All posts by Deepak

Chuck it out, India!

Disclaimer:
1. I am not trying to be patriotic here.
2. I am not trying to preach here.
3. All I’m trying to do here is to be honest.

I saw “Chak De India” yesterday. Too late to write about a movie which was released almost a month ago, you may say. But who said I’m going to write only about the movie? This post is about some of my musings after watching the movie.

The movie kept intruding into my thoughts for quite some time after I finished watching it, not allowing me to think clearly about anything else. This has happened so many times before, whenever I watched a movie which was educating or expressing. Entertaining movies, even when its storyline remains in memory, won’t haunt me like the other two. Haunt…it is literally the word which best expresses my feeling after watching the movie.

“Chak de” is the typical sports movie which is completely predictable, has several moments of adrelanin rush and where underdogs come out big. But more than that, it mentions (sometimes highlighting, sometimes as passing comments) several shortcomings of the wonder that is India, starting from the suppression of women, to the tepid acceptance of the people from peninsular India and the North East, to the media playing the devil and ruining one man’s life.

Two initial scenes struck a chord for me:
1. The scene where the North-Eastern girls, Mary and Molly ask “Does it ever feel good to live as guests in one’s own country?”
2. The scene where the guy comments that Tamil and Telugu are the same.

(RNI) RESIDENT NON-INDIANS
Now, feeling alienated in a place where you have spent your entire life, is not new to me. I am an Iyer, a person of Tamil ethnicity, but nevertheless a Keralite.
We are a small community of Tamil-speaking people who have been in Kerala for generations. (Like… from my great-great-great-great-great grandfather.)
We have been in Kerala our entire life, we have learnt Malayalam, we follow the culture of Kerala. We are in most rights Malayalees, with some added culture and customs of Tamil.
Yet we are neither accepted as Keralites in Kerala, nor as Tamilians in Tamil Nadu.
My Malayalee “friend” (or is he, really?) calls us “Paandi” (A not-so-nice term for a Tamilian), and say we don’t belong there. I can speak and write better Malayalam than him. I’ve often found it amusing when a shopkeeper tries to communicate with us in half-Tamil, even if we talk to him in fluent Malayalam, as if we didn’t know that language well.
Tamilians often make fun of the corrupted Tamil which we speak at home.
Some dudes/dudettes from our community call themselves KBCT (“Kerala Born Confused Tamilian” after “American Born Confused Desi”) just to show off that they are cool. (Or is it “kewl”?)

LIKE PEAS AND CARROTS
About the ignorance of North Indians about anything south, I guess the ignorance is mutual. We too don’t know much about North, except perhaps from the history books. But knowledge is not the factor here. You can get the knowledge any time. Many North Indians look at us with a kind of fascination as if we are some exotic people. I think this mostly is a resultant of the difficulty of South Indians to talk Hindi properly, which prevents a Northie and a Southie from mingling as much as two Northies do.

The casual questions that my colleagues ask me mostly pertain to:
1. How Kerala has a lot of Christian population
2. How come I don’t eat meat. They thought all Keralites were non-vegetarians.
3. A fascinated musing on the high literacy rate of Kerala.
4. Making fun of the heavily accented English of most Mallus.
5. Whether I know how to climb coconut trees (Duh!)

I myself have asked questions to Northies which might have sounded really stupid to them. I’m not blaming anyone here. I’m just wondering, and marveling at the sheer complexity of the Indian society. Like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump says. They really go together well, but not quite.

I learned the what and why of “Unity in diversity” in India in my history lessons. But I still don’t know the answer to the How! That’s why India is a miracle to me. All Indians are bonded in the eyes of an outsider, albeit being a very loose one, but inside, it’s just a mob.

