Animal Farm #4

With masculine traits of the donkey,
And feminine traits of the horse,
A mule you are.

This is about an animal farm that I know of. Each of the below is a heartfelt tribute to four of my favorite animals of all time. It’s amazing how we see specimens of these in our daily lives. My friends at office will know who I’m alluding to here. This was written as a Facebook post after a particularly disappointing performance feedback discussion.

With masculine traits of the donkey,
And feminine traits of the horse,
A mule you are.
You dress like papa donkey,
But walk like mama horsey,
Ladylike, slow and graceful,
In the unforgettable manner that only a mule can.
You look like papa donkey,
But talk like mama horsey,
With feminine twists of the hand, and womanly pitches in voice,
Again in the remarkable way that only a mule can.
Lording over the farm,
It is a miracle you are where you are – at the top.
Intellect and reason are alien to you,
Sense and sensibility are unknown concepts to you.
You, born merely tens of years ago,
Have a mixed mind dating back a hundred years,
Much like your mixed gender itself.
With this criminal mind of yours,
You give the final verdict.
How you got to be the lord of the farm, I wonder,
All the hundreds of lives you control,
With your villainous mind, and senseless thought.
You gender confused mule,
Tussi great ho!

The biggest asshole of all, my Senior Manager at work.

Animal Farm #3

Rolling around in the mud of your own mindless imagination,
You perfect pig

This is about an animal farm that I know of. Each of the below is a heartfelt tribute to four of my favorite animals of all time. It’s amazing how we see specimens of these in our daily lives. My friends at office will know who I’m alluding to here. This was written as a Facebook post after a particularly disappointing performance feedback discussion.

Tiny feet, tiny tiptoes,
A narrow mind, a shallower intelligence quotient,
Tiny stature, but an overrated ego to behold!
Romping around the farm,
With your wiggling snout,
Squealing at everyone, heaving your potbelly around,
Pulling your seat up to look around,
Staring at every female with lust, hate, and distaste,
You little piggy, you who are equal to five little pigs,
Are a sore to the eye, and a pain in the ass!
Never a nice thing you can manage – to say,
Never a proper thing you can manage – to do,
With your itsy bitsy smile,
Pronouncing judgment on the lives you control,
Rolling around in the mud of your own mindless imagination,
You perfect pig,
Tussi great ho!

A Manager at work.

Animal Farm #2

Ever since hair has taken leave of you,
Sense has taken leave of your head too.

This is about an animal farm that I know of. Each of the below is a heartfelt tribute to four of my favorite animals of all time. It’s amazing how we see specimens of these in our daily lives. My friends at office will know who I’m alluding to here. This was written as a Facebook post after a particularly disappointing performance feedback discussion.

Long and flashing, beautiful and soft fur,
Was it not once your ticket to fame?
Alas, now, deprived of the same,
With all that is left, a few strands here and there,
You have only a bald pate to show.
The anger, the disappointment, the hurt,
It shows, it shows!
You, sorry little dog,
Ever since hair has taken leave of you,
Sense has taken leave of your head too.
Scratching your hairless head, walking silently around the farm,
You try to sniff around the lives and careers you control,
A dish on a dinner table, and a dirty parcel in the garbage,
Are they not the same to you?
How then, can you distinguish!
With no hair, and no sense,
You have no way to do justice.
You poor little doggy,
Tussi great ho!

Another Assistant Manager at work.

Animal Farm #1

Among the treetops, you whisper and you plot,
Great stories of crime, and punishment

This is about an animal farm that I know of. Each of the below is a heartfelt tribute to four of my favorite animals of all time. It’s amazing how we see specimens of these in our daily lives. My friends at office will know who I’m alluding to here. This was written as a Facebook post after a particularly disappointing performance feedback discussion.

Oh, you underrated giraffe!
You are awkward and lanky,
With your spots, your checks and stupid gaze,
Strange to behold and stranger still to talk with.
You do not flaunt your attributes,
And the farm knows you only as
Meek, mild, graceful, slow to speak…
Ha!
But the farm does not know, silly stupid farm,
That you have a viper entwined in that sleek neck of yours.
Among the treetops, you whisper and you plot,
Great stories of crime, and punishment,
The careers, the lives that you control,
How to twist them, how to turn them around,
How to screw them,
Not unlike your own twisted neck and mind.
The giraffe with the viper in its neck,
Tussi great ho!

