and I’m looking at a blank page now
should I fill it up with words somehow?

 

the scratching of a mellotron
it always seemed to make her cry
well maybe she remembers us
collecting s p a c e up in the s k y

Last night, she told me that she loved me. And that i did not love her. Told me.

 

Red mist spreads across my fingertips, ardour slips

I nearly broke down. First time, in a long time.

 

nothing like this felt in her kiss
cannot resist her

I can’t hide all the time. I cannot.

 

im getting feelings im hiding too well
bury the heart shaped shell

you would have known if you had ever truly loved someone.

making assumptions. maybe you’re right.

You thought it was the start of something beautiful?
– I hate living between two worlds

– So do I – I am this perfectly regular guy on one side

– and a sexy sadist who takes advantage of his sidekick on the other

– the sidekick is seductive

– she isn’t

well think again.

 

She is to you what every guy ive been in a relation with – after S. – has been to me. And I don’t care about him anymore. You don’t? No. Nobody has actually hated me before. It has been two years. And he hates my guts. He wanted to marry me; and now he hates me. I have been through pure hell, trust me. This happens once. It will never happen again. Not this.

 

I…I learned to be alone. I don’t…need…anybody.

Will you teach me?

 

something broke inside my stomach
i let the pieces lie just where they fell

 

I talk her to orgasm. Stop. Stop. Now. Orgasms, maybe. Can you give me two minutes? I’m sorry to keep you waiting.

She called you every other day. So savour it it’s all gone now shesmovedon. People who are submissive in real life are dominant in bed. A bet for ten bucks and a bribe of unconditional love. Girl: there’s a difference between a guy who wants to make love to you and one who wants to fuck you. Boy: Both end up fucking you anyway. No, I do not believe you are nothing. It never is that easy.

okay whats next

after the sex

 

i wont mislead you. I’m sorry.

what do we do now?

 

finding the time

drawing the line

 

imagine him having an affair, leaving you. But he wanted you and now he’s just…dead? Dying, in front of your eyes?

She changes every time you look

She doesn’t interest me. That’s all.

People  don’t collapse.

Lots of people do. You have no idea.

Lots of people don’t.

and never crossing it

 

i told you i wouldnt get in touch with you till i return

Don’t look back into black
Don’t let the memory of sound drag you down

youll take ten deep breaths and then stutter one word.

hair blown in an open car
summer dress slips down her arm

 

 

glass arm glass arm shattering shattering

 

in one of those rare phases when we were talking, she told me that she had never loved me. and that i was probably the person who had loved her the most.

It is over.

Yes, it is.

All my designs – simplified

You are scared. You are too cautious. Calculating. I can never be like that.

No it’s not that.

You are scared.

I just don’t want to hurt anybody. I don’t want to be her.

And all of my plans – compromised

You are scared. listen to yourself, justifying what you say. I have hurt everybody ive been in a relation with, since him.

Okay, maybe i am a bit scared

You are scared, and believe me, you are missing out.

And all of my dreams – sacrificed

 

arriving somewhere – but not here…

 

– just let me cling to you for a while. I lay her gently on my clothes
Till i find another soul. Then i’ll be gone. She will leave me yes I know

– Leaving me my peaceful, calculated life?

And something warm and soft just passed through here
It took the precious things that I hold dearer
It rifled through the grey and disappeared
The creeping darkness makes the small hours clearer

leaving you your peaceful, calm life, and a scar-free neck

(girl, don’t you bloody understand you’re making me cry? Unravel out the finer strands. I need those watercolour-stained fingerprints on my tee, my skin, my bones, my soul. those scars heal me)

 

Yes I’d have to say I like my privacy
And did you know you’re on closed circuit TV? So smile at me

 

I sobbed through the nights after my roommates had fallen asleep. Until i cried myself to sleep. Don’t look at me with your mother’s eyes or your killer smile
Sing a lullaby
I was a nervous wreck and i didn’t show it.

You are a wonderful beautiful person.

Beautiful? You said so yourself, she smiled. Go fuck yourself.

Then what will you do? I’ll do you.

-iamnotwonderful:iamselfish-

I don’t remember
Did something in my past create a hole?

 

as the cheerless towns pass my window

i can see a washed out moon through the fog

youre a lot of firsts. the first guy i’m not selfish about. The first time i have nothing to say at all.

my david

don’t you worry
this cold world is not for you
so rest your head upon me
I have strength to carry you.

(P.S. I wanted to keep the original, un-punctuated form – as it was jotted down in the bus from Kolkata to asansol on the 29th of December, between 12.30 pm and 2 pm.

All the song lyrics are from Porcupine Tree‘s Deadwing album.)

