The Scribbler

The Scribbler

Friday, July 22, 2011

Maternal Scribbler

Reading Time: 16 minutes

Reading time for Dummies: 23 minutes

‘Who broke the vase?’, exclaimed Mom.

I stood there and gave her a blank stare. (Well, you don’t have that many options when you’re five years old.)

‘Your Grandma gave me that vase. Who broke it?’, she asked, this time firmly.

‘I didn’t do it Ma! Halley’s Comet whooshed in through the window and smashed it!’

‘Mmhmm! And how did it hit the vase when you were sitting right next to it?’. The woman meant business.

‘I don’t know!’, I whispered dramatically. ‘It’s a mystery!’ And I saw her anger fade away with a smile.

Mom came from a time when milk came from cows instead of plastic bags. She’d tell me stories about the coffee estate she grew up in, the lone, nice cottage Grandpa had got from the estate; the huge garden where Grandma grew vegetables and the li’l cow-pen at the backyard where she saw a cow givin’ birth to a calf for the first time. Of course, stray snakes were always an added attraction. My life would seem uneventful when I listened to her childhood stories. The only problem was she’d remember I hadn’t done my homework. And I simply refused to do something I did not believe in. I was better off watching ‘He-Man & the Masters of the Universe’ instead of answering questions on ‘Fred, the lazy frog’ & ‘Rip Van Vinkle’! (Who wouldn’t go to the hills and sleep for twenty years if their parents named them Rip Van Vinkle?) How else was I supposed to learn of the triumph of good over evil? Or the importance of showing humility towards your friends even if you’re a prince? Or the complete awesomeness of having a green sabre-tooth tiger as a pet? Mom never understood my concerns about the education pattern of the country; or having a tiger as a pet.

People are amazed at the way kids grow up real fast. Much to the dismay of my people, I grew real fast too. Horizontally. Mom would joke about how I’d get stuck at the doorway if I kept at my gastronomic skills. Dad said pretty much the same thing, but without the humour.

There was a kid from school who stayed nearby; wore thick-rimmed soda-pop glasses. On our way home from school, he and I used to eat pastries at a shop. Then I used to eat some more while he waited. And I always took a couple o’ puffs as a take-away just in case, you know, I get hungry on the way. ‘Glasses’ was very quiet that day.

‘My Daddy’s gonna kill me., he said.

‘Wha..? Whhuy?’, I asked, munching away on pineapple pastry.

He took out his report-card and flipped it open in front o’ me like an N.Y.P.D. cop in the movies.

‘Mathematics eighty-two, Social Studies eighty-seven, General Science ninety-two, Language I eighty-nine, Language II ninety-four, English seventy-nine.’, I read out aloud and looked at him with a question mark on my face.

‘I got eighty-two in Math.’

‘So?’, I asked finishing up the pastry.

‘You kiddin’ me? What am I gonna say when Dad asks how I messed up for eighteen marks!?’, Glasses asked me with such intensity, it actually got me thinking. Eighty two plus eighteen IS hundred! The kid was really good at math!

I opened up my report-card.

‘Look! I scored eighty-seven in English.’, I said proudly. Glasses looked into my card and looked up in horror. I immediately noticed that the focal length between his bifocal glass lenses and the iris of his eyes was decreasing as the curvature of his cornea was exposed rapidly, widening the radii of his pupils thereby revealing the anterior chamber of the retina!

(Yes, I thought his eyes were goin’ to pop out.)

I had a red line underneath everything except ‘English’ in my card: The reason for Glasses’ Emily Rose experience.

‘You okay?’, I shook him.

‘Huh, yeah.’, he said as he came back to his senses. ‘I just had the worst vision of my name on your report-card.’

‘Oh. And how was the view?’, I asked.

‘Couldn’t tell. I was busy lying down with my eyes closed in a coffin.’, he said and checked his report once again to make sure he was paranoid.

‘Aren’t you scared of what your Dad’s gonna say?’, Glasses inquired.

I stared at Glasses and I remembered what happened the last time I took the progress-report to Dad. And then I remembered the time before that. Then something worse happened. It was a chain reaction. I started remembering all the times I stood before Dad with a progress report.

‘THIS is just the report! Where is the PROGRESS?’, he’d yell and be upset for a whole month. There’d be tensions in the air when Dad was home. Food was ignored, the television was used to break the awkward silences and oh there was always the silent treatment combined with the raised single-eyebrow technique. (See, the silent treatment is always the worst because the person giving you the treatment doesn’t need to utter a word to make you feel horrible. You assumed the worst and felt horrible yourself. The raised single-eyebrow technique was designed to make sure you did.) Now, to make matters worse, the school would organise a parents-teachers meet where answer-sheets were available for public scrutiny. Our school called it the ‘Parents-to-School Day’ like it was meant to be a funny theme for a costume party; only that, it wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t a party. Although, come to think of it, all the teachers and most of the parents did wear costumes. The parents in the costumes were the ones who were there either to show the other parents how well their kids had performed, or negotiate with the teachers for more marks and then show the other parents how well their kids had performed.

The last time Dad had paid a visit to one such meet was when I was in third grade. He felt it was an utter waste of time. He did not need the teachers to tell him that his son doesn’t study or do home-work! He knew that himself. Ever since, it was Mom who accompanied me, listen to all the complaints the costumed scholars had about me, gave me stern looks when the complaints turned outrageous, gave sterner looks when the other parents around muffled their laughter at me and finally wait outside the Principal’s office with me. Every time, I promised to work hard the next time; and every time I found myself standing outside the big man’s office. This time, I wasn’t goin’ to be let off easy.

Glasses could see that the truth was dawning upon me. (I was a late-dawner.)

‘What’re you gonna do now?’, he asked me as if I had testicular cancer.

It got me thinking. (Initially, it was tough, but I had learnt to do that.) I thought about Mom & Dad and how disappointed they would be to see another history repeating itself; another month of misery, another month of awkward silences and tense auras, another humiliating meet with the teachers. And then, as Spectacles watched, I did something that I had never before done in my life:

I ate the two puffs in the take-away pack standing there!