My Assistant Manager at work. 

Growing Up – Part 3.

He could not make out the eyes in the dim light but could very well feel them penetrating him, raking out every secret he hid inside, including the most recent. It was the tilt, however that disturbed him the most.

It would be cliched to say that he would never forget the sight in front of his young eyes. It needs to be said, however. For it was so sudden, so unprecedented, that it warranted a rightful place among the frightful memories he would need to carry to his grave.

                       

It was a man sitting on a chair smoking a cigarette. Blue smoke billowing out of his partly gaping mouth and the roll of tobacco balanced in a frighteningly fashionable manner between his index and middle. The head slightly tilted to the side, adding a new and surreal dimension to the otherwise simple scene. He could not make out the eyes in the dim light but could very well feel them penetrating him, raking out every secret he hid inside, including the most recent. It was the tilt, however that disturbed him the most.

                       

The vision stayed clear for only a few seconds. It then inexplicably attained amoebic proportions and its contours started dancing about in front of our hero’s eyes, adding visual incomprehension to his existing misery. He blinked innocently to clear the vision and looked. When he was done with it, his vision bettered but something unexpected followed. His lashes were wet. Devastated, he immediately understood that he had inadvertently started to weep. He should have seen it coming. Of all the people! It was Enemy in front of him.

                       

Tongue and muscle tied as he was, he did not know how to proceed. He tried to skim through the mental instructions handed to him from Friend for any mention of the action expected to undertake in the case of human intervention, Enemy included. The search returned zero results.

                       

After letting the cigarette drop to the floor in a maddeningly slow and dramatic manner, Enemy used his left foot to kill it, using force, restrained, but every bit purposeful. An action, chilling to the eye. His index finger, then, made its way to roughly the center of his lips. A sign that its recipient understood well, for his own behavior had often in the past attracted the same bodily gesture from other distinguished index fingers. Though unrelenting to most earlier requests, this time he was happy to oblige. He stood unmoving without making a sound. Enemy next motioned him to come over. This time around, he did not obey immediately. Our hero stood his ground. He realized the step could spell doom. The requested action reminded him of the game of chess he had of late started to dominate at home. The Pawn. That piece, which operated with only measured steps and in only one direction. With no turning back, however, sticky the situation. He could draw the parallel easily. It still had to be done! Running away from what he had gotten into was a little too late now. He walked over to where Enemy sat and stood before him, bravely fighting back his tears but feeling tiny and utterly powerless.

                       

Enemy looked at him. His head was still tilted to the side. Anger and disappointment showed. Even in that unearthly light. Without saying a word, he asked him to attend to his teary eyes. Our hero, though momentarily disgraced at himself for having let someone watch him cry, decided it was not the time to indulge in personal liquid reflections and proceeded to remove all traces of water on and around his eyes. He followed it up with the tiniest of snorts he could manage given the situation and its need for silence.

                       

Feeling a lot less wet, he waited for the next instruction. None came. Enemy looked at him for a few seconds. After an elongated duel of staring, one in which our hero obviously lost, Enemy broke the tense air between them by jutting out his outstretched arm toward his younger opponent.

                       

A personal best ensued. It was the quickest reaction our hero had ever clocked. His hand was in and out of his pocket in dimensions of time so small they may not have been recorded yet. In, it went, wet with sweat, out, it came, cold with iron.

                       

The brand-new key was immediately whisked away by Enemy and put in his own pocket. It could not have been a few grams in weight. But having let go of it, our hero felt less heroic and supremely light. He breathed an almost hushed sigh of relief. There was still Enemy to reckon with, however. But having received the key, Enemy paid no more attention to our hero. He strode past him and approached the washroom that was our hero’s first foray into adulthood. Left alone now, with only traces of tobacco and tension hanging in the air, our hero didn’t exactly know what to do.

                       

Should he run for it? True, he had been caught, but Enemy had not made any move to retain him on the crime scene. He did not doubt for a minute that the trio on the ledge would be caught. It was apparent by now that Enemy had been waiting for them. And even if they did try to escape, he suspected people would be waiting for them downstairs. And if he himself tried to escape now, there was every chance those people would stop him as well. Weighing these limited options on his young head, he decided however that he should first try to get beyond the school walls to entertain any chance of living a peaceful life henceforth.

