Friday, September 18, 2009

Dead Worried

It has been four minutes since I died.

My wife sleeps next to what had been me, unaware of the corpse, which was once her husband that lies next to her.

She will be up in the next couple of hours. By habit, she will do her daily prayers and ablutions and set some tea on fire before coming back to wake me up.

Then I am afraid, all hell will break loose.

I hope God takes me away before this transpires. Nothing such has happened yet. I haven’t seen any light or any such thing. I am still here.

Formless and shapeless. Hopeful. Peaceful. Waiting.


One hour since death

My wife shifts slightly in her sleep. I want to reach out to her, hold her and comfort her. I want to tell her not to worry and that I am there for her.

I fear that she will awaken and ask for the bottle of water that always lies on my side of the bed.

We argued before going to bed last night – on some trivial issue. On lending some money to her cousin brother whom I never really liked. For someone who had taken voluntary retirement a few months back, it is difficult to take the liberty with money the way young people do.

My children take liberty with money. I have two sons. Both married, great jobs, on a high, and spending more than they should. I have tried to talk sense into them. They hear my ranting and respectfully ignore me. No one listens to an old man.

They take after me. I did not listen to my old man.

I married my wife against my fathers wishes. It was meant to be an arranged match. We had visited her house to see her. I, a London educated graduate, working with a bank in Bombay (as it as called then), was a price catch.

My father, a traditionalist with right wing leanings, would only settle for the best.

‘Best’ for him was defined by the size of my potential father in laws bank balance and his willingness to part with a large chunk of it in dowry. ‘Best’ was also defined by the colour of my potential wife’s skin. My father’s son had lived and dined with fair men and of course he had to have a fair wife.

The girl we have travelled to see that day did not qualify. It was a mistake. My father said he realised this the minute the taxi drew into the lower middle class suburb. He would have turned around right then if not for my uncle, who had recommended the match, and who had helped my father financially for my expensive education.

A grim father and an obedient son walked through an open door into a little house that announced aloud that it belonged to a mid-level government servant.

Sparse, minimalistic, functional and definitely not to my fathers taste.

We were greeted by many joyous, rotund relatives and a bald, sombre, humble father. The usual tiffin was served with laddoos wrestling with chaklis and chivda for space in the little plates brought out for each of us by rotound relatives.

“Where is the girls mother. Does she not have the courtesy to come and greet guests” my father whispered loudly to my uncle.

“She died when the girl was little”

“How can my son marry a girl that has not learnt the ways of women from her mother. Will she know how a good daughter in law is expected to conduct herself” my father must have thought. Thankfully he did not say it out loud.

The usual small talk followed with my father answering in monosyllables and sarcasm and I, Mr. London educated eligible commodity, cowered with timidity.

It was then, thankfully, that respite walked in the form of the eyes.

All I could see in her when she walked in were the eyes. She was all eyes and I was all eyes. Eyes met. Eyes spoke. Eyes explored. Eyes questioned. Eyes answered. Eyes were loving and tender and laced with dew. Eyes walked gracefully and sat opposite me. Eyes were bashful. Eyes were shy. Eyes were confident. Eyes told stories that no one else but me could see. Eyes hypnotised. I levitated.

Eyes could melt ice.

I melted.

The obedient son/slave of the father now enslaved by a vision seen through those eyes.

Vision of the eyes beholding me, tempting me and seducing me while I made tender love, each night, to the possessor of the eyes. A vision of them looking over me, lovingly, each morning while I slept. Eyes that would warn me of harm, comfort me in despair, guide me through life, and direct me when I wandered.

Eyes named Nethra.

While I was all eyes my father saw things differently. Nethra was dark and she was talkative and she was opinionated and her father did not own a bank.

My father walked out of the house in ten minutes. I followed meekly.

My soul stayed back and lingered.

For a month more I saw more girls than there were days. I saw all kinds. I found an excuse for them all.

My father was growing increasingly impatient and agitated.

I had to act.

I did.

When I wasn’t working or visiting sundry potential wives, I started frequenting the area where she lived.

Thank God I smoked.