PATRIOTIC PEOPLE
Few comments I heard from some friends and the media about the movie, almost made me laugh. The media and the vast majority of youngsters are just as predictable as the movie. For some, it was a movie that every patriotic Indian should watch. But for others, it was a movie made with the exact ingredients of a money-making movie. There was little or no third opinion.
These are the same people who have debates about India over a cup of coffee.
They can be broadly classified into two. One group, where people feel immensely proud to be an Indian, and show that only by sending SMS/Forwards which ask you to forward this to 10 people if you are a “true” Indian, blogging and proclaiming that you should watch this movie if you are a “true” Indian. I was one among them, posting once about a youtube video right here in this blog. I have moved on realizing that knowing your India is not enough, you should move your India forward.

The other group, think that India is going to the gutters, and there is no way they can stop it. So they should also live their life in the little time India has left to stay out of the gutters. Who the hell cares about India? They care only about themselves. I don’t even want to talk about this group. The reason is not their selfishness, but rather their pessimism about India.

Still, I wonder whether a patriot is someone who watches/reads about and relishes some patriotic deed done by characters in a movie.
I read a review which said that Chak de is a must watch for every patriotic Indian. What the hell does that exactly mean? How does a binary deed, that either you watched a movie or didn’t, dictate your Indianness?
While I completely agree that Chak de, or Rang De Basanti for that matter, will invigorate the love for your country in you, be honest in telling me how long does that vigor stand? One month? Or maybe two… Then after a hiatus, someone else again makes another movie, and again another round of discussions, blogs etc. go on babbling about how proud they are to be Indian.
I’m not blaming their pride. I’m blaming the ephemeral nature of their pride, which stays only in their words, and not their deeds.

People will now counter saying that this is as patriotic as a civilian can get. We can never be as good a fighter as those great people who took beatings and those who died for our country. But I’m not talking about fighting against corruption, black money and blah blah here. Those are strenuous territories to tackle. Rather, do something at the grassroots. There are much easier things that you…me…we can do, and be patriotic. A patriot (and this is not a wordweb definition) is someone who does something good for the country, or his society. And sending SMS/Forwards is not doing any good.

We can keep our surroundings, if not our city, clean. Even if it is not clean, don’t mess it up further, uttering that old engineer guy’s seemingly bright phrase, “infinity plus one is still infinity”. You can be the lone good guy in traffic without breaking traffic rules, even if it means you are taking more time to travel. A single person army cannot improve things by following rules. But do you know what it does? It will give you a sense of satisfaction that even if you’re not doing something great, you’re not worsening the situation. Does it do any good? Yes it does. Humans have this amazing nature of imitating others. After all, we were evolved from monkeys. What you do, your friends (whatever meager fraction it is) may start doing tomorrow, their friends on the day after that.

People who do these and more, are the everyday patriots. We have a fire inside us. We just have to sustain it with splinters. I can also say that you will get occasional fuel from movies.
All I wanted to convey here is that remember, talk your talk, and work your work in your India every day, instead of remembering only when “patriotic” films are released.
Now for the title. Apart from being a pun, I meant that we should chuck out our bullshitting, our bland talks and do something worthwhile, for our country. However minuscule it is, doesn’t matter. And if you got it inside you, go for better deeds.

JUST DO IT, INDIA

PS: Oh, and the movie… It’s good. Go watch it.

Wake up, Babble, Good Night

Whenever I start posting nowadays, I’m reminded of my friend K who was a king of sleeping in class.
There was one incident in college that is so mirthful that even today my ribs will be on the verge of cracking due to uncontrollable laughter, when I think of it.

In a particular lecture, K, being one who loved feigning attentiveness, was in the front row, center. I was somewhere in the second row in a corner. (because I didn’t get a seat in the prestigious LLB; (League of Last Benchers) I was too late) Midway through the class, I noticed that K was sleeping with his mouth open. (That too in the front row). It was amusing the way his head was bobbing, his hooked nose drawing doodles in thin air. After a few moments, gravity got the better of his subconscious head, and his head meandered too far to the front. He woke up, startled by the sudden jerk of his head. Then, to hide his embarrassment, he started making some fake calculations in air using his index finger. This was followed by an expression of comprehension of some higher realms of the concept being explained on the blackboard.
But before I could blink my eye, he was back into his slumber; his index finger had stopped in mid-calculation and was up in the air, pointing towards the blackboard. His head was bobbing back and forth once again. An uncontrollable fit of laughter erupted inside me. I tried to curb it, but hey, it was uncontrollable, wasn’t it? It resulted in a weird noise, which was more like an elephant’s trumpeting.
“Yes? You have any questions?”, asked the lecturer.
“No sir. It’s just my..er…cold.”