                       

From the room, down the stairs and onto the ground approaching the gate. He ran in a daze. He had a hunch that the gate would be open, and anyway was not all that interested in walls anymore nor in his capacity to climb them. His eyes stayed straight and so did his intent. Huffing, wishing to be back home, puffing, hoping to slither into his mother’s embrace, he ran like the wind. Luckily enough, the gate that he heard close about an hour back was open now and he ran out of the Convent land and onto the Government road. As he turned left and continued running, he could see that there was a deserted police van parked alongside the school. One which was missing when he first came by the school.

                       

The marathon continued and ended only after he had reached the foot of his stairs. His unwelcome appearance and the noise he brought with him was not received in an appreciative manner by the mother cat who had just coddled her kittens to sleep. Thanks to him, they were all agitated again and would require more coaxing. Our hero couldn’t care less. He was home again, unscathed for the time being. He slowly ascended the steps and reached home. He hardly heard his mother chastise him on aspects of his appearance, moss and all. She demanded a few answers but got none. Ordering him to go and bathe, she retired to the kitchen to apply the finishing touches to the meal for three.

                       

To cleanse himself of all external memoirs of the fateful day, our hero spent the better part of an hour rinsing himself clean of all the dirt. He wished he could have a cigarette while in the bath, especially on that day, but his mother would have none of it. Once done with the scrubbing and after some much needed quiet, he came out and dressed himself trying hard to look as normal as possible. But it did not escape his mind that the real test was ahead. He sat through the meal, not speaking at all, not lifting his head, only concentrating on the rice on his plate trying to think of nicer things than the ones he had had to face that evening. He was surprised to hear his father make a particularly critical comment on the contents of the meal that night and concluded that he seemed to be in a bad mood as well.

                       

His mother disposed of the plates and they washed their hands. He followed her into her room pleading for a cigarette. She was pleasantly surprised, maybe even shocked to see him display characteristics expected of his age, something that he never did before. She went to her purse and brought out two cigarettes and gave them to her loving son. He followed her still, holding onto her dress as they made their way to the Hall. He sat beside her and across him.

                       

Meanwhile, three fifteen-year-old student’s lives were forever tarnished after being caught trying to steal the Board Exam’s question papers. A weeping wife watched as her clerk husband was whisked away by the police on charges of assisting the students.

                       

He put one of the Phantom cigarettes in his pocket and started to suck on the other. Across the hall, he watched as his father started to puff away at one of his own “real” cigarettes.

                       

A nine-year-old had a mighty revelation. Of life and what little he knew of it. Of friends and enemies. He looked across the Hall at him. Our hero’s eyes started to water for the second time that night, a plea for forgiveness this time. His father, mysterious as always, just sat smoking, the tiny lethal cylinder poised fashionably between his index and middle in an all too familiar manner. And the unmistakable tilt of the head of course.

 

Short story written in August 2011.

Growing Up – Part 2.

He didn’t need to let his eyes get cozy with the bleakness inside to catch sight of a truly disturbing scene. A bout of trembling engulfed him.

His body, perched safely on his Friend’s shoulders and scaling the wall with him, our hero’s mind was in turmoil. His pastor at the church he went to every Sunday saw to it that none of his flock left the pews with even the slightest inclination towards anything immoral. Would this qualify as being against the statutes laid down by the man upstairs? True, his pastor had never specifically warned against scaling school walls. But given his own premature ability to imply and judge, he was moderately sure that his pastor would not have approved of it either. With these vessels of doubt sailing in his mind, he had now scaled the high wall and was on top of it. Friend deftly switched sides and they started descending. As our hero saw brick after brick go up and away from him as he descended, he came to the frightening conclusion that he was indeed, breaking the law.

               

Once they had descended from being mere boundary observers to actual trespassers and were cowering in the shadows of the inside wall, our hero wished to have a word. Things were happening too quickly, even for him. Sure, his adrenaline was pumping mad and he was excited. But he knew he was doing something wrong. He took a few seconds to compose a query and opened his mouth. Alas, nothing verbal came out, only short breath filled with raging doubts, not to mention faint distress. For the first time, his throat had let him down. It seemed to have gone dry and the only response he could muster from it was something between a chortle and a gulp. Those sounds from within the confines of his throat sparked off a realization, a gigantic moment of reckoning. This inaudible spurt of words was officially, his first brush with the emotion, Fear.