Advertisements

I put on the new white t shirt I’d bought for
the occasion, packed
some essentials and left for park street.
Moinak had called up to say
that he was just leaving home and would be
there in half an hour. In
the auto from nonapukur to bata more, and
walking the rest of the way,
i cross checked the timings. 8 pm to 11 pm,
21st May, Someplace Else.
Bob Dylan tribute concert with Lou Majaw and
the Saturday Night Blues.
111 people were attending. The pub would
be jam packed.
I googled lou majaw on the web. The usual
story. Boy from Shillong
with a passion for blues learns to play the
guitar, comes to Kolkata
and plays with a number of heavy metal
bands, plays at a number of
pubs. Then, a person gifts him a record of Bob
Dylan one evening when
he’s playing at Moulin Rouge. And, as he puts
it, his life is changed
forever. He becomes a fan, more accurately, a
disciple of Dylan.
In 1972, he organises a dylanfest at his
hometown on the occasion of
the maestro’s birthday, 24th May, which
eventually grows into a
national event over the years.
And, in Kolkata, he forms the Ace of Spades
with him in the lead,
Arjun Sen on guitars, Lou Hilt on Bass and
Nondon Bagchi on drums,
which, other than celebrating Dylan’s birthday
in style at SPE on the
weekend before, each year, also plays the
Beatles, the Doors and so
on…
By the time I turned the corner of Free School
Street and saw Music
World, it had started to drizzle. Which slowly
turned into a downpour
by the time I raced past Moulin Rouge/Olypub/
Oxford to reach The
Street. I called up Moinak who was still stuck
at Rashbehari, and told
me to go on in.
When I entered SPE through the lounge of The
Park, it was 8 pm and
Deep Purple was playing. Child in Time.
Ritchie Blackmore’s incredible solo that
completed the song about the
Cold War was followed by REM’s melancholy
Losing my religion, Dire
Straits’ Sultans of Swing that was written for a
night just like this,
and a host of other songs I didn’t know the
names of. It was twilight
inside the pub, and a few people were havingtheir evening rounds
while watching the IPL match between KKR
and Pune. I recognised one of
the faces, Pratikda, drummer of our college
band, Lucid Interval. He’d
come only for a couple of drinks with his
friend, but I asked him to
stay over for the performance.
Moinak came in at 8.30, after waiting for a
while, we went out and had
dinner at Waldorf, where Moinak said he
recognised one of the girls in
the table next to us as one whom he chatted
with regularly over
Facebook. Then we made a list of the songs
we wanted to hear tonight.
In order, it was:
1 blowing in the wind
2 hey mr tambourine man
3 times they are a changing
4 like a rolling stone
5 it aint me babe
6 all along the watchtower
7 knocking on heaven’s door.
Though our repertoire of Dylan songs was
rather restricted, we rushed
off enthusiastically so as not to miss any one
of those, at least.However, it was 9.30, the pub was fuller now,
and yet, there was no
sign of either Mr. Majaw or the SNB.
We whiled away our time admiring the Squire
Strat on show, while we
discussed about what guitar we wanted to
play, someday when we could.
Moinak wanted a Gibson Les Paul and a
Fender Strat while I wanted an
ESP, and a Fender strat. By 10, we were
getting restless and tired of
admiring the girl in a black top and white
bermuda having a cocktail
with her friends on one of the couches. I
stayed back to listen to
some bob dylan being played, the usuals,
while moinak went out for a
smoke. The guy setting the playlists messed
up a bit and played John
Mayer’s version of Crossroads instead of
Dylan’s. However, Mayer’s
soothing voice crooning ‘I went down to the
crossroads, tried to flag
a ride/Nobody seemed to know me, everyone
passed me by’ complimented
by his incredible guitarwork was a treat for
sore ears.
Then, we went out to the lounge and chatted
about things: college, a
weird almost impromptu song parodying
death metal that moinak had
recorded with his friends, etc. Just when we
started wondering if we
should leave, moinak told me that a man with
a ‘metal’ look had just
walked past us into SPE. I asked Moinak if the
man had long silver
hair, and when he replied in the affirmative, i
told him that this was
our man.
The Man:
We walked into SPE just behind the man,
making his way through the
crowd, many of whom did not seem to know
him and were busy with their
drinks, partners, or stories. But, of course the
majority were there
only for him. He went into the room with the
music console while his
guitarist tuned their guitars. Mr. Majaw’s was
a well-used Epiphone,
the other guitarist, a diminutive NEastern with
the most unassuming
appearance, blue checked shirt, dark blue
denims and a regular black
shoe used one I could not recognise, with a
symbol like the pharaoh’s
cigar on the headstock. The bassist, a rather
large man with a
ponytail, in white tees and denim, used a
beautiful designer Fender
bass – whitewith black clouds and wings. The drummer,
another typical
NE musician, handsome, with a ponytail in
addition to his goatee,
settled his cymbals while Mr. Majaw mixed the
drinks that would keep
them going through the night.
Then, the music console finished playing
Sultans of swing for the
second time that night, fell silent and Lou
majaw walked on stage to a
huge applause from a packed audience.His appearance and attire was, in short,
designed to stand out in a
crowd. In spite of a balding scalp in front, he
still sported silver
hair that fell down to slightly below his
shoulder. His Mongolian eyes
and laugh crinkles at the corner of those eyes
were accentuated by the
broadest and most dazzling smile i had seen
for a long long while, and
a tuft of short silvery beard jutting out from
just below his lower
lips. His sleeveless gray tees decorated with
two embroidered orange
eyes and a nose was offset by a green bead
necklace. And, he wore,
well, light blue denim hot pants! From which
his two stout legs stood
out, and ended in an odd pair of woollen
socks – red with two
horizontal yellow stripes on the left foot and
yellow with two
horizontal black stripes on the right. A pair of
white sports shoes
with red-black laces on the left foot and
purple-black laces on the
right completed his striking attire.
The concert:
His opening words, after a fantastic opening
instrumental in which his
guitarist demonstrated why you shouldn’t
judge someone by looks alone,
playing a remarkable solo with equally
remarkable ease, were:
‘It’s good to be back home’
In the huge applause that followed, one of the
audience yelled
‘Let’s have some Beatles tonight!’
without blinking an eyelid, Mr. Majaw replied
‘sure, we shall have some Beatles 2/3 months
later. But tonight, we
have gathered here to celebrate the birthday
of one of the greatest
men’ *applause* ‘ a man with whom we
should feel lucky to share the
same planet with’ *more applause* ‘yes, to be
in the same planet with:
Mr. Bob Dylan. Mr. Dylan, wherever you are
now, happy birthday!’
*thunderous applause as he ends this speech
with a reverential bow to
the maestro*.
Then he launched into a foray of songs, most
of which i could not
unfortunately, recognize.
However, it was unmistakably dylan, right
from the nasal whine to the
doubting, questioning lyrics, to the amazing
earthy guitar riffs that
never once deviated from the spirit of the
song no matter how loud or
fastthey were. Mr. Jones, harold wesley and just
like a woman were
the only ones I could sing along with…but the
infectious enthusiasm
of mr. Majaw as he danced in time to the
music, just like charlie
chaplin in modern times, and beat the hell out
of his well-worn
guitar, and ended each song with a flourish
and a bang on the guitar
was too catching as the crowd got on its feet
and bounced to the
beats, spilling over a bottle of beer and
breaking a glass of some
green cocktail in the process.
Around 11.10, he applauded the audience
while his band members went
for a drink…asking, with astonishment, what
would we do if Mr. Dylan
were actually here now?
Before the roar of laughter and applause
could die out, he started
strumming the first chords of ‘hey mr
tambourine man’ and the crowd
sang along with him on the trip upon his
magic swirling ship, though
the evening’s empire had returned into sand…His smiling face turned serious and you could
tell how much Dylan
meant to him as he played a beautiful
interlude to a full house
singing along to his cry of hey mr tambourine
man…and i had my
cellphone out, video recording this
experience. Song after song
followed as this 64 year young dylanist, drew
upon his inexhaustible
reserves of energy to continue performing
solo even as his much, much
younger bandmates were taking a rest,
pausing only occasionally to
take a sip from the water bottle he’d filled
with an amber coloured
liquid. And each time he ended a song with
his trademark flourish and
a loud last chord that rang through the pub,
the crowd, right from the
girl we’d been eyeing to the middle-aged lady
in green salwar who
stood just a feet away from the massive
speakers right throughout the
concert swaying to dylan, broke out into loud
impromptu cheers.
And then as his band returned to the stage,
the virtuoso ended the
solo leg of his performance with blowing in
the wind…and cheered on
as the crowd sung ‘the answer my friend is
blowing in the wind’. The
song drew towards a close with the band
joining in, and ended with the
longest flourish and the loudest ovation for
dylan’s masterpiece.
Then, the madness started as they belted out
awesome renditions of
dylan’s classics with mr. Majaw quipping ‘let’s
have some queen jane’-
queen jane approximately; ‘no matter how
much times change, the one
thing you should never lose is your youth’-
times they are a’changing
. Unable to contain my excitement, I yelled out
from my side of the
stage…’like a rolling stone’.
The singer looked at me with no hint of
condescension like acceding to
a request from a fan, just a childlike glee in
having found a fellow
dylan fan.
‘Yeaah! We should all go through our life like
rolling stones…the
rolling stones that gather no moss!’
and launched into ‘once upon a time you
looked so fine/dinnyooo!!’ and
his audience shouted along to the heart-
rending chorus of ‘how does it
feel/to be on your own/with no direction
home/acomplete unknown/like
a rolling stone’. Sweat dripping from his
forehead, voice almost
cracking from the strain, he still danced and
jumped along in the 10
feet x 15 feet stage, playing the guitar – and
the crowd – like the
pied piper. He sang on continuously, drawing
from dylan’s huge body of
work, the crowd swaying with him, till he hit
the compulsory ending
stroke on his guitar, ending ‘forever young’ at
11.50.
Eager for more, i shouted ‘knockin on
heaven’s door!’ from my corner
of the stage.
He smiled his childish smile and asked me
what the time was, by my
watch. A guy next to me said it was 12. ‘It’s
time to go home!’, he
said in his dylanish accent with a laugh. I
shouted ‘no, it’s just
11.52’.He laughed in reply…and burst out in a final
reserve of energy, into
a version of knocking on heaven’s door that,
though kind of guns ‘n
roses in its loudly melodious guitars, still
retained the
quintessential dylanish flavour that was Mr.
Majaw’s hallmark…and
then, as the show came towards a close, he
loudly informed us, over
the music, about the 2 gigs he and his band
would play at shillong on
23rd and 24th to celebrate Bob dylan’s
birthday – one at a club from
2pm to 4pm and then the actual concert from
8pm to 2am in the
evening/night where 8 other bands from all
over the northeast were
also going to participate!
Moinak and I stared at each other, amazed at
this superman and his
devotion towards his idol!
Then lou majaw took off his guitar, his shirt,
took the mike from its
stand, and resumed singing. The frenzy
started as he repeated the
chorus of ‘knock knock knocking on heaven’s
door’ again and again and
again…on the stage, then standing on the
monitor, then on the bar
table, where he couldn’t stand up to his full
height because his head
was touching the roof…the crowds turned to
watch him, repeating,
shouting, singing knock knock knocking on
heaven’s door like it was a
prayer, he held the microphone to faces in the
crowd, voices that had
broken sung the chorus over and over, the
diminutive guitarist,
imposing bassist and impossibly fast
drummer launching into their own
separate beautiful solos that merged into one
complete harmony with
the crowd and mr. Majaw’s voice.
By the time he came back on the stage to
introduce his band members
(the music was still playing), even his voice
had cracked.
Finally the crowd erupted into an ovation as
the performance drew to a close.
‘Thank you, all you beautiful people, I wish mr.
Dylan could be here,
to see how much you beautiful people still
love him. It’s been an
amazing experience, as always, here back to
my home, to calcutta, to
someplace else. Happy birthday, Mr. Dylan. May
you live long!!!’

