This is a story, about a guy, who has dreams (not wet dreams of course!). He dreams of being someone, people would look up to, of a life that’s not determined by how well he scores on tests or where he gets his first job. He wishes of bigger things, but not tonight. Tonight is for some other purpose he says. He feels downright homesick. He misses his Mothers touch, the hug he gave her, before he stepped on that train, he misses his Dad, his patting him on his back, he misses pulling his younger brothers leg, without getting all gay about it. There is no place like home!!
He sets out on a stroll at 2 am. He sees a different world. Wandering past the rooms on his wing, lights out, he feels a strange tinge of pity for them all. He sees the different world. The roads, less crowded, more appealing, how calm the universe is at night, he can’t explain. The trees talking, the black of the night, the distant lamppost projecting the faint light in big blobs on the roads, the sound of his footsteps, he wonders who would miss this in exchange for sleep. He passes by couples, walking hand in hand, the girl talking about her aunt’s marriage, or how some other twerp is “totally creeping her out”, the boy nodding at every word or yawning and just trying to stay awake, and obviously wondering about the financial crunch his life is in, utterly uninterested in the conversation. Why girlfriend boyfriend conversations happen ONLY in English, our guy doesn’t seem to understand, well neither of us do, so it must not be worth pondering over I guess.
There is something going on inside of his head. You can be sure that it’s not his receding hairline or for that matter not even the thought of the very beautiful girl he knew, but never asked out. He is thinking of how in a moment life changes. He goes down memory lane. He remembers the most embarrassing moments of his life, and smiles over it. He wonders how strange people are, and how weird they can be. He plays his favorite Kishore Kumar song in his head, and smiles about the state the music industry is in. All to his dismay, fail to divert his attention. It starts drizzling. He once loved the rains, now it’s nauseating. Too much of anything is bad they say.
He gets a text, one among hundreds he gets in the day, but just the one that’s worth reading. A friend of his, from the girls hostel (of course, lucky him), wasn’t too sleepy either. An ice cream would be nice he thought, without even contemplating over the question for one bit. “Alone was something he should not be”, said that tiny voice inside his head. He takes out his pack of cigarettes, smokes one up, just in case he doesn’t get the opportunity in front of the lady, and starts walking. The road winds behind trees, and curves a few times, but he gets there, in time for her royal highness.
“What took you so long? “. She demanded to know!
“Nothing, I was just trying to look as good as I can. You know, I can’t do much with a face that looks like this. But I want to say I went down trying.” He tried to act as smart as he could. He thought this conversation is also in English, what has happened to the dear Hindi speaking girls of this world. Well the same that has happened to all the clean shaven guys of the world. Extinction, in a word.
“So, how was the food in your mess tonight? “
“The same bloody gooey daal, burnt rotis and sweet sabzi. All I eat there is the salad, maybe the mithai too. I haven’t dared to go beyond that. Haven’t the mess people heard of something called spices? Nowadays people are adding it to their $#* life. How difficult could it be to add that to food? Anyway, how was your dinner?”
“We had Chinese today, Manchurian and noodles and fried rice. We also had lassi and gulab jamun.”
“Wow”, he said. “And I thought Gender discrimination was not so prevalent in India anymore. Though those food items should not be served in combination, but yet, individually, mind boggling for a mess.” And obviously, he wasn’t feeling too good about stuff, add to that he is reminded of the bad food, making him miss his mom even more.
“Looks like your mind is somewhere else”, she said observantly.
“What gave me away?” he retorted. “Finally, I can talk about what’s been bugging me for so long”, he said to himself. But alas, he spoke to soon.
“You know, I have gained so much weight since I came here. I don’t like this place”. When in reality, the truth maybe that, they lost 5 kilos like you did. But no, if they say they’ve put on, it’s true. The conversation has to be about them, or else you are not paying attention.
