The Polls

The polls.jpg

A warm morning sun shone into the courtyard of the school. The tree that stood in the centre of the courtyard came to life with the cries of birds. Shiva sat in the shade of the tree, hard at work on a thick rope that he was tying into an elaborate knot. He had been up and working for a long while already. He had set up a stage that now stood beside the tree. He had brought out chairs from the classrooms in the school and placed them in neat rows in front of the stage. As the school peon, it was his duty to set up the booth on election day and the stage on the counting day. It was also his duty to prepare for the results. He inspected the knot that he had tied, he pulled on the rope to make sure it held in the correct manner. He tied the loose end of the rope to the tree and hid the other end in a nook behind the trunk of the tree. No one liked to think of the rope before the results were announced. He inspected the stage one last time and went outside the courtyard to smoke a bidi before the counting began.

As the sun climbed in the sky, the courtyard was slowly filled with the buzz of the villagers gathered there. They greeted each other and sat in small groups among the school chairs exchanging news and gossip. The women sat to the right though there was no rule that they had to. Their whispers were loud but quickly suppressed like a bee caught in a bell jar. The men gathered to the left of the stage, they greeted each other loudly at first. But their conversations grew quieter, like a bullfrog that had grown tired of its own mating call. The children ran around the playground that they were so familiar with. They found it funny that they had to visit the school on a holiday and the empty classrooms rang with their shouts and laughter. By the time the appointed hour arrived the whole village had gathered in the school courtyard. Continue reading

Advertisements

The Cyclone

Mr. Rao saw the first dark clouds gather on the horizon and the waves rise as if to lick them. He pulled the plastic chair close to the balcony. His knees groaned as he made to sit in the chair and he plonked into it. “The cyclone ‘ekla’ will make landfall around midnight. Evacuation efforts are underway and most people along the east coast are being evacuated to shelters…” the news presenter told Mr.Rao from the television. Mr. Rao looked at the watch still ticking away on the wall, it told him the time was around six in the evening. He looked back at the black clouds rolling on the horizon, “take your time…” he told the cyclone.

Mr. Rao chuckled when he saw the first lightning streak through the clouds. The doorbell rang again. Neighbours perhaps or some official trying to ensure everyone had been vacated. Mr. Rao ignored it. “The cyclone is the strongest one to be recorded in more than half a century…” the news presenter was saying. Good Mr.Rao thought. The electricity was cut and the TV feel silent. “Now it’s just you and me…” Mr. Roa said to the storm.

It thundered in response.

Mr. Rao sat starting at the approaching clouds, he just wished he had something to chew on like a gumdrop, but they were all the way in the kitchen and he couldn’t bring himself to go there. But then his bladder groaned in protest. He sat there debating the urgency of it, until he had to push himself out of the chair and waddled to the restroom, his knees groaning in protest. The worst thing about old age, and there are so many, Mr. Roa thought is the number of times you have to use the restroom.

Continue reading

The toxic straight male virus

toxic straight male virus

“Sir, there is another individual here to see you about Avalon. Claims his…um apparatus is in working order” Jeffrey, my butler, announced as he placed my nightcap on the coffee table.

I paused the TV for the first time that day. I was watching a rerun of one of the seasons of my TV show “Style fails for the straight males’ from what seemed like a lifetime ago. I liked this particular episode, I had done a brilliant makeover for a mid-west truck driver if I do say so myself. And he had had the audacity to tell me Pocket squares were not a necessity in his line of work. It was memories like these that made me think that perhaps the epidemic was justified. I am sure this truck driver was amongst the first wave of victims claimed by the virus.

“Ehm…ehm..” Jeffery cleared his throat. Being a man good old Jeff had also fallen victim to the TSM virus, but had somehow managed to maintain his will to clean up and look after me, which was all for the best. But it did make one wonder which way the butler swung in such matters, not that that was a question that could be discussed obviously. I had simply placed him in that esoteric basket of asexuality, shuddered at the thought of it and moved on. Continue reading

Control experiment

anthony-rosa-799431-unsplash

She wakes up on a small mound of hay. She notices she is naked. Startled, she searches for her clothes. She is alone for now, in a small room.