I HATE alcohol, and people who go on about its merits. ‘Wine Connoiseur‘?? Fuck off!!!! You’re no better than a ganja addict, RETARD! And you haven’t one-tenth his guts.

Can anyone here tell me what they gain by drinking themselves to dumbness? ‘COOLNESS“???? How can a person who cannot string two proper words in the correct grammatical sequence be “KEWL“, whatever that means?

And I don’t see why a person is admired for being able to ‘carry his drink‘, as the phrase goes. It’s like diabetics competing in a sweet-eating-race, to see who can survive longer. Dumb, really.

It’s a mad world, where violent people, and drunkards, are treated as HEROES. And it’s not a good ‘mad’. It’s a very very BAD sort of ‘MAD’.


I am not happy. I have never been truly happy since I left school.

Yes, school was tough, too. But, at least, there has always been the light at the end of the tunnel. That I’ll be doing something of my choice once I pass out.

So, what’s wrong with my subject? Nothing, I suspect, except the fact that it’s not my subject. Noble profession? Maybe. But the fact is, it requires interaction with people to achieve its full meaning. Voluntary, interested interaction. Which I do not enjoy.

In fact, what is really wrong is that I don’t care about people. Yes, I don’t like to see them hurt. Much less to be responsible for it. It weighs on my conscience, I suppose. But it has, I know, always been about me – ‘my’ conscience. I’m a self absorbed wretch. Period. I don’t hate people, no, don’t get me wrong. I’m just indifferent to them – I wish I wouldn’t have to interact with them any more than necessary. I wish I would be left alone.

But the strange thing is, I have had, and am having, really really great people around me all these years of my life. I’ve been lucky to be blessed with the acquaintance of some of the best people in the world, in every way…yet I have grown up to be what I am, today.

The problem, of course, lies with me. It is a double-edged knife.

(1)    I shouldn’t have been the way I am, with the circumstances that I’ve grown up in. But I can’t change that, I guess. Ego sum qui sum.

(2)    I should have let people know what I am. I doubt anybody could – or indeed, would – have stopped me from doing what I want. But the truth is, I’m a coward. I hide myself to please others. I justify myself by saying that I hate hurting people, but that’s just an excuse.

The truth is, I cower from making decisions. I let people throw their weight around me. I let others take my life’s decisions, hoping against hope that they would turn out to be correct. Or, believing that, ‘in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on’. Or at the very least, someone to blame for the dead end. And, I must admit, my luck has always held.

But, I fear that this time round, my luck has run out. I’m on my own. Maybe without even a prayer to help me on my way.

There isn’t Another Road. This one’s a Dead End. And the only one to be Blamed is me.

Fuck. Who did I think I was? Lord Luck?

(P.S. One last thing: I do hate hurting people. I’m not claiming that as an excuse to my behaviour. But yes, I do want people around me to be happy. Very much.)

(P.P.S. I believed tremendously in myself, that I’m blessed with excellence. That belief still exists, albeit in a very diminished form. So, maybe I’ll survive  this dead end too. And find a way out.

Here’s to that much-hoped-for-and-non-existent-as-of-yet way.)

Too long have I yearned for happiness.

Once, I believed in what everyone said brought joy – Wealth. Strength. Power.

Then came the day when the three men killed my brother; and dad, instead of  killing them, released them on being compensated with a treasure hoard.

Dad deserved to die, I was only the agent of justice.

The gold was now all mine. But people lusted after what I had.

So, I grew till I was the greatest of all. My armour and weapons were the finest. Now men could only covet my riches from afar.

I now had it all – Wealth. Strength. Power.

But where was happiness?

 

“Strange, the Dragon actually seemed happy when it died. Kind of…peaceful.” Sigurd told Regin, wiping off the blood from his sword, Gram.

“It must have grown bored of life.” Regin laughed.

“Dunno. Anyway, where did it keep this treasure?” Sigurd replied, more brightly.

_______________________________________________________

Sources:

  • Wikipedia 
  • The Online Medieval and Classical Library

Links (Just to be sure):

I

It’s because of him, I thought furiously to myself as I blinked away my tears to get a clearer view of the road in front of me. Because of him I’ve been exiled from my home, my parents hate me because of him, because I couldn’t live up to the standards he set for me.

He had ever been the wall that stood in my path, whose shadow loomed over each effort of mine.

Adi, my elder brother. Dr. Aditya Ganguly, the pride of his family, his school, his friends. A well mannered, mild spoken boy with an academic career to be envied. Extremely popular among his friends, for in spite of his achievements he embodied humility and kindness. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, and never said a hurtful word in his life or acted in a way which could hurt anybody.

Almost never, anyway. In spite of my efforts to maintain the intensity of my anger at him, a smile crept into my face at the thought of a certain winter afternoon.

 

“Howzzat!” Antyo yelled.

“And what sort of an out is it, may I know, dear sir, that I may document it in the rulebook as a precedent for umpires?” I retorted, a bit irritated.

We were playing cricket in our backyard, with a deuce ball for a change. As I played in the senior school team, this was no big deal for me. But I was apprehensive that Antyo, who was only seven, could get himself hurt. However, Antyo insisted. And when Ananta Ganguly insists, well, let’s just say that the ‘Ganguly Nibas’ would be hard put to stay in one piece after not acceding to his request.