On my way home that day I tore up the report-card and threw it in the gutters. They cannot make me upset my folks! I was doin’ that already.

The following couple o’ weeks were blissful. I went about doing the usual things I do at home which normally involved Dad’s disapproval. In school, whenever the class teacher asked me for my report card, all I had to do was to tell her I’d get it the next day. Less than a week later, a kid who’d tried to fake sign the report himself had got caught in the act. Amidst all the commotion, I was forgotten. Luck, couldn’t have gotten any better. Once, during dinner, Dad had remembered that there had been an exam a while ago and it was about time the report-card had arrived. I stuffed my mouth more than usual and mumbled something indiscreet. That had done the trick and Dad never asked about it again. I felt invincible! Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?

I came home and parked my bicycle one fine evening and burst into the house. I was just about to go inside and ask Mom if I could have some ice-cream when Dad intercepted me at the living-room.

‘Open that drawer.’, he pointed towards it. I did and found a hand-crafted Teachers’ Day greeting. You know, the ones those servile, soda-pop-specs wearing, teacher’s pets make with chart-paper, sparkly pens and over-emotional poems in them.

I started laughing at it as soon as I opened it and, for a change, was glad that at least Dad & I shared the same sense of humour. But wait. Where did he get it? Who cares! As long as it’s funny.

‘Look at the back’, Dad ordered.

I stopped my laugh midway. My eyes widened; face straightened. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t read what was written but I knew what it was. I tried to focus but everything went blurred. Seconds went by like hours; minutes, days. Inscribed in neat hand-writing were the names of the subjects and my corresponding marks; with the traditional red underlining for effect. At the bottom was a footnote which read: ‘Parents-to-School Day on Saturday this week.’

I had a thousand questions in mind. Where did Dad get this from? Who was the kid who made this card? WHERE was the kid who made this card? Who, in their right mind, would write something that belonged in an obituary column on a stupid greeting card!? Am I gonna die?

I looked up to find Mom & Dad looking at me and I instantly knew all those questions didn’t matter. Their faces were red, not with rage, but with disappointment. Their only son was a liar now. They walked away quietly and I knew then; they had said everything.

Dad wouldn’t go. He was a proud father who felt helpless; who refused to believe but was being forced to admit that his son cannot make it. So the Parents-Teachers meet saw mom with her usual poise and dignity. The teachers could rant all they want, the others could smile and giggle all they want, but she knew her son was more than that. And they were not taking that away from her. Looking back now she was better than all of them put together, for she would never laugh at someone’s misery, nor would she add to it. I was asked to wait outside the Principal’s office yet again. Although I knew there was nobody with the big man inside, I always felt they made you wait because the anticipation added to your tension. I hadn’t looked Ma in the eye or spoken to her in days. I looked at her now. The woman never ceased to surprise me. Just when I thought she wouldn’t be able to take anymore, the woman came back stronger than ever before. And at that moment I knew, everything was going to be alright. She would put back the bits and pieces of me, just as she had of the vase.

So how does a boy touted as hopeless become the only source of hope for two of the nicest people in the world? How does, of all the possibilities in the universe, life exist only on Earth? How do birds know which way to fly when they migrate? How come ants never fall asleep? How does the flutter of a butterfly’s wing cause a hurricane? How does a father faced with constant disappointments still find reasons to be proud of his son? How does a mother muster all that impossible strength when it comes to her child? And how does everything become so perfect when mom’s around?

I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Smitten Scribbler

It happened. I knew it had to sometime. Although I acted like I’m immune to it.

Every time I threw pebbles at ‘em and got stared at by their mothers in return, and every time I’d wished their fathers had done the same thing too, deep down, I’d always feared it.

I was always the bright li’l kid; the intellectually gifted one. Like this one time when the society had arranged a magic show for the annual event. I’d been away for a week to Granny’s and was returning home that day. Dad had a grin on his face when I came back. (I later on learned that he’d had that grin the whole week.)

‘Come on son. I’ll take you to a magic show tonight!’

‘A magic show?! Wohow! Will there be huge ice-cream tubs and chocolate waterfalls and genies?’

‘Uh... No son. They’re only in the movies.’

‘But they’re genies! They can come outta the movies whenever they want to!’

‘No. They can do that only when the director says so.’

‘Screw him! Who’s he?’ I said with a long face.

‘Where do you learn to say all that?! Is that how I’ve raised you? When I was your age, I used to pee in my pants when my father walked by…’

Now I don’t know whether it was me, or all the nostalgia, but the grin was no longer on Dad’s face.

Dad was back to normal again!

Later that evening, as I tugged at Dad’s shirt for the umpteenth time to ask him when the show was gonna start, I realised from my prodigal ability to process multiple signals of body language that if I pulled at his shirt one more time, the man was gonna rip it all off and sport an Einstein hair-do.
And as it finally began, I huffed, I puffed and made faces at a man on stage who was dressed for Halloween, trying to pull out flowers and handkerchiefs from his sleeves. Bah!

And then, he did it! The unthinkable! The unquestionable! The indubitable! I watched in awe as he pulled out three rabbits in a row out of a hat and turned it over to show it was empty! I instantly turned to look at Dad. Dad’s smile faded as he saw the big question mark on my face.


‘What?’, he grunted.

‘When magicians pull out rabbits from their hat, where does all the poop go?’

With that scientifically unanswered question, ended the first and the last magic show my Dad took me to.

I was twenty years old when I first met her. No, it wasn’t at college. Or at a wedding! Or a club! (Bah! As though I could afford to go to a club anyway!)

Mom had gotten promoted and was transferred to another city so I was forced to come to terms with Dad. Since part of my daily routine was to bunk college, I was to do the cooking on weekdays. And since weekends were the only days Dad got time to relax, I was supposed to the cooking on weekends. Now I shouldn’t sound like I’m complaining here, so I must tell you that Dad boiled the milk.