You might be asking what this has to do with my blog. My blog is quite like K, don’t you think? I go into hibernation, then suddenly a babble comes out as a post, then I again go into hibernation.

More Harry Potter

*SPOILER WARNING*
Courtesy: Blogging Harry Potter

Many of us found the epilogue of Deathly Hallows too vague and cheesy. It’s time for those of us to rejoice.
JK Rowling has revealed bits and pieces of info on the survivors of Deathly Hallows in an interview on the TODAY show.

Click on the link above to read those; be wary that it reveals some of the plot of Deathly Hallows.
She also said that she will probably write an encyclopedia with more details about her characters and the wizarding world.

The encyclopedia would include back stories of some characters which she had originally written, but had to cut down in the final manuscript (She once said, “I’ve said before that Dean Thomas had a much more interesting history than ever appeared in the books”).
Rowling also reveals the identity of the “reprieved” character in Deathly Hallows.

I’m so excited about the book right now. Rowling said she would take a break for some time before compiling the Encyclopedia. Royalties of the book will go to Comic Relief as it did for “Quidditch through the ages” and “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them”

Weird… or something like that!

This time, I got tagged twice separately with the same topic, in hope that I will get around my writer’s block. But little do they understand that it is not writer’s block, it is rather a blocked writer. (Courtesy: Sanjiv)

Now to the topic of the tag. No points for guessing what the tag is about. It is the one which is doing rounds in the world of blogs of late – 8 Weird things. Now I had already written another tag with 6 weird things. It really feels weird to write about more weird things. Can’t the guys who create these tags be a bit creative, rather than giving old wine in a new bottle?

Anyway, here are the rules:
1. Write 8 random/weird/habitual/crazy facts. (Why is it 8? Shouldn’t that be random too?)
2. Tag 8 other angels, and force them to stop doing productive work and start tagging in their blogs. In short, stop them from having the devil’s workshop. (I mean “an idle mind”)
3. Bully, Coax, Plead, Cry, Whine or Beat the pulp out of them so that they take up this tag.

Without much ado, here I go.

1. I encounter nail-biting moments way too often. I bite my nails when my hands are idle. It’s habitual, but I think it is getting better.
On a serious note, please don’t hesitate to shake hands whenever we meet. I really don’t bite nails as much as posted above. That was just for the effect.

2. I have attempted going to gym 3 times, and stopped within 2 weeks every time. Lack of determination! I’m sure it is! First in my college. Second in my company. The third time, I paid to go to a gym outside, thinking that spending some money for this will drive some sense into my skull. But I ended up wasting my money. Now I can’t pay 8 grand and go to Fitness One. What if I waste that also?

3. I have almost photographic memory of names (and faces, if they haven’t changed drastically from the time I last met them.) That means I can recall their name when I see a familiar face.
I am decent enough in remembering numbers (Telephone numbers and so on)
I am really bad in remembering dates. I scored my least amount of marks in History in my 10th when every one else was scoring cent percent. Two weeks back, my friend told me that we had completed 3 years of employment (we joined on the same day). I asked him, “Really?”

4. I had chats in GTalk with at least 6 people on 20th Friday, which consistently started with the following conversation. (It started to freak me out after the 4th person)

Person: for?
Me: Harry Potter
Person: ok!
Person: 🙂

The reason was that I had given my status message as “One more day!

The freak show continued on 23rd Monday, when I had my status as “Falling into a state of depression 🙁

At least 4 people asked me “why depression?” (I mean the exact same phrase). I replied, “Last HP book!”