               

They moved along silently towards the building, careful to not make a sound. He held on tightly to whom he thought of to be his Friend, cursing himself for having signed on for the expedition. Once they had reached the building, they made their way around it again and settled on a corner that had a huge pipe running all along the wall’s length. Even in the dark, he could make out the moss thick on the pipe. This, however, would not deter the climbing party. They started on their second bout of climbing. This time, the ascent was that much harder and slower. The moss did not help matters, but owing to the large diameter of the school’s pipe and Friend’s intent, they made sticky but sure progress. The group alighted at the second landing.

               

Friend looked around for a minute and then sat next to our hero. He put his face next to his ears and spoke for a few seconds. He listened attentively, the attention borne more out of intense curiosity rather than eagerness. Curiosity flirting madly with a sense of dread. Once Friend had come to the end of the monologue, our hero took it all in and tightly closed his eyes. Pressing his lips together, he fought an urge rising from within. Fear was something he had encountered for the first time that night, and now it’s watery cousin wanted to join the party as well. ****! He would have used the four-letter word, only he had not yet heard of it.

               

The instructions were simple. The task at hand was not complicated either. But it was the frenzy his mind had gone into that was proving hard to put up with. He wished he knew what was at stake. Or even simply, what his hands were getting dirty with. Sadly, there wasn’t time and more importantly, a second-story ledge they were trespassing on was hardly the place to demand an explanation. With this brush of common sense washing over his agitated self, he prepared to plunge into the school’s interior and possibly his nightmare.

                 

His lithe frame was pushed unceremoniously through the vent, head first. Inside was blackness. He allowed for a few seconds to gather his wits and his eyes to accustom to the dark. Once he was done with the latter, he jumped onto the floor, still grappling with the former.

                 

As promised it was a washroom and the vent was thankfully not very high. He landed with a mild thud. Strangely it sounded like an accusing drumbeat to him, but then it could have been his heart beat. Leaving the acoustics behind, he made a foray for the door and opened it. The door had been sufficiently oiled, so there were no more sounds of accompaniment. He came out and closed the door carefully behind him. It was only after he had done that, that he looked at the “office room” of the school.

               

He didn’t need to let his eyes get cozy with the bleakness inside to catch sight of a truly disturbing scene. A bout of trembling engulfed him. You see, he wasn’t alone in the room. And one look at his occupant, he could tell, only one of them belonged there! And needless to say, our hero was looking at the one that belonged.

Growing Up – Part 1.

He had no equal. Arguably. But then, he hadn’t met anyone who had wished to argue with him in that respect, not yet.

He had no equal. Arguably. But then, he hadn’t met anyone who had wished to argue with him in that respect, not yet. Though reasonably assured of the fact, he was careful to not let it get to his round head. He knew he deserved respect from most quarters but wisely made no attempt to demand it. Whenever reverence came his way, he unabashedly received it, when it didn’t; he only made a mental note of the culprits involved. He knew it was only a matter of time on his side and realization on theirs.

           

He sucked on the cigarette, his last for the day, and embarked on a process of thought. Straight unflinching thought for a couple of minutes brought only the faint tinge of a crooked line on his young brow. Time on his hands, but no way to kill it. Though not established enough to wield a watch, he could nevertheless tell the time reasonably accurately. He relied on such signs as the luminous state of the lights in the opposite building, the portion of the store’s shutter that was suspended above the ground or even the hurry with which people were walking home. Now as he surveyed the area before him, he calculated roughly that he had about an hour left before the call of the domestic.

           

He let his arms rest on the wall before him, observing with controlled delight, that he could now look over it without much difficulty and just minor scraping of skin. He’d been genetically cheated and as a result, was short in stature. But thankfully age had done its bit. His eyes could now scale over the parapet of his terrace and at the world below him. A bird’s eye view of people and their theatrics. Letting his mind return one last time to the subject of height, he fancied he was endowed well enough to mount a reasonably high wall even. He decided that that was a satisfactory point to reach and searched for new morsels of thought.