So as I woke up one fine morning to see my father packin’ his mid-day meal for work and givin’ me the silent treatment, I had a debate with myself that the possible cause of this awkward bliss might be the Algebraic expressions operating amongst Coulomb’s law and the third law of Thermodynamics, in turn affecting Newton’s laws of motion causing a subsequent change in the Doppler’s effect!

The odds against my scientifically established theory were that the man had heard me sneak into the house late last night.

He made sure that I learnt one more way of ‘how-not-to-devise-a-theory’ that day. I had been ordered to pay the electricity bill as it was the last date for payment. I had blown away all the money on ‘don’t ask what’ and as I had finally found a friend who had agreed to lend me money (Yes, that’s what I call people who lend me money), my motorcycle coughed outta gas. As a guy with the golden luck would have it, it started to pour down like the Niagara had Viagra (I promise I won’t try to write poems), and half an hour of protesting against the showers, I was at the petrol-station.

I was almost run over by a smart-derrière auto-rickshaw when I first saw her. She wasn’t like the other delicate darlings I saw there. She was like… Maggi Tomato Ketchup; you know, it’s different!

I conducted a symphony of my own. There were bells ringin’ in my head! And violas and trumpets and saxophones and… and car-horns?! Whaddaya know! The people behind me were playin’ along too! I wonder why they had that pissed look on their face though.

That’s when it happened. She looked at me, and then she smiled!

It was magical.

I was smooth as satin, cool as a refrigerator, suave as an eagle! In fact, I was the James Bond of suaveness! (Yes, I stood there and scratched my head.)

‘Pump it or move it.’ (This was the petrol guy.)

‘Wha..?’, I scratched my head again.

‘I said, pump it or move it!’

Never had I thought I’d hear such words of wisdom from the gas-guy. I muttered a thanks, set my bike aside, and walked towards her.

Did you ever have that sinking feeling in your stomach? (No, not the kind when you eat a stolen lunch-box sittin’ in the front row of physics class. It’s the kind o’ feelin’ when you’re about to make a pathetic speech at the morning assembly and you don’t even remember it. And standing there you’re wonderin’ which is worse: recallin’ that pathetic speech and gettin’ screwed by the other kids in return? Or gettin’ screwed by the other kids for gapin’ at the mic like it was gonna start talkin’ all by itself?)

Well I pretty much had the same feeling, except my stomach felt like Pearl Harbour. And by the time I realised this, I was already standing in front o’ her. I didn’t even have a freakin’ speech to recall!

So I just said hi. She gave me a blank look. (Normally when you’re a stranger and you say hi to an Indian girl, she either burns you down with her stare and make you wish you never walked up to her in the first place, or, give you a ‘WTF-why-are-you-even-talking-to-me-you-pathetic-lonely-creepy-stalker’ look. That applies even if you don’t fall under the ‘pathetic, lonely, creepy, stalker’ category. That’s just the way Indian women are built. You could just be saying hi to the girl you know, standing behind our women and you’ll still get one o’ the above. In my case, I get stares even from the woman standing behind.)

‘What’s your name?’ I asked. (What’s your NAME? Smooth move, Casanova. Why don’t you ask her which grade she’s in while you’re at it?)

‘Cinderella.’, she said without even lookin’ at me now. (See this is another thing Indian women do. They give you all the right signals, but they blow you off when you approach and brag about the same to their friends. They’re satisfied just by knowing the fact that they attract men! No wonder God made Indian men sizably-challenged in the condoms department; their women’re satisfied before they even buy it!)

Clearly she wasn’t interested anymore than that so I started to turn away.

‘What about you?’, she popped a question from behind.

‘What about me?’, I grumped.

‘What’s your name, silly?’

‘Rumpelstiltskin.’, I said.

‘Good to meet you Rump.’, she smiled. ‘And now that the small talk is over and that I’m about to leave, what’re you gonna do?’

Good question. What was I gonna do?

‘Uhh... look for your glass shoe?’ (Way to go Prince Charming The XIII! And then what? Spin it into gold?)

‘Well, good luck with that.’, and she turned to walk away.

I watched her glide towards her scooter. Damn, she had that poised walk! Too bad my magic show had to end before it even began.

She got on her scooter, and drove... only to stop right in front o’ me!

‘Put out your hand.’, she ordered.

‘What? Why?’

‘Come on! You ask too many questions!’, and she reached for my hand, pulled out my wrist and wrote something.

‘There. Call me when you’ve found my glass slipper.’ She’d written her number down! I felt like the manliest guy on the planet! (Before you think I’m over-reacting, here’s the thing about Indian women and their cell-phones. They’re more secure than Guantanamo Bay. Only they can decide who goes in and out of their cell-phone. See, asking an Indian girl for her number is like askin’ a girl to move in with you on your first date: a) you’ll freak her out, and b) you’re never gonna see her again. I must mention here that asking a girl to move in with you on your first date gets you a free membership to the ‘Pathetic, lonely, creepy, stalker’ club. Now, if our girls don’t wanna talk to you, they’ll accidentally delete your number. Yes, they’ll accidentally hit the ‘Contacts’ menu, accidentally select your name, accidentally hit the ‘delete’ button and accidentally hit ‘yes’ when the phone prompts to delete it or not. Oh and they don’t answer calls from unknown numbers so don’t get all dramatic if they don’t pick up your calls.)

‘Say hi to your cruel stepmother for me!’, I yelled as she drove off.

I called her the next day.

‘Found it already?’, were her first words.

‘What? No ‘hello’?’, I asked. ‘How’d you know it was me?’

‘Who else could it be at 8 in the morning?’

‘Oh. What time do you get up?’

‘As of today. 8!’

When I got off the phone, it was 11; which was a bit out of the ordinary, because my calls never exceed 19 seconds. 31 seconds at the max if it was anything serious. I had no idea what I had spoken to her all this while, but it felt great! The time I spent on the phone gradually increased until it became a routine. We were cuttin’ down on our sleep to stay on the phone. She said things I’d never heard before and she made me say things I never thought I could say before. As for Dad, he was always smellin’ somethin’ around me, ‘cause I sounded happy all the time. Mom must’ve suggested that I could be under the influence of the holy ‘spirit’.