He thought carefully, choosing his words like one choses a Tantra Graffiti Tee. He said “Okay, I’ll give you a situation. Let’s assume that the demand and supply for a particular good is constant. When suddenly there is a dip in the demand of a good for whatever reason, what happens to the prices of that good. It rises, and so does the value for that particular good, due to its scarcity. Now tell me, what is the closest situation that you can think of, resembling this phenomenon?”.
“Huh, Simple question. Girlfriends in IITB!!”, she said, as if she were talking about diamonds and rubies. “Is that all, you guys always think about? “No wonder, you people in IIT never manage to get girlfriends”, she said to add that extra pinch, making it hurt in the wrong area, the heart.
“Did u already not know, singlehood is one of the silent killers at IITB, and it’s right there at the top, along with drowning in the incessant rains, at second position. Why do u have to make it obvious to me that I’m more alone in comparison to the other 4000 people here, out of which only 50 may have girlfriends.” He wanted to say, but said “Hmmmm..” instead. Not finding the strength to argue the case for IIT guys any more. He knew that even the Administration mocks them by allowing girls entry into the boys hostel till 10PM. They trust in their incapability to do anything. Period.
His phone rang. The ringtone “I wanna be your Underwear”- Bryan Adams. He knew he had already lost the war, and now the battle was over too. Under sheer embarrassment, he picked up the phone somehow, only to answer to a dear ex-girlfriend drunk dialing him. Murphy’s Law at its best. Blasts from the past when you specially don’t want them. Apparently she was having a great time getting sloshed at house parties night after night after night, and her immediate need was to call our guy and tell him about it. Lame, but true. And yes, all bad stuff happens in one night only. What? Haven’t you seen The Hangover??
He processed all that was happening around him. “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead!”, he remembered Stinson saying, but that didn’t help either. He was bamboozled at his situation.
“So how do you like the ice cream?”, He enquired out of formality.
“Not like it’s the best in the world, but it’ll do.”
“Why do you girls have to demean every little thing, even stuff like how ice creams taste?, I mean what wrong did that poor thing do. It’s sweet and creamy both, You got your Belgian Chocolate, the best they serve. What is wrong with you guys, I don’t understand. What if sometimes, sometime all things are not perfect. Would it harm somebody if for once you would accept non perfect stuff?”
“We do have Non- Perfect boyfriends.”
“Aaah!!, That I understand. After all, you are so perfect, no?”
“Huh, I’m leaving.”
The perfect end to the day would be to fight with one of his best friends. He was contemplating on it for a while, when she turned back and said, “I saw something strange moving towards my left, I’m scared. Drop me off at my hostel. After that go to hell.”
“Haha, You wish.”
“Okay, PLEASE accompany me till my hostel, else I’ll die, and I promise I’ll write a suicide note, blaming you for not accompanying me to my hostel, and you’ll rot in jail.”
Blackmail, was a tool every girl is adept at, but not this poor soul. Even if there is a creature here, she would first sit down to write a note blaming him for it, rather than running for her life.
“Well, I’ll accompany you alright. But what’s in it for me?”
“Nothing, the other option is to watch me die from here.” And she was already improving on her blackmailing skills.
“Alright , I will come.”, he said with no zeal whatsoever. And it starts drizzling again.
And that’s when it happens. Out of nowhere a cat jumps in front of them. No small cat by any means.(”Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, What are they feeding You??, Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, Its not your fault!!”). It was a big cat, like a panther of sorts. Their heart beats rise. He looks into the glowing eyes of the panther, yes a panther it was. The panther salivating at the thought of new found meal. Our guy palpitating. The girl shivering, scared enough that not even a scream comes out. Nothing moves for a few seconds.