“That was a clear leg-before-wicket! My turn to bat!” Antyo protested.

‘That’ was of course, not a clear leg-before-wicket. But then, who was going to take the risk of explaining that to my baby bro?

My first delivery had more exuberance in it than I intended it to have. Maybe it was just the frustration of an elder brother at being treated unfairly by life.

The next thing I know, Antyo was lying on the ground clutching his forehead in his hands, which were red and wet. I was at his side in a moment, pulling off his hands to see how much damage had been done, then tying my handkerchief tightly to his forehead and carrying him off into the house.

In retrospect, I realize that this was probably the first time that I was not frightened at the sight of blood. Probably I was too afraid for my brother to give way to my fears.

I remember only snatches of what followed. Antyo insisting that I stay in the emergency ward while he was being stitched. Clutching my hand tightly while the doctor put in the stitches. Smiling at me while his head was being bandaged. And later that day, when I tucked him into his bed for the night – “ Dadabhai, you’d make a good doc, you know that?”

 

II

“Kolkata na Bankura?” A man yelled into my ears, causing me to come out of my reveries. I hadn’t noticed that I had already reached the bus stand. Man, walking blindly like that could have killed me.

Not that it would bother anybody overmuch. My anger returned with that thought. I was always the problem child. Actually, I wasn’t that bad in studies either. Or at games. But what the heck did anyone care about that? If I did well, well, I was supposed to, with a brother like I had. If I didn’t, oh look, there goes the boy whose brother did this-and-that, and he’s so useless! I don’t want to be like him, I yelled, I am an individual with talents and dreams of my own, I don’t want to be trapped in a great career, I want to be a poet, a songwriter. But hello, was there anybody in there who’d hear me?

Funnily enough, it was Adi who ignited this ambition in me. He was the one who made me listen to Dylan, the Beatles, Floyd, Seeger, GnR, Mohiner Ghoraguli, Suman, to understand Rabindrasangeet, to enjoy both folk songs and Bach-Beethoven-Mozart equally, with their different flavours. Unknown to me, another smile lit my face up as I thought back to the day when he bought his first acoustic guitar.

 

Well, I had just finished my first sems of my first year at college, and I made baba-mam get an acoustic guitar for me. It was nothing much to tell of, actually, an f-hole Givson Crown. But it was my first guitar.

Imagine my wrath, then, when I didn’t even get to touch it within the first hour of its arrival at my home. Antyo was happily playing with it.

At the end of one hour, though, I’d decided that I had exercised my quota of patience for about a week, and now it was time to conserve what was left of it.

“Give it to me. NOW!!” I shouted.

“Just listen to what I’ve picked up, dadabhai.” Antyo said, unperturbed by my fury.

Then, on my still untuned guitar, he flawlessly played the first part of Für Elise.

At the end of about one minute, when he stopped playing, I could just say – “Wow. Santana junior is coming to town. Satriani watch out.” Santana was his favourite guitarist. Satriani was mine.

For probably the first and last time in his life, my little bro blushed. In pride. I could see that the compliment meant a lot to him. How much, I was to come to know later.

 

III

I got off from the bus at Esplanade, and boarded another, which would take me to my destination. The only place in the world, other than ‘Ganguly Nibas’, which I could call home.

And resumed my train of furious thoughts. Heck, he was the root of all my troubles, I thought. As if getting me a real, big acoustic guitar for my ninth birthday – under the pretext that I always had my hands on his – wasn’t enough, he was the one who introduced me to the members of what would be, in the future, my band.

 

Rohit was clearly impressed by both Antyo’s proficiency at the guitar, and the songs that he wrote. As was his younger sister, Ritika.

“We’ve got ourselves an artist and a technician here, a rare combination. We could really do with someone of your talents. Would you like to join us?” He asked Antyo. Rohit was a friend who I’d first met at our college fest, and the lead vocalist-percussionist-lyricist of the popular metal outfit, ‘Harp of Death’. We’d quickly warmed to each other on getting to know that we both hailed from the same town.

“Yeah, and throw both your talent and your sanity down the drain in the process,” Ritika retorted. “All they can do is shout, and drown the shouts in more noise. Join our group instead, Antyo.” She added with a winning smile.

“You mean that pop group with the weird name – Underlings? He’d be wasted there.”

“ It’s Ainulinde. And we’re alternative rock. It’s a lot better than your group of howlers, actually.”

“Are you asking me to believe that you can actually play the guitar that you’ve decorated your room with?” Rohit snapped back, and ducked just in time to avoid Ritika’s punch.

 

IV

I got off from the bus where I was supposed to. Quite surprising, given that my brain wasn’t working properly.

I do not know why I chose Ainulinde over the Harp of Death. Perhaps my dislike of too-loud music, or perhaps, as Adi used to tease me, because I liked Ritika. What I know is that it sort of…worked for me, for the lack of a better word. I was really happy for the first time since Adi went away to college. I had more to look forward to in life than my brother’s occasional visits. No longer did I have only one person to open my heart to. Ritika, Joy and Som filled me with a sense of belonging.

His shadow still loomed over my life, however, in more ways than one. He had to be the first one to listen each song I composed, the one whose critique I held most important.

My happiness had to be accompanied by is fair share of problems. My academics took a place of second priority. As a consequence, my results belied expectations quite dismally. And the reprimands from my parents, along with the comparisons with Adi that were already quite regular, became part of almost every waking hour of my life, and even of some of the sleeping. The release I got from books and songs did not seem enough any longer.

Just thinking of those days brought back my anger. I reached into my pocket and found the packet of cigarettes and the lighter that was always there. I took out my cigarette, put it between my lips and lit it. Then I took it out, threw it to the ground, and stamped on it with much more force than was actually necessary to extinguish it. Waste of another three rupees, all because of him.

 

“Cigarette smoking is injurious to health, especially the variety with canna inside it instead of nicotine.” I announced as I walked into the cloud of smoke that filled his room.

“Oh c’mon bro. Floyd is psychedelic rock. And I don’t give a damn about my physical health anyway. What are you wasting your life studying those huge textbooks for?” Antyo was his usual nonchalant self.

“I prefer to think that Floyd wrote that stuff in spite of the hallucinogens, not because of them.”

“Twenty cigarettes a day each day for twenty years increases the risk of lung cancer in ten percent of cases, remember bro? You shouldn’t have got those stats into my head.” Antyo laughed.

“Firstly, you’re smoking canna, which has the additional benefit of being addictive. Secondly, that is just one study, and allow me to opine, it was a very optimistic one. Thirdly, I am not joking any longer, Antyo. I won’t say anything if you feel this is a stress buster, or it boosts your creativity. However, injuring yourself just to antagonize out parents seems very foolish to me.” I was serious.

There was a sudden change in the atmosphere of the room as Adi stopped smiling, got up from his bed and strode to me, stopping inches from my face. His usually calm eyes now held a frightening intensity, and his voice echoed with long suppressed anger.

“You want to know why, my dear dadabhai? It’s all because of you. Day-in day-out I have to hear your praises. I have had to listen to it all my life. I have tried to be what they want me to be to earn a little appreciation. To no avail. Then I stopped trying to impress them, I didn’t want any appreciation now, I just wanted to be left alone. Hell, but what were my desires to them? ‘You make us feel so ashamed, Antyo, look at your great elder brother, look at what he was and what you’ve become.’ But you know what? I don’t care what anybody thinks of me any longer. I am going to do what I want while you rot in your bloody great career. I am not going to stand being told any longer what to do, what to be. So just get off my back and mind your own business.”