On her birthday, I bought a Cinderella Barbie, and gifted her the glass shoes she’d been nagging about ever since we’d met. (Just the shoes guys, not the doll. Stop lookin’ at me like that.) She felt the shoes were a couple o’ sizes too huge but she said she could manage with whatever little I could provide. Life was a hell of a ride when I was with her.

She’d make a big hue & cry and all along she’d make me sigh. She laughed & hugged and got me high. She’d wake me up to say goodnight and end up tellin’ me to get out of her sight. I’d make her wait an hour ahead, just to see her nose get red. She could kill me without a knife and always bring me back to life. She’d get stoned on a bottle of beer and she won’t even let me near. She’d bite me, she’d fight me and challenged that she’d right me. She talked me out of me sometimes and slammed the door on me sometimes. She found herself lost in me sometimes and kicked the shit out of me sometimes. She’d mother me sometimes, brother me sometimes, and when she was done she’d colour me sometimes. She was fun, she was a pain, and I loved it when she ran her fingers through my mane. She talked and never stopped; she got me into trouble and stood & watched. She said a thousand words with her eyes. She struck, she amazed, she knit, she gazed, she smiled, she cried, she winked and she lied, she pinched, she gnawed, she sneaked, she cooked, she hugged, she missed and of course she kissed, she leapt, she slept, she wept... and then she left.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Crickety Scribbler

Reading Time: 8:02 minutes

Vacations: The interval of time when my folks didn’t expect interesting news involving me from school.

Cricket ate up most o’ my vacations. I wouldn’t say that I was the undisputed champion o’ the streets, mostly because I held the bat like a caveman. And the ball would soar real high if I hit it..... IF I hit it!

I heard the kid next door shoutin’ my name that morning.

‘What?’, I yelled.

‘You comin’ to play?’

‘I’m eating!’

‘Come on! Everyone’s here.’

‘Alright! Hold on I’m comin’’

‘Hey! What’re you eating?’

‘I just licked the plate. Forget it!’

The skinny kid was bendin’ down when I got out. (Don’t get any ideas now. That’s how we chose the sequence of who gets to bat and when. We held out fingers as the kid called out names.) As usual I was the last one to bat. Now, the one who gets to bat last, gets to bowl first. Somehow they always forgot to stress on that when I was around.

So off I went to field, right next to the kid who stood behind the wickets, ‘cause it was the best spot! The ball never came near me. And I didn’t break any flower-pots either! (Later on I found out that the former was the only reason I was made to stand there. I knew those kids didn’t care about the darn flower-pots!)

So there I was, standin’ peacefully next to the kid behind the stumps, when a big, red flower plopped on my head out of nowhere. I’d just picked it up, looked above and started examining it when I heard all o’ them cryin’ my name out aloud. Turn around, and I find that droopy-eyed, tall bowler burnin’ me with his stare. So was the short, skinny brat standin’ next to me! Didn’t take long for me to notice everyone was sharin’ the same thoughts as the bowler. Everyone, except the kid with the bat.

‘Oh he must be the nicest kid around.’, I thought.

He was grinnin’ at me like anything. (Apparently, Sachin Tendulkar over here had missed the ball which had rolled past me towards the boundary, while I was figuring out the initial position of the big, red flower by calculating the momentum and taking into account the kinetic energy, which was transferred to my medulla oblongata.)

I smiled back.

Funny...this increased the total amount of staring, a few more notches.

‘WHAT??!!’, I asked the skinny li’l brat. (Well, I would’ve asked the bowler if I was in the mood to turn into a toast...with the edges ripped off!) He turned away and mumbled something. Droopy over there decided to answer for him.

‘You let the ball go, you idiot!! You just cost me four runs!’

(Four runs! That’s what they’ve been givin’ me this VIP treatment for? Four measly runs!! This isn’t the world cup, Brian Lara!! Hey wait a minute. Did he just call me an idiot?! Why that...beslubbering, onion-eyed, tickle-brained, flap-mouthed loggerhead!!)

Lucky for him, he didn’t wait for an answer! I would’ve shown him who the boss was! Hah! (Him. Hands down.)

(Okay. So let’s move on to the next ball. Here comes droopy-eyes keeping his pace constant, steps on the line and lo! delivers with a full swing o’ the arm. The batsman keeps steady, narrows his eyes to focus on the ball, steps forward, pulls the bat towards him and catapults it straight at the ball! But wait. What’s this? The ball skips off the tip o’ the bat and goes roarin’ up towards the fat kid standin’ next to the big, red flower. The keeper shouts his name. Droopy yells with his hands on his head. A shriek of disappointment later.... He CATHES the ball! Atta boy!)

Wow! So I COULD catch the ball! Liars!

It was skinny’s turn now. In came he. I was made the wicket-keeper. Not bad! Getting promotions and all.

(In comes droopy again, with his pant-like-a-dog-and-grunt-like-a-pig-with-a-grudge delivery strategy. Skinny swings the bat which appears to be longer than him and leaps forward! I’d bet the bat could outweigh two o’ him put together. Wait a minute! The ball tips beneath the bat and goes straight to the wicket-keeper! Oh he fumbles with the ball...the ball hits the wickets and he’s OUT! What a terrific performance today Ritchie B! Wonder what he ate.)

The kids had new found respect for me. Not bad! This was gettin’ to be my lucky day! (Actually, the ball bounced off my knee and hit the wickets while the idiot was tryin’ to make a run. But they don’t have to know that!)

‘Hey! Why don’t you give bowling a try?’

‘Me? Sure!’

This was the kid with the new found airs. The kid who couldn’t keep his trap shut even if a million mosquitoes threatened to enter if he didn’t. The kid who had to screw himself with every possible nut in the world. This was the kid who chose to bowl for Droopy! This...was me.