Thank God I bought my cigarettes from a corner-store while I awaited the eyes to walk around the corner. On the eighth day they did. They walked into the store to buy bread and milk. Thank god for stores in India that stock and sell everything.

“Oh! Hello”

“Ha.. Hi” (I think I had farted out of shock.)

“What are you doing here”

“Nothing much. Had come to see a friend who stays close by. He is not at home so I thought I will wait here for him”

“Smoking is injurious to health”

“There are other things that are killing me right now”. (Shit. What did I say. I wanted to chew on the burning cigarette and make a hole in my tongue. Idiot. I was. I am.)

Giggle. (Oooh! She is soo cute.) “What???”

“No. Nothing. So you come to this store often” (Yeah. What a great conversationalist I am)

“Yes. We have an account here. So we pay at the end of the month. I come here every morning after I visit the market”

“What time??” (What an idiot. Go slow idiot.)

Giggle. (Please don’t do that… don’t giggle... It is doing things to me that you cant imagine) “Between 9:30 and 10:30”

Shit! Shit, Shit Shit…. I am at work at that time.

From the next day, I got to work two hours late each morning. Some in my office thought that my father was ailing. Others thought it was my mother.

And then it started. The wheel started turning and I could not bring myself to stop it.

I had to tell my father.

I did.

And all hell broke loose.

Then I broke loose.

We eloped. We got married at a temple with only a few friends of mine representing both the groom and the bride. Not, by far, the proper Indian wedding circus.

I also knew that I had to get out of the city. My father was friends with some right wing politicians (goons) and I knew his ego was bigger than his love for me. Another day and all the grime in the city would be hunting for us.

I took a friend’s old battered Fiat, most of his money and whatever little I had saved and drove out of the city. My heart beating a drum each time we passed a check-post.

We left the car with my friend’s uncle in Ahmedabad and took a train to Delhi. From Delhi we travelled aimlessly in cheap government busses.

I remember the first time we made love. In a bus stand lavatory at Gorakhpur. I know. It isn’t romantic. But we were on the move and too scared to stay for the night in any one place. We were young and our hormones got the better of us. And so in a foul smelling ladies lavatory at an isolated government bus stand, the newly wed couple consummated their marriage for the first time.

We travelled further up and I started breathing again only after we reached Sunauli, a border town in Nepal. We travelled further up to Kathmandu and stayed there, blissfully, in bed, for two months, till the money was nearly over. Then it was back to Bombay.

Back in Bombay, I realised that I had lost my job.

My father got me the job and my father took it away. He had not forgotten and he would never forgive. Thankfully he had accepted that what had occurred could not be undone.

The first few years still rankle. We stayed in a friend’s apartment until I found a low paying job in a textile mill. We then moved into a one-room ‘chawl’ in Byculla.

From Byculla, I rebuilt my life. I managed to find another job in a bank and in time, life blessed us with two sons, a larger house and reasonable prosperity.

My father never spoke to me till he died. My mother died a few months after I eloped. I would like to believe that she was probably tortured to death by my father for bringing a wretch like me into this world. Into his world.

I have never grieved for them.

I was too busy playing prisoner to the eyes.

I have been imprisoned for life.

Now even death has failed to secure a release.

And it is two hours since I died and its is time for her to wake up.


Two hours since death

I worry for her. Who would believe that the soul (or am I a ghost) worries after death. But I do. I wonder how she will live her life now that I am gone. I am not sure if she knows where I keep all my documents and information. She has never had to pay a bill by herself. She has never wanted to know how much money I have saved or about the insurance or the investments. I have never told her much.

My children lead their own lives. They live separately. They lead busy lives. They have no time for our middle aged bones. They do visit occasionally but I don’t think that they would be comfortable having their mother stay with them.

She doesn't even bloody take her medicines on time. She spent her entire life looking after me and the children and with time she has forgotten herself completely. Her health has been failing in recent years. She has diabetes and high blood pressure.

I took voluntary retirement only to take care of her. And since then she is completely reliant on me. She eats when I eat and I have to cajole her to take her medicines. She had become my baby for the second time in our lives. We were planning to go on a pilgrimage up north. I had booked our tickets last week. Our second road trip.