5. I and my brother used to fight a lot over silly things when we were in school. Fights meaning fist fights. We had managed to hurt each other several times. I yanked his head once during a fight, resulting in a sprain on his neck which he carried for one week.
He has stabbed my palm with a pencil once and the lead got lodged into my palm. Had to go to the doctor to take it out. My right palm still carries the relic of that. The list goes on. My mom used to cry that none of her friends’ children were as violent as we were and that we had a lot to learn from them. We used to respond that they should come to us and learn how to fight properly. Mind you, the fights were always for the silliest of the reasons.
As time went by, it became wise for me not to engage in a duel with him, because he grew twice as big and strong as me.

6. I rarely wear shirts. I feel more comfortable in T-shirts and polo shirts. I normally wear only 2-3 shirts which I’m extremely fond of. That too will generally be on top of a T-shirt and unbuttoned. The last time I remember wearing a formal dress was 2 years back when I attended the interview for my current company.

7. I have this annoying (to the recipient) habit of correcting the pronunciation of words spoken by my friends/family at the most awkward moments. Some of my most favorite corrections are:
– tuition is pronounced “tooishun” not “tiushun”
– queen is pronounced “kween” not “kiun”
– coffee is pronounced “coffee”. The o should sound like “aw” and not like “ow” (Typical of Mallus)
– elite. It is not “elaite”..It is “eleet”

8. The proven method for me to fall asleep is read a book while lying in my bed. I will fall asleep within two pages of reading while I’m lying prone or on my back, no matter how interesting the book is. Even Harry Potter has not been able to be an exception to this.

Okay. That makes it 8. Now the tough part. Tagging 8 people.

Upasna – I want a change for a change. Write something funny.
Dev – He claims he doesn’t even log into Blogger for months. My attempt to break that claim.
Kandy – Let’s see the dark side of the cool guy… my classmate in engineering.
Sanjuz – Gathering dust now. I won’t let your irrational thoughts rest in peace so soon. GET UP!
Max – Another one gathering dust. All wasted writing skills.
Dharmu – Recent addition to my blogroll. Bindaas girl, from whatever little I know.
– 2 Open – All those who felt dejected that I let you down by not tagging you, grab your chance. (Pssst… I’m sure no one will take this 😀 )

On the quest of the Deathly Hallows

I’m falling into a state of depression. I can’t believe the last book of the Harry Potter series is out and I have already read it. I just can’t take the idea that I won’t get the chance to wait eagerly for the next book.

Being a faithful follower of Harry Potter, I won’t spoil any of the plots of the book. I thought I’d just mention how my day went on 21st Saturday.

I pre-ordered the book in the bookstore nearest to my apartment, obviously to reach home as soon as I bought the book and start reading the book. Unfortunately, the earliest opening time anywhere in Bangalore was 6 am. And, to my dismay, Crossword Indiranagar, where I was to get my book was to open only at 7 am.

So, me and KP decided to go at 6.15 am and wait outside the store. The others were not interested in Harry Potter. We left them to their pathetic life devoid of imaginations and fantasies. (Take no offence if you are reading this, guys, but your life is really pathetic, trying to spoil the plot to us with snapshots from a traitor which came on the internet on the previous day, and jeering and calling a spell casting as a mere stick rotation)
But typical to the nature of bachelors, we started off 15 minutes late. I was wearing my favorite Harry Potter T-shirt and shorts. By the time I parked my car near the shop, it was already crowded, with a queue of 30+ people. I felt a tiny bit of guilt for not showing my fidelity. I should have reached at 6. I should have been in the front.

That feeling faded away soon when the shop was opened and the first group of about 10 customers were let in. From then, it was a feeling of longing. A part of my brain even thought about gatecrashing, throwing the receipt to the counter, taking a book and running out. We couldn’t get in for another long 30 minutes.

I got the book, took a bookmark from the counter and started reading the book on the scene(until KP collected his copy and came outside). I was engrossed wholly in the book even as I walked towards my car. I heard someone call out, “Take your time, dude. You have all day to finish the book.” I grinned at the group of people sitting near the pavement, waiting for their turn to get inside.