Let me tell you somethin’ about him. Droopy is the kinda guy who could smash windows at the 12th floor of an apartment. Now, imagine that kinda smashin’ goin’ on in your tummy. That’s what happened to Tubby when he got mad. No one saw the ball. All we saw was Tubby holdin’ his stomach and groanin’ like a pig havin’ diarrhoea before he passed out.

I could remember everything like it happened just yesterday. Damn it! I’m never eating Chyavanprash again!

I shut my eyes tight and threw the ball. The guys started yellin’. That’s it. I was done. That was the closest I could get to bein’ heroic. I could see all grinny faces when I opened up. I had become the laughin’ stock... once more. Wait a second! The wickets were lyin’ strewn. Could it be...?

Well, what do you know! I bowled him out! First time in the history of cricket, Droopy, was duck out! Hah! Loser!

‘Good goin’ man!’, cried Tubby. I could see it in his eyes. I was his hero.

‘Heh, no sweat.’, said I, just when Droopy passed by me.

Could the timing BE any better?

‘You just got lucky today you brat.’, he said, as he thrust the bat at me.

No points for guessin’ who Mr. Sunny Deol was here. But you gotta listen to the macho response I gave him. I’d bet he would’ve peed in his pants had I said it any louder:


So after losin’ the last ounce of self-respect I had, (an ounce was all there was, actually) I stood at the crease like a chipmunk waitin’ to get trampled by a dinosaur.

Time to face the music.

I never really liked the music they played at funerals. But it’s not like I have a choice here or something.

First ball. Four runs! Whoa! Maybe I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was! I just needed one more run to win. Tubby was getting overwhelmed. I looked at him and said,

‘Piece o’ cake.’

Droopy stole a look at me and spit on the ball. Uh oh! That could only mean one thing... World War III! Okay, big-mouth. You just bought yourself a hole in your paunch. Kids’re gonna name you Idlee Nagasaki henceforth.

I tightened my grip on the bat.(Well, that was the only thing I could hold on to at the moment.) It’s now or never. It was either the ball or me. Only one of us could get hit. So I leaned backward, heaved the bat with all my might and in one powerful swing...THWACK!

Commotion began. I couldn’t pull my bat back. It felt stuck. I couldn’t spot the ball either. Must’ve gone real far. Funny. Tubby was doin’ his groaning-like-a-pig-having-diarrhoea thing again.

(See this was the real deal: My mighty powerful swing, ended up in Tubby’s mouth. (I thought I had a big mouth.) His teeth all shaken up.)

I didn’t understand. Why did he catch the bat? That too with his mouth? Doesn’t he know the rules? And why the hell did he have ketchup on his face?

Everyone watched Tubby in ‘aah’. His Mom came rushing down. They took him in a car somewhere. I couldn’t find out where because I was busy being surrounded by towering neighbours who had appeared out of nowhere. These people would make sure the other kids read about me in history books when Mom & Dad got back from work. I had had it.

Next day saw Tubby with a swollen mouth. (Of course, you had to watch closely to tell the difference.) He was munching away on an ice-cream when he came across.

‘Want some?’, he asked.


Noticed the intensity? Apparently, ice-creams were the only thing he was allowed to eat for the next couple o’ days. Goin’ by his shape, I’m sure the ice-creams made up for everything he went through. And goin’ by my shape, I was just glad someone actually offered me an ice-cream.

I don’t remember apologizing to him. And I’m sure he didn’t expect any. We went on to become the best of friends. Always grinning at the sight of ice-creams, always pushin’ each other off the slides, always gettin’ yelled at by our folks, always sucking at playin’ cricket, always wonderin’ why girls are so stupid, always arguing over Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, always bunking the Sanskrit class, stealing one-rupee coins to buy pepsi-colas, fighting over WWF wrestling, tearing up our report cards, going underground during the Parents-Teachers meet, freaking out the watch-man when he was asleep, throwing pebbles at the girls when they played, getting stared at by their mothers in return, always swearing to become like Batman when we grew up, (Actually the idiot wanted to become Superman, but I put some sense into him.) pulling the air out of bicycle tyres, befriending the Kulfiwala’s son so that he’d get us free Kulfis, getting chased by the one darn mad dog in the streets...

The point is, we didn’t have any boundaries, (Except that we were threatened in crystal words not to go beyond the third street or we would have our legs chopped off.) we never bothered about our ego. Well back then, we didn’t Have an ego. But now... here I go, treating the people I care the most as bad as I can, and giving the best o’ my smiles to the people whom I don’t give a damn.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Scooter Scribbler

School time. The old scooter coughed again. Seemed like a lifetime before it started. I was sick & tired of tellin’ him to buy a new bike instead o’ this wretched ol’ scooter. That way I don’t get to feel embarrassed when I see my friends in cars. Not that they sported around in BMWs and Rolls’, but hey, a bike’s a bike. Where does a scooter even stand a pig’s hair in front of a roarin’ monster that comes with a ‘Definitely male’ tagline?


He looked up.

‘What happened to the new bike we were gonna get?’

‘Oh that!... Let’s see’, he glanced back into the TV.

‘Yeah rite... All you see’re those crappy singin’ competitions on TV’, I mumbled without him surprisingly not noticin’ it.

‘For God’s sake sell the damn thing Dad... It’s been 15 years since you’ve been pushin’ that thing around’

He suddenly seemed to ponder a few seconds. Somethin’ that totally took me aback. ( know… I’m not used to people thinkin’ over stuff I say. Odd faces and Yeah-rite-and-I’m-the-Duke-of-Wellington looks are what I get usually.)

‘Yeah you’re rite...Think its ‘bout time we got a new one’.

Wait a minute. Did he just agree with me? Agree as in OK?? Wow! The last time that happened I was in my diapers apparently signallin’ him that I had…uhh…successfully accomplished Operation Nature’s Call and wanted my diaper off. He agreed!!!...The huge ant-bite on my butt that evenin’ was a totally different story.

The next day more than half the school knew I was gonna buy a new bike. And more than half the school gave me more than half a school o’ suggestions.