I wasn’t ready for the outburst. I never could have been.

No, I was not hurt. I was broken. This was what I, unwittingly, had turned the person I loved most in the world, into.

“I’m sorry, Antyo.” I whispered, turning away very quickly so he couldn’t see my tears, and left the room in a daze.

Later that day, when I woke up from my siesta, I saw a note on my table, kept under a packet of cigarettes and a lighter.

I picked up the note. In Antyo’s beautiful but careless handwriting, it said – “You are right. I was being foolish. And forget whatever I said earlier. I meant none of it.”

He wasn’t in his room. Mam told me that he had gone over to Ritika’s place and said that he wouldn’t be returning that night, and that he was going to get into so much trouble one of these days.

Later, Mam told me that Antyo was never seen smoking after that day, although a packet of cigarettes could always be found in his room.

 

V

The torture only got worse as I entered college. Adi was by now doing his post-grads, so Dad bought a flat in Kolkata where he could stay. He now came home once in a blue moon. Ainulinde, and his infrequent calls were the only silver linings in the dark sky that was my life.

Then came today. Yesterday we had a gig at a local club. It wasn’t much, but still we celebrated late into the night and the early morning.

I returned home in the morning to find Mom and Dad already at breakfast. They didn’t shout at me. Just the snide remarks from Dad – “The great guitarist returns home. Enjoyed your night with those louts you call friends? Do you have to come back for your breakfast at your father’s place still? Aren’t you famous enough yet?” Mom’s whining – “What did we do to get you as our son? Where have we gone wrong in raising you?” And, of course, the inevitable comparisons that stung the most – “Who will say that Adi and you are brothers? Just look at what he is, and what you’ve become.”

I had reached the end of my tether. I calmly finished my breakfast, went into my room, packed a few things into my backpack, put my wallet, cell phone, the cigarette packet and the lighter in my pocket, and slung my guitar over my shoulders. On second thoughts, I kept the cell phone back in its place and walked out of my room.

Now, to get out of our house, you have to go through the drawing room. Mom and Dad were still seated at the breakfast table, which is in our drawing room.

“So, the great rockstar leaves home and becomes a great rockstar, is it?” My father commented. That I’d get out of the house without any more drama had been too much too hope for, I thought.

I struggled furiously to control my emotions, and then, in a voice as calm and stable as I could manage to make it, I began – “No, I’m doing nothing so dramatic. I’m just…”

 

 

“He said he was just going away from home for some time to stabilize himself. That he had reached the limit of what he could endure. That as much as he admired you, he had no intentions of being you. That he was going to stay for some time in a place where he’d be appreciated for what he was. That he was still grateful to us and still loved us. And then he left.” Mam’s voice broke down as she sobbed into the receiver at the other end.

“Have you called Ritika?” I asked, though I had a fair idea of what the answer would be.

“I called each of his friends; he’s left his cell phone here. He has gone to none of them. Your Baba has gone to file an FIR at the police station. God only knows what’ll happen now.”

“Don’t worry,” I said in the bravest voice that I could manage, “everything will be alright. He’s my brother, I know him. He might be a little eccentric, but he’s sensible enough to keep himself out of harm’s way. I am doing all I can here.” I replaced the receiver and prayed that I knew my brother as well as I thought I did.

Almost as if in answer to my prayers, the doorbell rang.

 

VI

The label which said ‘Dr. A. Ganguly, MBBS’ suddenly disappeared from my sight as the door to which it was nailed flew open. I was enveloped in a bear hug and the gruff, big-brotherly voice I was longing to hear said into my ears – “Hey, you could have given me a call, at least. What if I was not home?”

In spite of myself, I felt all my anger, sorrow and trouble melt away as I replied – “I’d have done exactly that if I knew that there was even the slightest chance of you not being home for me. Ever.”

 

I: The Nightmare I Always Wished For

I had fallen asleep thinking about her. This, in itself, was nothing new. What was new, was that she wasn’t there when I reached Nayvair (the place I go to when everybody thinks I’m REM sleeping).

In fact, I stood in totally unfamiliar surroundings, something which hadn’t happened till date. I tried to wake up, and couldn’t. Also unprecedented.

Trying to control my rising panic, I looked around. I was on a rocky terrain, something like the Grand Canyon, leveled. A vast bed of rock with surprisingly little unevenness, sloping slightly up towards a buttress, seemingly small, in the distance. The sky was overcast with thunder clouds.

I felt inexorably drawn towards the hillock, and in no time, I was there.

It was no hillock. A giant sculpture of a Rishi in padmasana, exquisitely carved out of the red granite and looking very life-like. I wondered how I could have thought it to be small. Its eyes seemed to be looking directly at me.

“Three wishes.” A roaring voice in my mind.

“Who are you?” I shouted aloud, still looking at the eyes, which now seemed to be glinting with malicious intelligence. “And where am I?”

“Yes, it is I. Don’t ask questions. Time is running out. Three wishes.” The thunderous voice again.

“Why me? Why three wishes? And why is she not here?”

“You wish to know?” Had I imagined those huge eyebrows arching?

“Ye…no, leave it. Any three wishes?”

“Any three.” No, the cruel smile certainly wasn’t there on those stone lips a moment ago.

“Very well. I wish that she breaks up with her boyfriend.” Was this really me speaking?

“One.”

“She chooses me to be her confidante, the shoulder for her to cry on.” Was I this depraved? I could only pray for my soul as my dream self blurted out my darkest desires.

“Two.”

“I’ll keep the third wish for when the first two come true. Is that allowed?”

“That is allowed. Your will be done.” There was a sarcastic note to the booming voice which matched the twisted smile and cold, cruel look on that stone face. I stared at it while the thunderstorm broke down with its fury and I was engulfed by a maelstrom of darkness.

 

II: A Dream Come True

Now and then when I see her face

She takes me away to that special place

And if I stare too long

I’d probably break down and cry

When I woke up to someone ringing the bell at the door, I had forgotten all about the dream. So, it was with genuine pleasure unadulterated with guilt that I opened the door and welcomed her inside.

“Wow! Today’s sure going to be a great day. First day in decades that the first face I get to see on waking isn’t mine.” I grinned at her.

She gave me a faint smile and then collapsed into a sofa in the living room of our bungalow. “Would you do me a favour?”

Insensitive as I was to other people’s feelings, I knew something was definitely not right.

“Anything for you, dear. Want some cake?” Cake? Ouch. Someone has to brush up on his conversational skills here.

“Nah, thanks, though. Look, this is a pretty big favour I’m asking and I’ll understand…I mean, it’s perfectly okay if you say no.” The way she fidgeted with her kerchief while she talked, screamed that it wasn’t perfectly okay.

“Just say it, will you?” I was a bit concerned.

“Could…could you, please, tell mamma, if she asks you, that I had gone with you to the theatre yesterday night?” She was almost begging. “You know, I had gone with him to the disco, and I don’t want mamma to know that.”

I was shocked, to say the least. Call me conservative, prudish, old-fashioned, call me what you will, from far away if you are clever, but I was never the discothèque-bar-night-long-party type. Neither was she.