           

He let his mind wander back to the events of the day. It tortured him to think of the precious hours wasted in that useless institution he was made to go to every morning, neatly dressed up and looking every bit a phony. It left him with only the portion of a day between the weather report of the 5 o’ clock news and the opening song of Surabhi, both on Doordarshan, to make forays into human nature. Hardly time enough but as gifted as he was and as eccentric the world beneath, he was learning every minute. He looked forward to the day when he would leave the domestic yoke, pick up the satchel of misadventure and head towards the uncharted territory that lies beyond, explore, experience and hopefully one day conquer.

           

He longed for another cigarette to chomp on, but sadly the ration for that day had ended. He knew it wasn’t all that good for him but he liked it between his fingers and absolutely loved it between his lips. He settled down for a minute of retrospection of the day’s highlights, but let it go with disdain halfway through the twentieth second. There was hardly anything of interest that had occurred and it was impractical to chew cud that had lost its flavor. He leaped up again and looked over the bustling street. The usual characters, the wiry old woman in her obsolete summer dress on the terrace diagonally opposite his, struggling to pick up and drink from cup after cup of what he believed to be sugarless tea. The lungi clad house husband in the next building, smoking his daily maal after having prepared the night’s dal, waiting for his wife, the breadwinner. As his eyes roved over the horizon, he spotted a person walking purposely on the street clutching a wad of papers.

 

Friend!

 

His heart leaped at the prospect of an audience with Friend. He loved Friend like an admirer would, was in awe of the fact that he seemed to know a bit about everything and was always in total unconditional agreement with Friend’s eagerness to share that assembled knowledge. Fascinating company, just what he precisely was looking for. His delight now was no longer measured.

           

He waved his arms and almost immediately caught Friend’s attention. Friend waved back, asking him to join him on that bustling stage of activity, the street. He bounded down the stairs leaping over the family of kittens playing sentry to the building at the foot of the stairs and joined Friend, all ears and slightly out of breath. Friend greeted him with a broad smile and “How would you like to do something for me today, something you would never forget for life”? Keeping with tradition, Friend had him clean bowled at first strike.

           

Without another word, Friend started walking away, knowing only too well that he would be followed. Our hero, as curious as the kitty he jumped over just moments ago, fought hard to keep up with Friend, both in the pace of his walk and in cognizance of the adventure that lay in front. The latter led him away from the familiar street and its surroundings. As the buildings on either side lost height as they went on, the sewer lining the street looked as if it was trying to compensate for the loss, widening itself and even pouring itself out at places. The poorer, shadier part of town. But it was here that lay the school, once the pride of the city, now known mostly for its impending structure and rowdy students. Established a good century back, the school was the lone reminder of the affluence that had once abounded in that part of the city. The bricks and mortar had stood as silent spectators, as the area around it crumbled in stature while the city itself spread its wings and grew in prosperity.

         

They ignored the gates and instead went around the formidable moat and finally stopped near the shrubbery that lay at the eastern end of the compound. Here, it was pitch dark save for the light that streamed in from the east block of the historic structure. In keeping with his age and the innocence that comes with it, he was left marveling at its vastness which looked intimidating at night, being visible only in silhouette. As he stood gaping at the structure, he was surprised to hear voices behind him. Turning around, he could see two of Friend’s associates. The three of them were speaking earnestly and in hushed tones. He didn’t remember seeing them when they had arrived at the spot. But he didn’t think too much of it. After all, it only added to the whole mystery of the episode and he didn’t mind it at all. He stood for a few minutes alone, halfway between the old brick wall standing mute and irresolute and the three young conspirators, agitated and ambitious. What were they up to? Was he going to witness something dramatic happen? He gave a slight shudder in anticipation of what was to come.

           

The deserted area was illuminated by the solitary light that shone from beyond the wall. Casting eerie shadows of the four people that stood on the other side. A few minutes later, the light went out and they were enveloped in near darkness. His compatriots ceased conversation and came to stand beside him. The quartet stood in line looking at the now dormant source of light. A couple of minutes later, a faint clanking sound was heard not too far away. The elder trio waited a further minute and then a flurry of activity ensued among them. They hurried towards the wall, Friend tugging along our hero and before his hero-ship knew what was happening, they had started climbing it.