On television, crappy singin’ competitions were ignored and commercials were given a priority. Newspapers were under forensic examination for ads and our mechanic became our dearest friend. Even those nosy neighbours played their parts. Always screwin’ up the bike I chose.

But before getting’ our hands on the new member of the family, we chose to dispose the old-timer. Mom didn’t know anythin’ ‘bout bikes but she was all the more excited about the gettin’ rid of the old-timer part. A nation-wide search for the apt scape-goat was launched. Neighbours, my folks’ colleagues, some o’ my worthless friends, everyone were told to keep an eye out for...uhh…vintage scooter collectors.

And after what seemed like a never endin’ fortnight, we managed to find one. Courtesy: Our new friend Mr. Mechanic. The guy offered a whopping six grand. Dad had related the tale of his prized possession countless times all my life. I chuckled as his words echoed,

‘You see the big fan here right above the engine? Well there’s a 150cc beneath it. It was a prestigious issue to own one o’ these those days you know? Was imported directly from London. You had to wait for more than three whole months after you’ve booked it. Not everyone was lucky enough to get their hands on this beauty you know? See the colour?? Ever seen any other scooter on the road o’ this same colour? When was the......’

Every time I was listenin’ to this speech of his…I found myself scrubbin’ the scooter. Gettin’ a new bike wasn’t gonna change all the scrubbin’ part, but if you’re asked to choose between watchin’ Dame Judi Dench strippin’ or Scarlett Johansson… get the point!

The guy was supposed to visit the antique the next week. The rage o’ the road arrived home before then. I was rubbin’ my hands like a greedy villain with an evil grin who eyed the damsel in a bollywood movie. Dad cut it short by directin’ me to get some lemons in my bicycle. Bah!! He’d make the worst director if you ask me. (Oh and if you’re the same alien whom I mentioned in my first blog, then I’ve ta tell you that the lemons are for makin’ a new vehicle auspicious. You place one beneath each tyre and crush them in the first go and whoosh!!...your vehicle’s all auspicious. Yeah right! Try tellin’ that to the lemons.)

You know what they say...’An optimist is never deterred’. (Actually no one said that, but, it adds to the effect you know. By the way, if that line clicks, I’d like to have a copyright on that.) Ok I have to admit I was pissed off when he sent me to buy those stupid lemons, but, when I came ta think, (Yes, I do that sometimes too...Ha ha...Very funny you guys...), I came across the fact that I can’t be stopped by lemons! Those teeny, weeny yellow balls!! That’s ridiculous!! I’ve got more balls than a lemon!!

The grocery shop was at the street across. I geared up and sped as fast as I can. (In case you’re wonderin’, my bicycle had gears too. Eighteen of ‘em!!....I still had to pedal my ass off though.) When I raced back to the parkin’ lot with two o’ the plumpest lemons a pumpkin would’ve ever seen, I stopped by a crowd. A very nosy, noisy crowd. Neighbours!

I got closer to the source o’ the noise only to see Mr. Memon gettin’ on my ride. What nerve!! Hey wait a minute! What were those? Two lemons were lyin’ massacred on the floor! Courtesy: Dad. Apparently, he’d found some rotten lemons in the fridge while I was cyclin’ my ass off through the street. And now Mr. Memon was gonna test-ride it. Wow. How exciting. (RATS!!)

I stood there watchin’ while he sped off. I was in love with this bike. So now his daughter’s history. The engine was like a piano! Never heard more appealin’ music churn out from anythin’. And if Bach was there, I’m sure he’ll agree too.

Time stopped still as I felt the echo in my ears. No wait! It was that Memon guy comin’ back...with MY ride.

He came. He spoke. He never got up.

I can’t remember one dirty word that I didn’t associate him with. Unless of course, I heard this come outta his mouth.

‘Your motor-cycle has gotta lot of power sir. It can be fatal in the hands of teenagers.’

Have you ever wondered how it would be if you ended up in a lone island where there’s all the mouth-waterin’ food and the classiest of booze you ever wanted and loaded with the most beautiful chicks in the world, clad in designer bikinis? Well, stop wonderin’!! My heart’s bein’ ripped out in cold blood here!!

This was when I couldn’t help but think of ways to bash him up. I could wear a monkey-cap and sneak up at dark and bash him up. Yeah! I was gonna pound him left & right. Make him wish he was dead meat. So what if he was a trainer at his own gym huh?? I was the biggest guy in class! (Well horizontally....but...that’s not the point!!!)

Normally, I would’ve done what I was thinkin’, if it weren’t for somethin’ that sounded like,

‘You’re right Memon; maybe we’ll wait till he grows up a bit more and then give him the ride.’

Crap!! If it weren’t the lemons, it had to be the Memons!! Who knows what “grows up a bit” means? I could grow up to be someone who doesn’t even fit through his door for Pete’s sake!! Yeah!! Maybe then I could beat up Memon. Wouldn’t be much difficult too!! All I had to do was push him down and sit on him and the bastard’ll squish to death.

So the verdict was final. I can’t ride the bike. I can soak it, soap it, wipe it, wax it, dry it, clean it, but I can’t ride it!!

A guy came the next day. Was dressed pretty neat in shabby clothes. His hands were tight and he didn’t look like the kinda guy whose pockets were big enough. And I could tell he’d come to buy our old scooter. Dad & I took him to the parkin’ lot where it was left standin’ in a corner. It still bore the marks of the paint I scratched off as a kid (and had had a nice thwacking for it)...It still had the dent from the first accident we were in...Still had the memories of Dad takin’ Mom to the movies for the first time...The way I looked at Dad in awe when he gave that speech of his the first time...The way I scrubbed it clean all day after that...The excitement I had when I first managed to start it up...The first time I smelt petrol...The first time I went to school and ran behind it cryin’ as Dad sped off...The first time I played Speed Racer and kicked the kid next door off the back-seat...The first time I had the wind at my face...All the times that I annoyed Dad with the constant horn-thumping...All the scolding I got from him for dancin’ on the seat while riding...All the times I fell asleep on Mom’s lap at the back-seat... And as the guy drove off with the scooter, I agreed with Dad for the first time...Maybe it was priceless!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Teenager Scribbler