She correctly interpreted my look, shifted her eyes to her toes, and said, “Forget I said that. I never should’ve asked you in the first place. You couldn’t carry off a lie to save your life.” She gave a nervous laugh and rose to leave. God, she sounded so beautiful even this close to a breakdown.

I masked my expressions in a blink, jumped to her and sat her down again. “Why don’t you try me out? I can be very persuasive, you know.” I tried to squeeze out some humour from the situation. “I never believed you could be dragged down to the level of discs, even by him, you know.” Mock horror on my face. An unreadable look in hers, as she locks her eyes unto mine.

 She’s got eyes of the bluest skies

As if they thought of rain

I hate to look into those eyes

And see an ounce of pain

As she locks her eyes unto mine, I know that my humour certainly didn’t have the desired effect. She had almost reached breaking point.

I knelt down before her. “Just give me the details I need to know to sound real, what time we went, what we did, what we drank, etcetera.” It sounded so unfunny. “Forget what I asked. I don’t need to know about yesterday.

Effect, once again, the opposite of that intended. She broke down completely, tears washing her angelic face as she dissolved into sobs.

I was shaken. I had never known her lose control over her emotions, even when extremely annoyed. Just a few well-spoken words to convey her anger, then comforting the guilty party (yours faithfully in the case stated) with caring words. That was about it. And get it, I wasn’t even, like, her third best friend, just a bit closer than an acquaintance, maybe; which made this outburst even more frightening to me.

“We…we broke up, A. He told me he’d had enough of me. After all this time…enough of me, exact words he said…”

I looked into her dark blue eyes, seeking to find words to comfort her, instead was met by a maelstrom…

 

III: Day Dreamer

The rough terrain looked even more rugged now. Forks of lightning touched the majestic landscape in celestial salutes, followed by crashing thunder which melded into a venomous laughter all around me.

“Isn’t that what you wished for?” The voice in my head again. Of the stone-hearted Rishi meditating before me. Rishi, or a demon in his guise?

“The demons are within your head. How I appear to you is just a cognitive reflection of what you are.”

“I never wanted this, really, I didn’t want her to get hurt.” I pleaded.

“Well, you have already thought out the remedy too, isn’t it? You have a third wish. Wish that you become the man of her dreams and she lives happily ever after, with you. Go on. You are a natural performer, playing your part with absolute command.What are you afraid of?”

“Would…would she?”

“We won’t know until you wished for it, will we?”

“I…I don’t know. I need some time. Will I have some time?”

“You have all the time in the world, Dreamer. But she hasn’t. Decide what you want quickly.”

“A little time, please…” The world became a haze in the storm.

 

IV: The Third Wish

“…And he said that I was the worst mistake he had ever made in his life. Can you believe that, A? After all we went through together? Hell, I had gone to the disc, lying to my parents about it. I’ve never, ever lied to mamma or pops before, A. Never ever. All because I refused to drink. How ever did I deserve this?” She seemed so tired.

I tentatively touched her hands. She was still looking into my eyes, searching for an answer that wasn’t supposed to be there. This was my moment. She was looking at me as the support she needed at that moment. She would take whatever I said very seriously. I could damage the thin string that still held their relationship together.

“You, of all people, didn’t deserve this, dear.” There. I had started the process.

“But maybe you should give him just one more chance. Just one chance, to let him explain away all that happened. We guys you know, are all very headstrong, fighting for all the wrong reasons, hardly knowing what we want, ignoring or destroying what should be most precious to us in a moment of impulsiveness. But we aren’t that bad on the whole, you  know.” WHAT?

“He hasn’t even called me yet, after that. I hate him. He doesn’t even care about me, you know. Why should I give him another chance, if he should call?” A tiny bit of hope shined through her feigned vehemence. What would I have not given to have her love me that much?

I stood up, went over to the larger sofa where my guitar lay, picked it up and sat down, and started strumming a chord. Dmajor, in a down-downup-updown pattern, repeated twice. “Maybe he’s too ashamed too call you up. I certainly would have been if I made such an ass of myself. Wait for him to pick up his courage.” I couldn’t believe what I heard. Cadd9, down-downup-updown. Repeat twice. I was actually defending him. “I’d give anything not to be in his place when he calls you next.”

A smile had appeared on her face, the first rays of the sun breaking through a dark sky, the first breeze of spring wind dislodging snow from the dead trees. Gmajor, down-downup-updown, repeat twice. I could see that she was desperately trying to believe my words. Good. As the Rishi had said, I was a natural performer. Now for the master touch. The third wish. Back to Dmajor, down-updown-downup. Repeat twice.

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place

Where as a child I’d hide

And pray for the thunder and the rain

To quietly pass me by

I was back to the stormy world of my nightmare. Only it wasn’t so dark anymore.

“Your third wish?”

“Let everything be as it was between them before I made those stupid wishes. Let him call her up and apologize. Let her forgive him.” I said, trying hard to keep my voice stable and neutral.

“Are you sure? Can you bear to let her go away from you after coming this close? Because even if you do, they may not live happily ever after, you know. Human relations are the things that depend least on divine intervention, I’ve found. Your absurd heroics might be to no avail.” The voice defined cynical.

“One, no I am not sure. Two, but I have much more essential work than to ache my knees playing agony aunt to every silly little girl I know. Three, since she never was mine, the question of letting go does not arise. Four, a hero is, by definition, an idiot with no better work to do than to resolve other’s problems. I am just cleaning up the mess that I have made. Call it self-interest. Five, I don’t like the way your voice rumbles inside my head. So just do what I say and be gone from my dreams, haunt my nightmares no longer.” The last part with an elaborate flourish of my hand.

“Fine. It shall be as you wish for.” A belly laughter this time, so infectiously merry that I had to join in. The skies had cleared. The sculpture’s face now held a serene smile, and a contented far away gaze.

“You know, maybe you’re not as bad as you think you are. Just like the rest, you’re certainly not the worst, though you’re not the best.”

I managed to look scandalized. “How dare you?  I’m the best human being you’re ever likely to meet, you virtual piece of stone. And don’t misquote Floyd at me, that’s blasphemy. Just do your thing and go. I have a world, or two, to save.”

“Sure.” Booming laughter. “Your will be done.”

She’s got a smile that it seems to me

Reminds me of childhood memories

Where everything

Was as fresh as the bright blue sky

“Please. Twinkle twinkle little star? How could you?” I exclaimed, as her cell rang.

She blushed and threw a cushion at me. Then breaking into a broad grin, she whispered excitedly, “It’s him!”

“Of course it’s him. Just go ahead and pick up the phone. This ringtone is hurting my sensitivities.” I feigned indifference and expertly deflected the second cushion. “Oh, and get out of the house before you do so. I’ve had enough of your whining for today.” The third cushion hit me square on the face, followed in quick succession by the last.

She raced out of the house before I could even get up from the sofa. “Don’t forget what you are to tell mamma.” She yelled back at me as she ran away, the sun’s rays defying all known laws of nature to shine on her alone, darkening everything else around.

“I won’t.” I whispered.

_________________________________________________________

 

Apologies

1.    To Guns N’ Roses aficionados, don’t look at me like that, please. It makes me feel so guilty. I know the verses aren’t in order, but I had to put them where they fit. Very, very sorry.

2.   To guitarists, hey, give me some credit, I figured out those chords for myself. I know they are not accurate, but they sound good enough. To me. So scamper off before I set your tails on fire.