She looks around, it is a strange room, the walls all look like they were moulded from one piece of a translucent plastic material. The ceiling looks like a lid, made from the same material. She walks around the room slowly with caution. The room is flooded in light, though she can’t see where it is coming from.  Just beside her hay, there is a large glass bottle hanging on the wall. It has a clear liquid in it, that can be sucked out of it from a steel dropper. Besides​ the bottle is a metal mesh cylinder, it is filled with a jelly-like substance, that is almost oozing out of the mesh, it has a strong artificial fruit smell, raspberry she guesses, she hates raspberries.

She walks to the other end of the plastic room. She can reach the other end in ten steps. She can cover the width of the room in five. She stifles a scream, though she doubts if anyone would hear her scream or care. No, she must not scream because she doesn’t want to give into the panic, she will not acknowledge the smallness of the space. On the other side is a small treadmill, it is built into the floor of the room. Beside it is a small steel commode. Everything is vigorously clean, sterile. She goes around the room several times, she touches everything, again and again, making sure it is solid. She keeps going around the room as if she walked long enough there would be more of it. After what seems like hours there isn’t any more of the room. She feels her breathing hasten, her blood is throbbing against her temple, her heart is beating in her ears, she cannot hold her panic anymore. “I am trapped,” she says to herself, “I am trapped…” as she runs around faster and faster she touches the hay, then the water bottle, then the treadmill, then the commode. Her vision blurs, hay, bottle, treadmill, commode. She wants to stop. Hay, bottle, treadmill, commode. This is making space seem smaller. Hay, bottle, treadmill, commode. She cannot stop. She slams against a wall and falls into the hay. Continue reading

You are late

you are late.jpg

“Ah, why am I late? Well, in fact, there is a very interesting story behind that. But, do you think we have the time of that now? Oh, we do, is it? We have time for a long story, but we don’t have time for me being late by a few minutes, is it? Ok, I see how it is. Well fine, I will tell you the story.

Long, long ago before there was anything, Father time had just begun seeing Mother space. They had decided to go on a date that day. This was before they had moved in together and Father time still lived at his own place. Father time was very different then, not the busy, bossy, no-fun time we know now. He was young and relaxed. He had flowing black hair that needed a lot of care to style. And so by the time he took a nice long shower, styled his hair, picked out his outfit, and reached the venue of their date Mother space had been waiting for what seemed a very long time to her.

“You are late!” She shouted when she saw Father time. Continue reading

#celestialmetoo

celestialmetoo.jpg

It was a moody Bangalore evening that could not decide if it felt too hot or too cold. I unzipped my jacket for the tenth time that evening as I approached the bar. I checked the location of my meeting again, it was supposed to be this bar. Maybe there was some mistake, I couldn’t imagine meeting my source in such a shady place. It wouldn’t be safe for her, I wasn’t even sure if it was safe for me.

“I am near the location, where are you?” I messaged her.

“I can see you. Please come inside…” her reply was prompt. I looked up at the windows of the bar lit with a dramatic blue colour, I couldn’t see anyone. Continue reading

The last wood nymph

andalucia-andaluia-237777-unsplash

Yesterday, the last square kilometer of forest on the earth was destroyed, to build a mall. It was sad on several levels, we humans were no longer people of the earth, what we were going to be we still did not know, but we were no longer of the land. It was sad but few people lamented the loss of the last bit of forest. Several people were happy because the new mall would be air conditioned and would have a casino. I was the saddest person though, contrary to what Bhoomi believes. She feels an immense sadness wrapped in her loss, but I also feel responsible for her sadness, because maybe indirectly but I have been responsible for it. Bhoomi was a wood nymph. Sadly that sentence ‘she was’ is grammatically correct. She was a legend to me in the days when I was surveying the forest for my company. Continue reading