Moments of introspection. His life passes by in front of his eyes. The thought of his parents, his Mother, Father, cousins, he’ll miss them. Its his end, He is sure. He sees images run past like a projector was playing them. The day his Boards results were declared, he was happy, jumping all around the house. He saw sad moments, like his break-up with his first girlfriend, he cried the entire night. He sees flashes of his friends, the ones that have been there with him for almost his entire life. He never got to thank them. He wishes he could see his mother for one last time before all is lost, but he can’t. He wishes to tell his parents how much he loves them, but he won’t be able to. He thinks to himself, this could not be the end, it should not be. He has so much to do in his life. He just got through into one of the best Schools of the country. What a waste it would be if it were destined to end like this. If only he could escape, he would do things differently. He would do all that he wanted to do. He would be the best he could. He would complete with all his lost relationships. He valued those people more than anybody in his world. He wanted his one last chance, a new lease of life to make things better. He dreaded not getting that. He thought this was it. He said his prayers, thanked the Lord for the wonderful, whatever little life he had. He looked at the panther, still salivating, he leaked.
The exact moment all this was going on, his roomie had been trying to reach him. His cell was switched off. That’s what he did when he gets upset, and goes for a walk. He knew it was late, and that it was unusual for him to be out for so long, so he had went out to look for him at his favorite spot, the lakeside, but he wasn’t there. He concluded that our protagonist must have met somebody and was probably was somewhere on the campus itself, as autos were unavailable at that point in time at night/break of dawn and he, by the grace of God, started moving on the main road, nearly to where the ice cream parlor was. As he approached that place, he saw the most frightful sight of his life. Two of his best friends were standing opposite a black creature, with weird eyes, staring right into their faces.
The roomie moved a step backwards and accidentally stepped on a twig, that broke in two. That distracted the panther and it turned its attention towards, the single guy to its right, who was till now unnoticed. It weighed the odds. It knew, that it was in the territory of men, there were many more to come if it stayed any longer. That even if more men came they won’t help, this fact was known only to humans, the poor panther had not studied about the “Bystander effect” in O.B., and probably thought its life was in danger too, and in a flash jumped back into the shrubs, where it had appeared from.
As the cold air filled the lungs of the three, they began to gain semblance of what had just happened in a matter of a few seconds. They looked at each other shell shocked, neither able to utter a word, nor move. What had just happened, hadn’t sunk in yet. It was probably the most horrifying experience in their lives. Facing death, staring at them, in their face, they realized the importance of life. All of them knew that this could have been it. They were still shivering with fear. They could barely move. The one who had pissed in his pants moved first, as he had already released some pressure.
“Lets get going.”. His voice trembling with fear. No further word was spoken till they reached the girls hostel. No goodnights, no byes.
“You gonna be okay?”
“I guess”. She spoke for the first time.
The guys turned and started walking towards their hostel. It was pouring down heavily, they just realised. They could not run, they could not stop, He wanted to get wet, it shifted attention away from his already wet pants. They kept going at the same pace. They did not speak one word about what had happened. Suddenly, he slipped and fell flat on the ground. Woah, it was a bad day he thought.
“Get up, you fucking moron!!” he could hear somebody say. The voice sounded familiar.
Dude, how abso-fuking-lutely crazy are you, Wake up, we’re late!!”
“Late????????” He said quizzically. It was his roomie.
He woke up to the sun on his face, creeping through the window of his hostel room.
“What happened to me?”
“You dumbfuck, you were snoring like anything, and making weird noises, while sleeping. Bad dream haan?”
“Fuck!!”, It was a dream. “A dreadful one”, he said to himself.
He got up, washed his face, ran for his class, and settled into the monotony of the day.
How could it be a dream? It could not. It seemed as vivid and real, as he thought it was. No, his roomie must be messing with him. It was real. He did go out of the hostel the previous night. He could not remember. He wasn’t sure. “It maybe was a dream”, but then why did it feel like it wasn’t.
With this I leave you. Ponder over this thought. “Some things are better, if we don’t get into the reality behind them. Sometimes, oblivion is best.”
DISCLAIMER: The characters in is post bear no resemblance to any living creature. Its only a figment of my imagination.