Parents!!! One word to get a teenager into an instant mood (Old, torn, worn out, smelly shoes for guessin’ the kinda mood). They’re like walkin’, talkin’ ‘Tell Me Why’ books. Where’re you goin’? What do you need money for? Why’re you late? Where were you? The what, the when, the where, the who, the how….phew. And they say raisin’ up kids is difficult? Questions which basically have no answers or extremely obvious ones are what I get shot at. ‘Did you get your broken coolers fixed?’(Well Ma, would it still be lyin’ there in pieces if I had?) ‘Do you need any money?’(Are you really gonna fill me up if I said yes? Why ask ‘em in the first place if you’re not gonna give any? You don’t ask teenagers if they need money. Of course they need money. Why wouldn’t they?) Typical money conversations (which are probably only ones which take place between me and my folks) at my place go somewhat like this:

Ma, I need money’

How much?’ (Like she’s really gonna give it all to me)

How much you got?’

(Yes, I can be a blood-sucker at times, but c’mon, I’m their only son. They don’t have to spend money on anyone else. Pretty fair trade-off here you see? I ain’t that bad as you think. Besides, I’ll take real good care o’ them when I land myself in a job, which is gonna keep me confined to an 8 x 10 cubicle, frantically runnin’ my fingers on a cushioned key-board, on which the cushion is of obviously no use, and squeeze the juice outta me for no less than 14 hours a day and make the somewhat high salary seem like the tip that you’d give a waiter. Why am I wishin’ for such a paradisiacal job you think? I’m an Engineer. If I’m gonna wish for more I’d better be sure I’m rubbin’ Aladdin’s lamp. But all that I get to rub after I graduate, is a cushioned-chair look-alike which would analytically make you come to the conclusion that saddles are equivalent to heaven.)

‘What happened to the 100 bucks I gave you yesterday?’

(Wham. Only mothers can do that. Answer a question with a question that’ll knock you outta your senses. Now I’m really used to it (well….sorta), so I play it cool, although I’m wettin’ myself on the inside. What possible explanation could someone give for a question like that? (I’d bet a million bucks that it’ll baffle a Chartered Accountant.) Even that 100 bucks would’ve forgotten that it was with me (for like 5 whole minutes) the day before. And even if I did remember I can’t tell her the truth. Not that I took a gurl out or somethin’. (Yeah right. A 100 bucks in my pocket and I’m talkin’ about takin’ out a gurl?? Man, my Mom’s question really must have knocked my senses out. It takes at least two grand to take a gurl out these days. With these smelly restaurants and fast-food joints gettin’ new air-fresheners, confined spaces, and most importantly, a Newly Improved Menu Card, ‘impossible’ is the next word that comes to the mind of guys like me before takin’ out a gurl. And moreover, I’ve seen some guys unlike me takin’ chicks to such places. If you ask me I’d describe their condition in one word- Pathetic (with a capital ). But who asks me? I’m just another single guy tryin’ to get a life non-single ones may envy on. Why? You ask? I’ll tell you why. Remember those guys unlike me who took chicks to the restaurants? Well, their dates first test their patience (and the poor guy appointed as a waiter) by gaining a thorough knowledge of every item on the God-damned menu, due to which after some while, the waiter starts wonderin’ if he should be promoted as the Chief Chef. Then, the young lady, advances to give out an order which our poor waiter who’s already wonderin’ about his promotion, stops in the middle of it and starts calculating if he could’ve done away with a copy of the menu personally delivered to the Chef instead of findin’ a note-book large enough to jot down The Order, which if he was bright enough could’ve sold it to a publisher who foxes house-wives into buyin’ a low-cost compilation of continental delicacies. Hold on now. I’m not finished with the dates yet. Amidst all this, the guy keeps oglin’ into the chicks’ eyes as if he’d been hypnotized by a witch. (Well, the hypnotized part is certainly true, and hell, so is the witch part (What else would you call a woman with two inches of paint on her eyes, three inches on her cheeks, three and a half on her lips, nails the size of drum-sticks, and her hair havin’ a striking resemblance to a Tailor bird’s nest?)). So, as our poor and confused waiter arrives with all the stuff ordered (that he could get in one trip), frantically tryin’ to catch his breath in between, these two hold hands on the table, pretendin’ to be lost in each other, not givin’ the poor guy a chance to set the stuff down. Suddenly, the Cruella De Vil shrieks on seein’ the food set down by Mr. Poor-and-confused. Reason? She was on a diet and she forgot that while orderin’…..which perfectly explains why she ordered food enough to feed half o’ Somalia (The rest o’ the half lost their appetite on catchin’ a glimpse of our damsel). The afore mentioned pathetic guy then proceeds to feed her with his own hands, holdin’ a spoon of course (Why would anyone put food in an alligator’s mouth bare-handed?). She then advances as close to the spoon as possible, opens her mouth, and denies eatin’ (What suspense? Did you see that comin’? I’d bet Alfred Hitchcock wouldn’t have). After stuffin’ a coupla spoons, she puts up her hands in exhaustion to say she can’t eat a morsel more (Although, I’m pretty sure she can eat twice the items a ten-fold menu could hold). Our protagonist then gets up and tries to talk her into watchin’ a movie or whatever, as though he doesn’t care about all the money he wasted on the food (He doesn’t have a choice but to put up a carefree front. He can’t yell at her for orderin’ all that. Neither can he hog all of ‘em down with a gurl watchin’ him. Checkmate pal!!! Either lose your money or lose more o’ your money). Oh and if some o’ you new readers’re curious as to which movie they went to, finish your homework in the previous blog.) The point is I can’t tell her what I did with the money. Period.

I’m a genius!! All these thoughts run through me in micro-miniscule seconds, while I’m simultaneously workin’ up an answer for The question. Man!! My brain-cells must be overflowin’. No wonder they call me The Retardo Man!! Ahem….ahem….A’ rite I’ll stop.)

I spent it’.

