerous kids of the same age with haggard faces.

The results were announced. We had made it to one of the most prestigious schools in the city. Everyone at home was euphoric. The electrifying atmosphere was somewhat similar to what Misbah-ul-Haq's scoop at Johannesburg had caused. We kids just wondered at the over- enthusiasm of the elders, smiling at each other with a twinkle in our eyes, somehow unconsciously aware that it was our doing that was the causa causans of this wild celebration.

Well, we started going to school dressed in neat blue check shirts and grey shorts. Now we had become 'best friends', caring for and sharing with each other. We ran around in this second home of ours during the recess from the see-saw to the merry-go-round, sometimes pushing and shoving but always lending a hand everytime the other fell down.

Soon, football became a passion(as is the case with most guys) and we started kicking regularly, whether in school or in the nearby park in the evenings(dunno, when did Airtel people shoot us; I am contemplating suing them, they should have asked for permission; not that I would have refused).

I often thought, "I LOVE HIM"

Time flew like anything. Soon, those carefree days were over. We had stepped into teenage-the age of rebellion. We were still together(though the moron preferred Angelina to Scarlett) playing Counterstrike, bunking classes and yes, eyeing girls. We were inseperable. Our fondness for each other never ceased to grow. We formed a mutual admiration society.

I still thought,"I LOVE HIM"

(for the 'intellectuals', who tend to 'think', let me clarify that I had no homosexual leanings;didn't I just say something about girls.It is pure, unbound friendship that I am talking about.)

Now was the time to choose our career path and as destiny would have it, we chose the same option. There was immense pressure, immense workload. Everything from school to coaching to extracurriculars had to be managed. The advisory board comprising parents, teachers, friends, relatives et al was ever vigilant, never bereft of ideas, keeping me on my toes. Inspite of the time constraint, we were still together.

Parents: Study,son. If you work hard at this point of time, you will reap benifits till ripe, old age.(yeah,ryt, I need to care about my grand children too).

Relatives: You need to slog. God helps them who helps themselves. (then why do we need a God at all?)

Teachers: Be focussed. We have been teaching kids(who??)like you from the time you were not even born. Hard work maketh a man.(duh!)

Friends: You gotta work. Nyway, chillax(thnx man,same to you)


Life wasn't easy but this phase had its own pleasure. I was supposed to look up to every engineer cousin, every doctor uncle, every lawyer aunt- in a nutshell, everyone who had been able to eke out a decent living.

I was working hard. All those sermons and lectures had had the desired effect. Some of the message had sunk in and I decided to pass it on to the guy with whom I had shared 17 marvellous years of my life.

But he wouldn't budge."Take it easy, man. Life is a bed of roses."- this attitude of his stunned me. I tried arguing, pleading, threatening, everything that was in my arsenal(I was a true friend, apparently) but all in vain. At last I locked my eyes into his and pulled out my trump card- my father's dialogue that always reverbrated in my head- "Man, there are only 57(just a random number) seats all over India and you know what India's population is?"; letting the words hang in air to bring out the almost magical effect.

His eyes met my steely gaze and just when I was getting ready to bask in the glory of my triumph of talking sense in to my friend, his sarcastic smile left me flabbergasted.

Life dragged on, I slogged on, I dreamt on, but he didn't care to bother. I shrugged.

The D-day arrived. Brimming with confidence but at the same time shivering with nervousness, I took my entrance.

Another test, another result. What had transpired 14 years ago, flashed past my eyes. The joy, the elation, the overwhwlming emotions and the thing which mattered most- that feeling of togetherness.

Everyday is not Sunday. It was a huge disappointment. The eternal bond had been broken. We would not be together anymore. In different cities, away from each other, we would survive. BUT there was a difference- a HUGE difference. The feeling had changed. My mouth now spewed venom and my breath whispered curses.

I HATE HIM

He had got in. It was a heavy blow not because I grudged him his achievement but because the crutch he had, had caught me in the groin. I was bleeding, I was dying. All the hard work had come to nought.

Why was God so cruel? Why hadn't he let me take birth in a particular caste? What should I do now? Agitate or sit on a fast unto death to get SC or ST status for my caste?

No, I won't. I won't resort to rioting, I won't indulge in violence. I will do what millions in this country do. Slog again, again & again, again & again & again, to be denied my fair share, yet again.

3 comments:

ronnie said...

Awesome buddy....
You nail the hammer right on!!!!

Something in similar lines you can identify with!!!!

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The Lizard King II said...

Brilliant man...ask me..I would've topped my category in NUJS and NLS had I been scheduled...

Protiti said...

i thought i had already commented on this...but turns out i hadnt... so neway, here goes :
this is the MOST AMAZING piece u probly hav ever written.. it moved me to tears..