But now I am FUCKING dead.

And I have waited for two fucking hours for God to take me. To Release me.

And I have come to realise that there is no God.

79 comments:

Atrisa said...

Oh Mindey why such a sad story all of a sudden? It seems like it will have a continuation part...

But one thing is for sure; you are fascinated by farts and smelly places :P Good job (with the story, not with giving us visuals of foul odor!)

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Atrisa

I did not intend to write a sad story... It lead me..

@ Fascination for farts and smelly places... naah not fascinated... but 1) it is an unusual reaction and 2) any place is a good place for many who ain't privileged or in this case pushed by life

If you did not get visuals.. I failed :-) I promise to make up next time...

Arslan said...

Brilliantly done!!! The first meeting was the best part (isn't it always?)

Started off like Pamuk's 'My name is Red'. Read it?

I was a follower, now I'm a fan! :)

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Arslan...

Thank you mate...

I have read Pamuk's Red... and loved it... and now that you have pointed it out... yes... I think I subconsciously was inspired by the book... at the start and the dead man talking

manisha said...

loved the entire narrative esp the meet where you smoke:)

and the start is bang on!!!! the lines "its been four minutes..."...i was like what!!

and the para about the eyes.....its just awesome!!!really loved it...not even a minute to fall in love.....

the narrative is good tooo:)

As the Mind Meanders said...

Thank You Manisha... really appreciate it...

Nikki said...

You know this is happening very often now! Every time I visit your blog you have some thing new!

Did I say the post was brilliant? Awesome!

As the Mind Meanders said...

Thank You Nikki... and I am looking forward to a post from you...

Roy said...

Do din ki mulaakat me kabhi, saathi koi banta to nahi, kehte hai jisko pyaar sabhi, ek tarfa hota hi nahi


lovely story though!

Shanu said...

Wow..u write really really well!

u shld write more often..and dont give me raags abt writers block...no writer wit ne kinda block can write sumthin as awesome as this!

As the Mind Meanders said...

Roy bhai...

Shayari samaj mein nahin aayi... par irada nek laga...

Thank You

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Shanu

That means I had blocked the writer out for some time...

Thank you for the encouragement mate... needed it...

mentalie said...

somehow, i kept thinking he'd wake up in the end. you tell a gripping tale, AMM.

Grayquill said...

Once again you gave us some great writing and a great story. I liked the insight into your culture – harsh! The husband doing everything happens in this culture also but not nearly as much as in times past.
The argument over the deadbeat cousin was excellent. And, the kids wasting money, no one listening to the papa, all were great!
You are very talented!

ani_aset said...

nice story, and brings out the frustration..has touched upon some very strong issues :) i dont know if that was intentional

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Mentalie

I thought so too when I started writing... but in the end it would be too corny to make him wake up from a dream...

and thank you...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Grayquill

Thank you... parents worry... we all know that... they aren't always right... we know that too... the grow old and are ignored... that is something we know and ignore and something that I cant prescribe to..

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Ani

Thanks bro... but which issues are you referring to..

Extremity said...

ATMM- wat do i say? usually i skip lengthy posts.but not this one.a whole life reeled out..career,ups,downs,family,love,marriage,kids,oldage..everythng..very poignant.i loved it.totally.but y wanted u to b the dead man speaking? :(

ah! my name is red! i...didn..read ..it..yet...even after informing abt the might-be-helpful-to-fathom site **sigh**

buttercup said...

very unusual n unexpected i ges i shud say...

It reminded me too of My Name is Red.

Does the soul really worry like this really..I wonder!!

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Extremity

A dead man speaking is more interesting than a man alive and cribbing :-)

And it wasn't me yaar... it was the character in first person... I am alive and well and I wont haunt ya... :-)

My Name is red... I recommend very strongly... only if you can stand lengthy books... and read the Alchemy of Desire too...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Buttercup

I dunno... I have never met a soul... I would like to believe that most people haven't... so I took some creative liberty... I do hope it entertained ya or got ya thinking...