We drove back, I parked my car in the most lopsided manner that could be possible and rushed to my apartment. I continued from where I had stopped. By 10.30, I had finished about 100 pages. KP, being a voracious reader, was thrice as fast as me. I skipped breakfast, and went for lunch only because I was really hungry. I even considered taking the book to the restaurant to read it while having dinner. I had already lost about 4 hours because I fell asleep afternoon after having a heavy lunch. Throughout the day, I was interrupted (to my great annoyance) by a number of phone calls. I never received so many phone calls in one day. It had to be this day! Sigh!

I finished the book at around 2am, had a quick browsing of the internet and started my reread. I won’t tell anything about the story, but I’d say this is one of the best books in the series ever. I’d say third best after GoF and PoA. The book is really fast-paced, and we are in the thick of the action from the first chapter itself.

Ecstatic though I am after knowing (or living, rather) how the saga ends, I also feel strangely depressed. It is as if someone has abandoned me in the muggle world and I don’t know the way to get back. My only hope remains in the two films that are remaining. Nevertheless, I can only feel grateful that I lived in the times of Harry Potter and Joanne Rowling.

Another ghost story

Thursday evening was pleasant. I was back from office early that day and was planning on going out. I decided to take an auto. I walked the small distance through the alley where my apartment was. My muscles were spraining; I should walk more often. I reached the main road. Oddly enough, it wore a deserted look. The velvety brown of the evening sky was already fading into the blue silhouette of the moonlight.
There were no vehicles or human beings, or even dogs (There will at least be 3 stray dogs per street in Bangalore) in sight.
‘Oh dear, will I have to walk till Airport Road now to get an auto?‘, my lazy legs complained and my mind translated it to English.
I uttered a non-verbal spell (well! I didn’t utter in strict sense since it was non-verbal) to summon an auto. Even I was surprised to see an auto coming almost immediately behind me. I waved to him to stop. He didn’t seem to notice and passed me. Then the auto screeched to a halt about 10 feet ahead. I ran towards the auto.
The driver had a frightened look in his face. He looked at me, then looked down towards my feet, then again looked at me.
I too looked at my own feet, just by instinct. What was wrong with my feet?
‘Elli hogbeku saar?’, (Where to, sir?) he asked, anxiety resonating in every syllable that came out.
‘KR Puram’
‘I’ll go through the main road, is it okay?’
‘Okay’, I replied, not understanding what he meant by the last statement. I didn’t know of any shortcuts or alleys to my destination.

I got in and he started moving. He didn’t speak anything till we reached 100ft road. The looming silence instantly changed into ear-shattering din. I heard something like a gasp of relief coming from the driver.

He turned his head when we had stopped at a traffic signal and asked something like, “Kannada maathadubeka?” (Do you speak Kannada?)
I understood what he meant and replied, “Kannada gothilla” (I don’t know Kannada)
“Hindi?”
“Oh. Hindi is okay”
[ Rest of the conversation was in Hindi, mostly a monologue. Translated to English. Everything in italics is whatever I thought, but didn’t say. ]
Driver: I almost escaped from that ghost today.
Me: What?
Driver: A ghost. She asked me for a ride. Said she will pay 200 rupees. Scared the shit out of me.
Me: *Oh really?*
Driver: She came in a car, said she wanted to go to ***** (I didn’t get the name of the place when he said it.) Offered to pay anything. These lady ghosts…once they enter our body, they will never leave us. Ask us all sorts of things. They won’t go until you die. You will be doomed.
Me: *Duh*
Driver: I just mustered enough courage to say No and get the hell out of there.
Me: Oh. Was that why you were driving so fast?
Driver: Obviously….She wanted to take me to a deserted place and possess me. After that, I would have no control over myself. I’ll lose my family and kids and will have to go after her. She won’t let me enjoy family life as I would have to satisfy her always.
Me: *[Evil grin]* You looked at my feet.
Driver: I was checking whether you were human; whether you had feet.
Me: Hehe. *Muhahahaha*
Driver: No sir, I was so freaked out. Really. In my village, we take special amulets and all from the priest. We are safe there. But there are no such safety precautions here in city.
Me: *All ghosts migrated to cities now. Yeah, I can see*
Driver: I think she was a Muslim ghost. That makes it even more difficult.
Me: Why so?
Driver: Because Hindu mantras won’t work on Muslim ghosts. You need Muslim mantras from Quran for those.
Me: *Boy! This is getting better and better*
Me: What did she look like? Was she wearing white saree?
Driver: I don’t know. She came in a car. Her hair was loose and wildly bushy. Her face was white.
Me: You mean fair skin?
Driver: No sir. It was white color. Like white paint was smeared. Only her eyes were brown.
Me: And she was driving a car.
Driver: Yes.