(I know you’re all goin’ like “That’s it? That’s the bright answer? You made me read all that in the brackets just to hear this stupid one? I’m bringin’ my baseball bat now you bozo.” Hold it right there fellas. I haven’t finished yet.)

‘How’d you spend all that money? What’d you do with it? I gave you a fifty the day before too.’

(She says this as she puts the money on the table.)

‘Ma, where’s my socks? Why’re they never there where I put ‘em? Every single day I’ve to search for ‘em.’

(Bingo!! Perfect timing!!! She forgets all ‘bout the 100 bucks and goes sock-hunting. I did it again!! Now all those who’re gonna try this at home consult trained professionals first. The conversation must begin strictly at places where her purse is at an arm’s length and, most importantly, when she’s busy. For more details, contact me with a description of your Mom and the kinda job she does. Warning! Do not try this if your Mom’s a house-wife and your Dad’s already left for work.)

Well, such is how my day is made. I’m off now. (What? You expect me to write more with such hard-earned cash in my pocket? Hell, I’m outta here. Besides, some o’ you evil ones‘ve been complainin’ my blog’s too long. So right now, I’d better leave. Up, up, and awaaaaaayyyyy!!!).

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Single Scribbler

Girls!! How do they get hooked with the dumbest, weirdest, most uncool, guys on the planet? I’m sure every sane single guy or an ex-single guy must’ve asked this himself at some point or the other in his otherwise normal life. I mean, how is it that women drool over guys like Matthew Mc Connaughey and still end up with a guy no taller than Danny de Vito, no thinner than him for that matter, and with a brain quarter the size o’ the brain he’s got?? Is it just because they’re the easiest catch??....Hmmm…Are all dumb guys rich then??...Maybe…But sane, single guys like me never seem to get the answer. I guess that’s probably why we fill our status as ‘single’. Not that we complain about it. We’re pretty happy if you catch the view from our side.

We’ve got no one to make up a thousand times because we didn’t cry on hearin’ a beautiful girl’s plight with her best friends, OR because we didn’t ‘awww’ on seein’ a li’l boy dressed in the shabbiest of rags, (I know I know…rags ARE shabby….Just adds to the effect you know), beggin’ for a rupee, (Yes…That’s what they charge….The most recent one that I heard included a Money plus scheme from the Life Insurance Corporation), OR some crappy film starring SRK, who must be spendin’ half his life in Railway stations or Airports (In case you happen to be an alien from outer space, that’s where this guy picks up chicks from, whines and dines ‘em, (Yeap…I spelt that right), makes ‘em cry, and at the end starts cryin’ himself, which is of course after he’s made sure that every other character has shed half a bucket o’ tears, and in the end gets the chick back at the same airport/railway station, whichever’s whiter in background, whom he let go of with utter stupidity and stubbornness somewhere before the interval, which would’ve saved us insensitive singles, if he didn’t, on cigarettes, who sometimes make the mistake of goin’ to watch such pathetic excuses of films because they don’t have a girl to take out to, who, on the contrary, if we did have, would obviously ask us to take them to such pathetic excuses of films, and we ex-singles now would have to end up payin’ for two tickets in place of one, and absolutely NO cigarettes which we less brighter mortals think that it relieves all the tension caused by the repeated question imposed on us by our bitch of a conscience….”What’re you doin’ here??...What’re you doin’ here??...WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOIN’ HERE???”), cryin’ his head off over some overtly made-up stunning woman, who eventually comes back to him anyway, makin’ his whole cryin’ worthwhile (Well, that’s what the audiences are made to believe. They don’t know what she’s gonna do to the guy after they get home. She’d probably try to kill him with her mascara or hair-dryer by shoving it into his…uhh…nose, so that she wouldn’t have to waste her polka-dotted hand-kerchief on a guy who’s never grown a beard, and ahem ahem…waxes, and never ceases to weep like a baby who’s candy has been stolen by one such pathetic guy).

We don’t spend a thousand bucks on a 1cm x 1.5cm newspaper space reserved for love notes (PUKE) which go like,

‘Every moment I’m away from you I feel I’m walking on knives,

If I had one wish, I’ll wish we’re together for all the seven lives’

- Name withheld

*Barf* Excuse me dear. Now is that puke-inducin’ or what? I mean, what kind of a guy, writes stupid love notes like that? Jeez, walkin’ on knives? Get rid o’ those filthy loafers and get yourself a Nike you bastard.

And the reaction on the chick’s face the next day you ask? How the hell would I know? I didn’t write that. And even if was drunk on, like, 10 bottles of vodka, and I do happen to write such a romantic rhyme which has the ability to wipe out Shakespearean works from the surface of the Earth, I wouldn’t wanna find out.

Oh! I forgot to tell you the most important advantage we singles have. We can look at any gurl, for any amount of time and as many numbers of times as we count err...sheep, before dozin’ off. Now hold it right there.

I know what you non-single readers’re thinkin’ (Yeah right, the only probable readers of this post are gonna be a coupla my jobless friends who’re gonna resist with utmost disgust at the words ‘read’ and ‘blog’, and I’m talkin’ about categories of readers here??? Man, some hopes I’ve got). You’re probably thinkin’ I’m jealous o’ these not-so-impressive guys who end up with drop-dead gorgeous women.

All I'd say is you’ve got a point there, a pretty valid one. But if us singles (read sane bachelors) can walk away with the above mentioned advantages of being single, and the ones that I haven’t mentioned with utmost interest in Google’s storage limit, with just a small teeny weeny itsy bitsy accusation of bein’ jealous, then we have reasons to believe that you non-singles are definitely on the wrong side of God’s blessings. And with the utmost satisfaction of makin’ non-singles look pathetic, which does hurt me a bit too as I happen to have a heart of gold, studded with diamonds in between, I think I’ll stop my very first blog right here. Oh and people who did buy a Nike after readin’ my blog and are currently lookin’ for me with their former filthy loafers in hand, please do notify your nearest dealer in Nike of me as I would be grateful to receive a reasonable amount for such generous publicity.