Cheers :-)

Thousif Raza said...

Damn man, kaha se kaha chale gaye haan. i felt it really....... is it true??? cause i could so much visualize it, starting may lil boring but caught on till the end, and i must say i liked it, i liked it a lot, bring more of these mate bring em on :)


by the way kaha the aap?, still gotta see you at my blog


take care and keep writing..........

agent green glass said...

oh dude. brilliant. and this is not just a ya great post brilliant. this is one of the best pieces of fiction i've read on a blog ever brilliant.

bellisimo! *AGG makes smacking sounds*

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Thousif Bhai

LOl

Kya karun yaar... likhna shuru karta hun to kuch dimaag me hota hai.. khatam karta hun to kuch aur nikhal jaata hai...

And I come to your blog every time you write something...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ AGG

When I get appreciation from you... I start levitating...

I am currently two feet above the ground... :-D

Vinz said...

ENjoyed to the core...
Well written mate..!!

:)

As the Mind Meanders said...

Thank you Vinz

Meghana Naidu said...

i liked the narrative, the style of course! its the kind i like the best :)
and you did quite splendid in keeping me hooked.
and the concept of the "soul" realising there is no release(read God) in death. wonderful!
there is a feeling of to be continued but im guessing this is it.
it works better for me without much explanation

Good Job :)

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Dear Ms. Naidu

Glad to have you back blogging and happy to see you back on my blog...

Really thrilled that you liked the dead man...

Keep writing mate...

ani_aset said...

aaah now i know it wasnt intentional :) well it touches upon the typical mentality of going for fair girls and also no space for love :D

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Ani

Those are things that bother me often Ani... so they make an appearance unknowingly....

R S V said...

Hey, visit my blog http://rahulsharmaspeaks.blogspot.com/
there is something waiting for you :)
Hope you like it:)
I will definitely read your blog after some time..

Choco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Choco

Suddenly the world seems a much brighter place and I know I am gonna have a smashing Sunday now...

dunno why...

Maybe because you are wailing...

Dont start missing the smelly weirdness... I will write something soon... and dedicate it to you

:D :D :D

Choco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Choco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Choco

Smileys... naah.. then my blog will look like Candid Talk...

And we all know there is only one Candid Talk out there...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Choco...

Ahem... positive influence and change... is good...

Pesto Sauce said...

After a real long time, a lengthy post has kept me engrossed till the end

Don't know what inspired you for this, but it is dumdaar stuff

Shanu said...

@ Choco and Mindey

Aww my buddies..cho chweet...!
**Khushi ke aanshun***

Mindey i agree..the wrld is brighter agn! :)

Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Choco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
This is that said...

Nice story..very powerful...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Pesto

Thanks bro... I read your blog and I am dead sure you have stories like this in you too... try and write one...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Shanu

Fully Filmi....

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Choco...

What glasses... thank God you have your sight back :D

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ This is That

Thank you... and please write more often...

blunt edges said...

brilliant post Mr.Mind...the idea of a man worrying after his death is very very unique! :D

my 3 fav parts:
1. the title
2. the 1st line
3. the last line (the best one)

n just out of curiosity...why wasn't "eyes" called "naina"??? ***snigger*** wonder if choco n shanu r reading this :P

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Blunt Bhaiya

Because I don't have a death wish...

And yes they will read this sooner or later...

Meghana Naidu said...

Feels absolutely brilliant to be back :)

BTW

oooooo! sniggers, pretty names and death wishes.
what's brewing mate!
;)

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Meghana

Its good to have you back!

How I wish... The only thing that was brewing though was a little story... thats on the blog now...

And you liked the name, didn't you??? We can Rechristen and address you as Nethra from now... if you want :D

Meghana Naidu said...

Hahaha!rrrrright! *rolls eyes*

i think certain specific people might have objection to that so why don't i direct them here and then you'll can work it out between yourselves
:D

(death wishes
*snort*)

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Meghana

You named Kempamma... and for that I will forever owe you :D (psst...I don't mean it)

And I am willing to brave death if you want the name :D :D (is that corny enough...)