I suddenly remembered the ghost from the movie “The Ring”. Then the thought suddenly hit me squarely in my mind..like a 10-pin strike. It might just have been some ordinary lady who was careless enough to go out without removing her facial. The poor lady was mistaken for a ghost! Imagine her perplexed face when the driver had sped from her at breakneck speed!
Hell of a ghost story for me!!


I didn’t speak much for the rest of the journey. He was saying something, I just kept replying “Mm.Hmm”,”I see” etc. idly without listening to what he was saying.

We reached my destination. I checked the meter and gave him the money.
“One and a half meter charge, sir”
*Bloody hell! This guy had the nerves to ask for more money even in this condition.*
I argued, “What is the extra half for? Your ghost story?”

Terabithia and Imagination

I’m back with another post so soon! *BROAD GRIN*
Honestly, I thought that the chances of India winning the Cricket world cup was more than me posting once in a month. Thanks to some amazing blue-shirted superhumans (or subhumans), I’ll never ever have the doubt again.

I’ve been thinking about my blog of late. I realized that I’m confused about what to write. In fact, the only fact which I’m not confused about is that I’m confused about everything else. I was confused from the moment I created the punchline for my blog. That’s evident from the punchline itself. It’s always been cerebrations from my confounded mind. It’s always evoked laughter; either it was funny or it was so silly that you laughed at my plight. The only difference in the latter case was that the readers laughed away as they unsubscribed me from their feed reader thinking that this blog was a pile of crap. Because I see a steady dip in my readership of late. I think it is a vicious circle. A dip in readership makes me diffident and I don’t post often. That results in a further dip in reader count.
Anyway, instead of whining about this, I’ll write about something better.

The post actually starts here!
I remember I promised about several movie reviews long back. I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen. (Go on! I don’t mind you heaving a sigh of relief!)
It’s actually going to be about another movie (no..not a review), and how it reminded me of my childhood.
The movie is Bridge to Terabithia
When it was released, I tried to get tickets for that in PVR once, but they were sold out. Later, several of my friends said that it was pathetic and not worth watching. But being an avid lover of fantasy that I am, I couldn’t say no to a free show of the film yesterday.
My immediate response after the movie was over (It was just 1.5 hours) was “Yaaaawn!”
The movie indeed was not that good.
But all our senses are so deceptive. I couldn’t help thinking about the movie after watching it.
Then I started realizing that there was something different in the movie.
It is not the normal movie-ish story. Our mind is so corrupt that we expect stereotypes in “good movies”. And stereotypes are exactly what is missing in this movie. Even the bullies are not stereotypical.

The movie, simply put, asks you to keep an open mind and imagine…imagine as much as you can. It tells you that you can weave fantasy too. The way Lesley and Jesse imagine things up… I suddenly remembered all the fantasy which I created when I was a kid. I used to go to my dad’s ancestral house for summer vacations. It was a rural area with lots of paddy fields and more macadamized roads than asphalted ones. My grandmother and uncles used to live in the house which was surrounded by trees for about a mile in all directions. All were our land, with cultivation in a part of the land. I used to love the uncultivated land, because it was the best one to explore.