 

 

 

“Immortality, really! What a dreary thing to wish for!” I exclaimed.

“Oh? And what exactly would you wish for, were you granted that one wish?” P. asked, startling me.

No, it wasn’t actually the blinding brilliance of the question that startled me. It was just that I hadn’t heard her come into the room.

See, I have this rather exquisitely furnished room all to me at The Palace1.There are two guards stationed at the ends of the long corridor leading out from the room to the Winding Ways2 of The Palace. They announce nearly every visitor so that I get about five and a half minutes to prepare for whatever creature, or object was headed my way. I have a congenital dislike for nasty surprises before breakfast.

P., of course, had to be the exception.

“You know, just in case the beautifully designed brass knockers on my door are too heavy for you, you have been granted the gift of ten fingers with knuckles on them.” I grumbled.

“What’s your point?” P. asked.

“By an unfortunate series of totally unrelated and co-incidental events for which nobody can be held guilty, you know my point.” She had merited this tetchiness.

“Why let the minor problem, that I can read your mind, come in the way of a civilized conversation between us? Okay, I’ll knock before entering your room the next time. Happy now?” P. smiled.

“Yeah. Am positively struggling to stop my reservoir of mirth from brimming over. Isn’t this the seven hundred and thirty-fifth time you’ve promised me that?” I queried.

“Stop being such a baby and tell me what you would wish for.” Persistence, as always, the hallmark of greatness. And of P.

I had been reading the Ramayana, once again, you see. And I had just reached that part where Ravana asks Brahma for the boon of immortality, and is refused. This, somehow, had given me a brilliant idea. Which, like most of my brilliant ideas, was fundamentally flawed.

“Flawed? How?” P. once again invading my privacy. This time it was my mind, though. Far more intimate than my room.

“Stop that!” I burst out angrily.

P.’s smile evaporated rapidly and a film of tears formed over her eyes as she turned away, hurt, to leave my room. Damn. People couldn’t even afford to be angry nowadays if their privacy was encroached upon.

I leapt out of bed, and with another bound blocked her way. “Hey, don’t you dare to leave me crying. Both meanings intended.”

“What meanings?” She stopped.

“Figure them out for yourself. As I was saying, I have discovered, or rather invented, the most wonderful wish one could wish to wish for.”

“What…oh, right. What’s the wish?”

“Who’s the mind reader here?

I watched as P.’s hurt look slowly changed into a frown, then confusion, and then gave way to an expression of utter bewilderment. “Why don’t I know?” She asked, clearly surprised, and a bit frightened too, I could see.

“Don’t worry, it’s a little trick I figured out to protect my thoughts. Just checking if the theory could be put to practical use. Will explain it to you once I fully grasp it.” I said, trying to hide my ecstasy.

“Okay.” She was only slightly reassured. “The flaw?” She had, by now, stopped crying. Who says I’m not a PR egghead?

“Nobody to grant the wish, obviously.”

“Not even the Believer?” The smile had returned to her face.

“Nopes. This is a classic O-mighty-deity-grant-your-puny-devotee-a-boon scenario. The minimum apparatus required is a Santa Claus.”

“The problem with that is?”

“The problem with that is that dear ol’ Santa doesn’t exist.” I explained patiently.

“Says who?” P. arched her eyebrows.

“Says me and millions of other people, who, through the ages, have painstakingly gathered enough evidence not to believe…wait a moment…believe? Is that what you’re saying? I’ve got to make-believe3 a real Santa?” The penny dropped.

“Nah, wasn’t thinking of that. An interesting idea, though.” P. seemed thoughtful. The penny, which had recently dropped, leaped up, retracing its trajectory through my cognitive spaces in the reverse direction, and disappeared. And in a phenomenon which will continue to haunt the nightmares of physicists for the next millennium, the amount of entropy created by the fall of the penny, was restored as its potential energy.

“You mean you haven’t yet met the Saint of Clauses? Great, because today is his feast day, and the entire Hall4 will be at his residence. Come with me. He’ll surely grant the Believer’s one wish.” P. gave a bright smile.

Wow, I thought. If this works out, I’ll have the ultimate weapon that one could wish for.

As P. had unknowingly, but correctly stated, ‘The One Wish’.

The One Wish To Wish Them All.

—————————————————————————————-

1I am NOT calling it ‘The Palace’ without a reason. It was ‘The Palace’. You’ve got to hear about it from me one day. Remind me if I get a day off from saving the world.

2Same as above. ‘The Palace’ to be replaced by ‘Winding Ways’.

3For the uninitiated, ‘make-believe’ is a technical term indicating a P2C2E Grade 3 involving the creation of an object, organism, phenomenon, or internal/external effect by believing in it, and is the forte of the Believers. The placebo effect is a classic example.

4The Hall is the administrative organ, the second tier of the three tier system of Nayvair government. The Tower (legislature) and the Dungeon (judiciary) being the first and the third tiers, respectively.