And then no one wants the name Meghana... Its yours for the taking...

Meghana Naidu said...

1)i meant 'certain people' connected to me not you ;)
2)You do owe me for Kempamma!
3)erm, i never wanted the name O_O
4)You dare dishonour the High Queen and defile her name! Prepare to die!

ha ha!

Anita :) said...

OMG what an amazing write up..! Like I was watching a video..! I loved the part you described her eyes. I read that para over and over :-)

As the Mind Meanders said...

@Anita

I am mighty pleased that you liked it Anita...

Small Miracle said...

It started out as a song I heard recently on radio...i am am thinkin OH NO!! Then its takes a brilliant turn of its own. Good stuff!!

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Small Miracle

Thank You... happy you liked it...

rebecca said...

I'm supposed to be studying right now. Instead, I am here being held totally captive by your story. Your narrative was well constructed and well done. Excellent. I don't read many stories like this on blogs so its uniqueness stands out. I can't say enough. *I am now clapping and giving you a standing ovation*

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Rebecca

And I am levitating after this compliment

Thank You. I hope I manage to write more stuff to keep you interested

Thank you again

Tongue Trip said...

first time i was bowled over by your pick of favourite movies, very very especially Mard (and i know you dont dig it just for bordering-on effeminacy-shabbir's-so-fucking not-imitating-Rafi style of singing). the second time is now, boy, this is the ultimate potpourri of emotions,a tear jerker waan waan this moment and you had me giggling and squirming my nose at this and that the next.ok, what's eerie is its realism, bet the very last hair of my eyebrows, this ones not come out of pure fancy .enough, i said too much. tata!

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Scentless Tongue-ji

You so DONT know me lady...

I loooove the "MARD tangge-wala.. main hoon MARD tangge-wala" song... and it wouldnt be the same without Shabbir bhais 'emphatic' singing...

:D :D

AND

I swear by the very last hair of YOUR eyebrows... I am not dead yet... its purely a flight of fancy :-)

Tongue Trip said...

no!!! it goes more like mardey tangey walley mein hun mardey tangey walluh muzey dishmann kya maregey mere doestey uuuuparey walley hehhehehee

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ The tongue

I am downloading that song NOW

:D

bliss said...

whoa!!! that was one piece of story. i read first line and i cudnt stop it!!!!! man, u r amazing!!! great job, buddy!! that was awesome.. your words were absolutely alive, unlike the person speaking here, ofcourse!!but that was, for the sec time, awesome!!!!!

gkam said...

"I was too busy playing prisoner to the eyes.

I have been imprisoned for life.

Now even death has failed to secure a release."


Very very nice word play...
Also the conversation part with Nethra.

Kept me hooked throughout even though m juggling with multiple blog tabs here...

Loved it overall..

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Bliss

Thank you...

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Gkam

Thank you mate.. juggling multiple blog tabs... multitasking???

And I love your blog template...

Paritosh said...

Wow!! That was something I would love to read again and again. Brilliant, I would say!!

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Paritosh

Thank you mate... glad you liked it

Dreaming Eyes said...

Do i need to say "BRILLIANT" work..:)

take care..

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Dream

Thank You... Thank You :D

Sangitha said...

Ur narration is juz 'mind' boggling yaa!! ;-)
The story reminded me of the movie Ghost.But ur way of narration is what stands apart.. Hats off to u..!! *claps claps* I feel as if i saw the story reeling in front of my eyes..!!
I liked those lines in which u described 'the eyes'.. Eyes..eyes..eyes.. Wow! Wow! Wow! :P

Peter Ferrao said...

Very well written. I am a fan now

K?K! said...

sorrow...
that is not the last thing I wanted to read before i go to bed. but that is just what i did right now.
that the story touched me and brought me to put my finger on "sorrow", is evidence that it was well written, a simple choice of words. i understood them all.

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ Peter

Thank you

As the Mind Meanders said...

@ K?K

Glad you liked it...

although... what does the ? stand for.. I hope it aint R :D

Meghana Naidu said...

this is my *IT*story. nothing can rival this, for now at least,
ill tell you when a new story of yours does that

.