The protagonists in Terabithia swing across a river to woods, where their imaginary land of Terabithia starts. They have all wonderful creatures out there including a giant troll. (which, by the way, are an important ingredient in any fantasy! Sigh! I had enough of trolls)

Even I had a treehouse constructed atop a mango tree in my Terabithia. Although I didn’t imagine trolls and all, I imagined myself to be living atop trees (Don’t get the wrong idea now. I’m still human!)
My treehouse was a kind of outpost made of sheets of wood perched on the mango tree. There were multiple entries (I took a cue from the hideout of the Three Investigators). My uncle had made rope ladders with knots, or you could use the plain old way through the tree trunk. I even had ropes to swing like Tarzan. It was real fun. Everyday, I would climb the tree to my outpost and consider myself to be the guardian of the jungle, keeping vigil on everything around. My company was a small kitten whose name I don’t remember now. I used to make stories where little animals used to come to me with grievances and I, being a good ruler, give proper judgments and advices. I even used to invite my little brother atop, posing as a doctor treating his ailments. Everything was complete…even the background music which I hummed myself when I did something kingly.

I miss those days. This movie made me miss those days, which were forgotten till yesterday. It brought about a sense of nostalgia into me. The movie was not good from a reviewer’s perspective, but it was good from my perspective. It was a touching story.

I wish I had some good friend like Lesley in my childhood. I fell in love with Lesley and her Terabithia.

The Vanity of the Mind #3: The Redemption

The story so far…
Prologue
1. Anathema
2. A damsel in distress

The Redemption

He nears the house. He sees the door and the pitch darkness inside. The Black Hole. Only this time, the door looks circular. The black circle grows as it nears him. It moves towards his forehead.
He hears a cocking sound.

“BANG! You’re dead.”

He came back to his senses.
The lady was aiming the muzzle straight at his forehead. It was his own gun.
“What the…”

“Didn’t expect this, did you?”, she asked with a smile, “Didn’t expect me to be the anonymous assassin who is going to kill you.”
“But I was paid to kill you.”
“Don’t you get it? It was me who contacted your agency for this contract.”
“It was a trap, wasn’t it? A decoy so that you could get to me. But I praise your fortitude to plan my assassination with my own weapons.”
“I knew you are weak. A person doing this job should have no relationships. He should have no heart. You were so in love with me.”
“But why no weapons?”
“Oh come on! You would have known the moment if I’d carried any weapons. Besides, I wanted to prove that I’m the best in business.”
“So have you proved it?”
“I will, in due time.”
“Have you ever played Russian Roulette? How about playing it now? Too bad we don’t have a revolver. You hold the gun against…”
“SHUT UP! Don’t play games with me.”

The hitman laughed menacingly. She grew confused as her smile faded away.

“Good guess. I indeed was intending to play games. As a matter of fact, I did expect you to betray.”
He opened his left hand. The bullets were in his hand.

She pulled the trigger frantically.
CLICK
Nothing but the sound of metal hitting against metal.
CLICK, CLICK.
Nothing.

“Give the gun to me. I’ll teach you how to shoot.”
He grabbed the muzzle. She didn’t even resist. The cartridge was empty. It was a deadlock situation.

“How did you know?”, she asked.
“Our dialogue sounded like something straight out of a Sidney Sheldon novel. Sounded too trite to be honest.”
“Lets do something which is less of a cliche. Lets play Russian Roulette then”, she had to buy as much time as possible.
“Yeah. Lets.”
He pointed the gun on her forehead instead of his own.
His arced lips were becoming straight, “An assassin should never listen to her heart.”
She looked into his bared left hand. There were only three bullets.
She suddenly realised, “Shit!”

“BANG! You’re dead!”
The silencer served both the purposes.
It made a tranquil silence of the gunshot.
It silenced her.

The hitman opened the cartridge. There were 4 bullets in the lower slots. He put back the three bullets in hand into the top-most slots.

The lady lay in the linen-covered floor, an exact hole on the middle of her forehead.
It was over. He walked away with his paycheck.
The mind won the battle. The urban legend was redeemed.