“And that,” said P., “is the spinner.”
“Leg or off?” I asked?
“What?”
“Never mind. What does the spinner spin?” I asked, suppressing a bout of mad laughter that was trying to force its way out through my throat. I knew it would never do to break into hysterics again. After all, I had volunteered for this part. So why shalt I not do it properly, as the poet…never mind.
“Oh, all sorts. Webs, for a start. The finest in Nayvair. Excellent cotton too, on his loom. Balls, saucers, human heads. Has a knack for spinning yarns, hence our Official for the Subtle Remedy of Subjective Misconstruances and Communication of the Formidable Achievements of the Empire of the Flies. She grinned at my puzzled face, “or our PR person, if you prefer it that way.”
“Okies,” I said, trying to digest what I had learned. I peered at this Official for Subtle Thingummies.
A sinister looking chap, no doubt. I wondered how P.’s subjects believed…
“Him? It?” I asked aloud.
“Him. Though you have to take his word for it .No more than one spinner exists in one age…that is, as long as the spinner lives.
“Right.” The thing…Spinner, had entirely too many appendages for my liking, as he crouched down on the dark corner of his workshop, intent on something. His limbs were moving too fast for me to take a look at them. Though I hardly thought I wanted to probe further into this spinner thing.
“Oh no. He’s got only one hand, and sure knows how to use it. And I’ll kill you if you ask me how I know that, as I know you’re planning to.” P. smiled. It got on my nerves sometimes, the way this girl kept reading my mind.
I grunted, irritated. “So what’s he spinning now? A carpet?”
“Actually, no. Funny you’d ask that, though. I’ve been trying to get him make me a flying carpet for quite a while now. Only he hasn’t got the time. Or at least, he says so.” She frowned at the Spinner.
“Don’t avoid the question.”
“I wasn’t.” She said, annoyed. “What he’s doing now is what he is infamous for.” Here she lowered her voice to a sinister whisper-“He’s spelling!”
“Spelling? He’s spelling what?” I was utterly lost. As usual.
“Oh, by the Dog, you’re a lost case, A!” She exclaimed in an exasperated manner-“Spells, obviously! Spells, as in magic spells, mumbo jumbo, abracadabra, whatever!”
“Oh. Right.” My vocabulary firmly refused to expand-“Right.”
P. scrutinized me. “Say after me – the quick brown dog punched the majestically lazy fox.”
“Why should I?” I was bewildered.
“At least that’s better than ‘Right’! Thought you’d forgotten how to speak.” She smirked.
“Could we please cut the smart talk and just see whatever it…he…the Spinner is doing?” I interjected huffily.
“I would prefer not to disturb the spinner at his craft. One misplaced mark can cause massive disruption of the normal course of society.”
“What?”
“Yes. Like the time a spell was to be created, a spell of great cunning, to lure the plague rats out from the city Nilehampur. But the spinner was distracted by the raindrops pattering on the ceiling of his workshop, and suddenly, lo and behold, an even greater spell, of great power and beauty stood in front of the master craftsman. The spinner,”She added, correctly interpreting my blank look.
“And what happened then?” I asked, spellbound by the narrative.
“Oh, after completing its task, the spell went to the mayor and demanded payment for its labour. The Mayor and his Council tried to convince him that spells were not paid in mohurs, and could not be paid so. It wasn’t convinced by the argument. Irritated, it led all the children of the city to the Town Hall, entrancing them with its magick to make them tear it apart.”
“Tear it apart? A figure of speech, I hope?”
“No. The Town Hall was made of magicked cardboard. Not spelt, of course, or it couldn’t have been torn by children. The children were amused, anyway. In fact I think every one except the Mayor and his Council was. Something to do with how miserly the city council was, I s’pose.”
“And then?”
“And then nothing. Why must you keep on asking questions? The spell is still stored in the Jeans pool of the wielders and casters.”
“Gene pool, you mean.” I corrected her.
“No, doc. Jeans pool. It takes Spell reinforced double helically woven baskets of pure denim suspended in huge lakes of plasmapheresised protoplasm to store these spells.”
“Of course. I should have known. And who are these Wielders and Casters, may I have the pleasure of knowing?”
“Casters and wielders are, as their name rightly suggests, casters and wielders, respectively.”
“I figured out that much.” I muttered under my breath.
P. gave me a murderous glare. “They are the ones who can use the spells that the Spinner creates, and those which have been preserved by generations of Magi. Wielders can wield these weapons for a wide variety of purposes ranging from weaponry to window cleaners. The Casters put these spells on animate or inanimate objects with various intentions…”
“Which I need not know.” I interrupted.
“Which you need to, and will know in due course of time.” She finished.
“Right.” I said.
“Right.” For once, she agreed with me.
“You know, one of these days, if I do not cut you into little pieces by that time, I will surely start disbelieving all these things.” I professed.
“The technical term is, I believe, ‘unbelieving’. And you’d better not. We don’t want as missing spinner and an incomplete rogue spell on the loose.” P. retorted.
“Right.” I said, yet again, thus eloquently concluding our morning believing session.

I

“You are a Believer,” she said. It wasn’t a question, but I answered anyway.
“No, I am not. I am an atheist.” I said.
“What?” She seemed a little confused. “An atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of God…you know, the Supreme being who created us…”- I continued, noting her confusion.
“How can you not believe in someone who created you?” By now, she was positively bewildered.
“Ah…it’s rather a convoluted line of reasoning and I’d prefer not to bother the head of such a pretty creature as you with it, especially this fine spring morning, ye know, with the songbirds trilling romantic sonnets into the fresh spring air, and the like…” I trailed off, noting with satisfaction the flash of irritation that clouded the ‘pretty creature’s features. She certainly didn’t appreciate being called that, I thought smugly. “But do tell me why you mistook me for a believer.”
“I didn’t make any mistake. You are a believer, and the strongest one in the last three aeons.” She said confidently, gracing the words with an elegant, beautiful and highly patronizing smile.
“Oh yeah? And what, pray, is a believer?” I said, hoping she’d notice the sarcasm in my voice. I don’t take nicely to being patronized by little girls. (Technically, she wasn’t that little, about my age, I’d guess.)
She didn’t notice it. “A Believer is an individual wielding formidable powers, whereby the said individual can determine the existence or inexistence of an animate or inanimate object by focusing his cognate on its being, or non-being.” She finished, smiling pleasantly.
“Whoa! Like if I think you’re not here, you aren’t? And could you answer me in a language I can understand?”

II

I am never this rude to anyone. Especially if she was as pretty as the girl walking beside me. But this specimen had been bothering me for the last three days. I mean, it’s alright, in fact, simply cool to be eyed by a pretty lass. But this girl had been almost literally shadowing me. And finally she came up to me this morning, when I was returning from the barber’s.
“Excuse me, could I please take a few minutes of your time?” As nice as you could wish.
I knew I was in trouble then, since I’m not the kind of hunk ladies swoon over.
I don’t even look the part of an idiotic knight in shining armour, eagerly looking for more troubles (id est, damsels I distress). I made a brave defence, though-“Er, actually, I mean, like, I’m like in a kinda hurry, have-to-get-home-quick type hurry, so you see, like….” How much lamer can you get?
“I know, can I at least accompany you to Evelyn Lodge, Master A.?”
Well, I thought, she’s damned pretty, and she knows me anyway, so what price?
She, however, shattered my dreams of any r. talk. Spoke much, though, about parallel worlds, demons, mages, and such. I seriously thought about handing her over to the traffic police, more than once. And then she started all this believer stuff, and I knew not what to do, as the poet would have cried.

III

“But I thought you can communicate in English.” This, a bit confused again, but still smiling.
“Yes, but I communicate in spoken English, not the legal one you are using. Also, please wipe that inane grin off your face. It’s irritating me. Don’t act like you’re a princess or somethingy, when you’re not.”
“But I am a princess,” she said, clearly hurt.
“Yes, and I am dear old Prince Charming cleverly disguised as a particularly handsome specimen of Bufo bufo.” I was exasperated.
“No, you’re not. But you are really funny,” she broke into a tinkling laughter. “And you are a Believer.”
“Now listen here…” I tried to organize my thoughts. It wasn’t helping me that she really looked as beautiful as a fairytale princess.
“I am actually somewhat of a fairy princess I your world, you know.” She said, trying to suppress another bout of laughter. Damn it, could she read my mind as well?
“Of course I can. Now let’s have none of that.” She said in mock sternness, as I struggled to hide my fantasies about her that came out in the shock of this revelation.
“Could you explain why you were able to banish the demons that appeared in front of you last Thursday, if you’re not a Believer?” She arched her eyebrows.
A bolt of pure panic shot through me then. “How…how on earth do you know? It was j…just a hallucination, no more!”
“Or so you think,” she said, smugly.
“No, it cannot be! They don’t exist. You don’t exist!” I screamed in sudden fear, shutting my eyes tightly.
“Wait a moment! What do you think you’re…no…stop, please…listen to me…pleaseeeeee…”
The pleading voice faded away. I opened my eyes, just in time to see her disappearing. It was like watching the transparency of a 3-D image increase, till she became something of a faint multicoloured wisp of smoke before vanishing completely.
“Now, that was interesting,” I muttered, resuming my walk towards home, after making sure that nobody had heard me yelling. For some reason, I felt very tired. Utterly drained sort of feeling, if you know what I mean.
By now, it was pretty dark and quiet. ‘Cept the dusky light of the sky, and the birdies all cackling, of course.

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” – Oscar Wilde

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” – John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges

“I don’t need your civil war/ I don’t need one more war/ I don’t need one more war/ What’s so civil ’bout war anyway?” – Guns N’ Roses

“I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want – an adorable pancreas?” – Jean Kerr