Courtesy: Thanks to Sanjeev for the constructive criticism on the last chapter.

The Vanity of the Mind #2: A Damsel in Distress

The story so far…
Prologue
1. Anathema

A damsel in distress

He was pushed to the back seat of a helpless moderator who was about to witness a heated debate.
The heart and the mind were arguing. How could he not listen to either one of them?
The mind. Cunning manipulator.
The heart. Excruciating torturer.

He came back after quenching his thirst. But his thirst for an answer was still not quenched. The curtains were open and the soothing lights from the moon were falling inside. The warm doona was glowing bright white in the silhouette. Under that was a beautiful face, no less than the face of an angel, because it was glowing with twice the aura as the moon. His gaze quickly went again to his silenced pistol kept in the bedside table.

No.
NO..NO..
Please…No…I can’t do this…
I love her.

Did I really ever love any one? Did I really care about any one?
Do I know what love is?

All I know is that she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life..She is my sole solace from all the misdeeds I do.

Misdeeds? Or deeds? There is nothing wrong in taking life.

How can I take life when I can’t give life?

I don’t care. All I know is, this is what I’m good at and this is what I’m paid for.

But how can I? How dare I hurt such a person as her?

Because she asked me to.

What?

Don’t I know?

The world then zooms to an alternate reality…what has already happened!
The assassin and his lady love are conversing. The heart and the mind are watching.

Assassin: I didn’t expect you outside so soon. You like parties.
Lady: I like to be in your company for as long as I wish.
L: Care for a smoke?
A: No thanks.
L: As usual.
A: We should stop meeting like this; these chance encounters make me feel insecure about myself.
L: Chance encounters? Heh. You have been hiding so many things from me.
A: Like?
L: Like what you do for a living.
A: You never asked.
L: I didn’t because I didn’t want to know.
A: Very well.
L: But I found out nevertheless. I’ve seen you hide that pistol of yours inside your tuxedo.

The hitman frowns.

L: I’ve known that the one the world thinks as an Urban Legend, is the world for me.
A: Still you love me?
L: Yes.
A: Why?
L: Because I’ve seen a heart of gold in you.
A: But I have a mind of stone.
L: But I see your heart in your eyes whenever your eyes see me.
A: Look. I’ve tried to tell you several times, but faltered every time. You should stay away from me. It is not safe.
L: How can one stay away from one’s shadow?
A: I am the shadow of the people I kill. I cannot be with you.
L: Then kill me.

The assassin frowns again. How the hell did she know?

A: That is the stupidest statement I’ve heard in ages.

A cheshire cat grin comes on her face. He senses her signal. He leans forward. He feels her satin-like skin. They hear the song played in the background.
I swear by the moon and the stars in the sky
I swear like the shadow that’s by your side

They kiss.

The heart and the mind come back to the present.

That is just a passing statement. Not good enough a reason for killing her.

It’s not finished yet.

They zoom to another reality.

The assassin and the lady are in the bed. He is lying on his back, facing the ceiling. She is lying sideways, her head rested against her left arm. Her other hand is caressing his chin.

L: Do you love me?
A: I don’t know.
L: That’s one honest answer.
A: But you are the only human I care about in this earth.
L: Then why did you come here to kill me?
A: What?
L: I know you are here to kill me.
A: I di…
L: I’ve seen the concentration in your face today. Today is the day you are going to make another hit. I don’t mind it being me.
A: I don’t get it.
L: I’ve been running away from them for so long. They want me dead. I’m tired. Tired from running. You see. I’d rather die in your hands than from the bullets of an unknown person.
A: Are you not afraid?
L: Not when you are around. I only have one request. Hold me close to you until I die.

The assassin doesn’t know what to say. He can’t keep his eyelids open. He feels sleepy.
What is happening to me?
He wakes up in an unknown place. He walks across the street, but this time it looks a bit familiar…The road laid with stones. The medieval buildings. He is back in his dream.