Monday, September 21, 2009

Kya jaanoon sajan?...

I have incidentally never discussed music on my blog, and apart from this one, I do have a few other posts in my mind, which I might publish subject to availability of time!

Through this post, I want to express my unsurpassed admiration for one song--'Kya janoon sajan'. Apart from having a most hauntingly painful melody, what I like the best about this song is its sensitive, yet teasing lyrics. This song has my favorite lyrics of all the Bollywood songs that I know of.

So, I'll be largely discussing the lyrics of this song, and my interpretation of them. I'll be giving a very literal English translation of the song, so no wonder, the lyrics will sound weird! ;) Also, since I've heard more often the newer version of the song from the movie--"Dil vil Pyaar vyaar", so would be discussing here the verses in the same sequence as in the newer version, in which the order of stanzas has been changed.

क्या जानूं सजन | Kyaa jaanoon saja | What do I know
होती है क्या ग़म की श्याम |Hoti hai kya gham ki shyaam | What is a dusk of despair
जल उठे सौ दिए | jal uthe sau diye | A hundred lamps got lit up
जब लिया तेरा नाम... | jab liya tera naam... | When I uttered your name...

I believe the above stanza is quite self-explanatory!

जब से मिली नज़र | Jab se milee nazar | Since when we had exchanged glances
माथे पे बन गए | maathe pe ban gaye | have become on my forehead
बिंदिया नयन तेरे | Bindiya nayan tere | Bindi (click) your eyes
देखो सजाना | Dekho sajana | Oh see, my dear!

Since, your eyes have fallen on me, your love has become a constant presence in my conscious, and just like a Bindi can be made out by any onlooker!

धर ली जो प्यार से | Dhar li jo pyaar se | When you had held with love
मेरी कलाइयां | Meri kalaaiyaan | My wrists
पिया, तेरी उंगलियाँ | Piya, teri ungaliyaan | Dear, your fingers
हो गई कंगना | Ho gaee kanganaa | Have become bracelet

Beloved, since when you had held my hand, I can constantly feel your presence in everything I do, though not restraining me in any way.

Kya janoon sajan...


काँटों में मैं खड़ी | Kaanton mein main khadi | Standing in thorns
नैनों के द्वार पे | Nainon ke dwaar pe | At the threshold of my eyes
निसदिन बहार के | Nis din bahaar ke | Every day, of spring
देखूं सपने | Dekhoon sapne | Do I watch dreams

Standing in a barren land (that is, without anyone's love), among thorns (eyelashes?), I dream of spring (your love) with utmost eagerness (at the threshold of eyes--indicating the eagerness of wait?)

The following lines are most ambiguous and difficult to interpret because of a very unusual kind of inversion:

चेहरे की धूल क्या | Chehre ki dhool kya | The dust on my face [1]
चंदा की चांदनी | Chanda ki chaandni | The radiance of Moon [2]
उतरी तो रह गई | Utari to reh gayi | Persisted, when dropped off [3]
मुख पे अपनी | Mukh pe apni | On my face [4]

The ambiguity arises because line 3 can be associated with either 1 or 2.

Clubbing 3 with 1 gives:

The moment the dust on my face dropped off, the radiance of Moon was left on my face. This can be interpreted to mean, that " O' beloved, the moment I stopped looking at my barren surroundings and thought about you, my entire being had become a reflection of, and my face reflected your radiance."

Clubbing 3 and 2 gives:

"O' beloved, the moment I stopped mooning over you, I realized my stark reality, and my entire being was covered in the thirst that the desert around has come to represent--the dust that settled on my face."

By the way, another blogger had done a post on her interpretation of this song here (click).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sequel to My Post 'Do I deserve pink chaddis?'--Guest post by Sioneve

This is actually a guest post by Sioneve. We had a small blanter (blog+banter) here (click)

She had promised to do a small story on how my conversation with my kids would turn out if one of them ended up like the girl in my post--'Do I deserve pink chaddis?' (click).

So well, here goes the imaginary conversation:


Ketan speaking to SON about Pink Chaddis, over breakfast…the expected converstaion:

Son: [sing-song voice] Good morning dad! What a lovely day! Do you like the new outfit I designed in fashion school?? Isn’t it FABULOUS. It is supposed to capture the freshness of Spring – you see the side vents gape to allow fresh air to get in and circulate around inside my clothes and also freshen up my chaddis at the same time!! No pools of sweat building up!! And the chaddis have to be pink because I think that is the freshest colour in Spring!!

K: [thinks: AAAAARRRGGGHHH!!] Hmmmm. Son, as I havwe said many times, I respect your fashion design capabilities greatly. However, I think that if you go out dressed like that, people may not respect you and I would be very sad if you lost respect.

Son: Oh Dad! Don’t be so square! I am an ARTIST! I do not care WHAT people think. All artists are avante garde! We have to be because we are at the cutting edge! We decide what happens, BEFORE it happens! Get hip Dad!

K: No Son – realy – I care about you very deeply and am trying to give you my best advice. It is painful to be laughed at! Plus I have seen fashion designers like Giorgio Armani – he always dresses respectfully in navy shirts and slacks – you never see his chaddis sticking out like yours – pools of sweat or not!!

Son: But Dad – all my friends dress like this! Its who we are! Armani is SO yesterday! We are the voice of tomorrow!

K: Okay. I have tried to reason with you but you will not listen. So I have no choice but to tell you to march right back into your room and reconsider your dressing choices! While you live under my roof, you follow some codes of decorum!

Son: Awww DAD!!! It’s not fair!! [Pouts and marches off to room. Slams door].


NOW…This is how such a thing should be handled…(purely facetious)…

Son: [sing-song voice] Good morning dad! What a lovely day! Do you like the new outfit I designed in fashion school?? Isn’t it FABULOUS. It is supposed to capture the freshness of Spring – you see the side vents gape to allow fresh air to get in and circulate around inside my clothes and also freshen up my chaddis at the same time!! No pools of sweat building up!! And the chaddis have to be pink because I think that is the freshest colour in Spring!!

K: [thinks, if you can't beat them, then join them and beat them at their own game!!!] What a DIVINE outfit (high pitched squeal). I was just thinking son, we don’t do enough things together! I would like to join you in your fashion….may I borrow one of your outfits and we can go out together!!

Son: [thinks, ARRRRGGGHHHH!!] Oh, Dad no! I was thinking that you look so elegant in your Armani suit! Why change a classic??

K: No, seriously – because I want to hang out with you and be cool and properly aerated!!

Son: Okay Dad! You are right! We should do more together! Why don’t I wear my Armani suit and join YOU!!

K: Oh son…you would do that for me?? Isn’t it asking too much for you to give up your FABULOUS fashion??

Son: No! No! I want to make a new fashion statement – conservative is back!!!

K: [smiles sweetly!]


Thanks, Sioneve a lot! This was truly a lovely post! Thanks for giving me such premature tips on parenting! I'll follow them as soon as I suffer from ventriculomegaly, or broadmindedness, in other words! Or till, I have a son, whichever is later!

Disclaimer to my SON wherever he be: See, it's only my decorum that's keeping me from stating the obvious truth here that I won't be half as broadminded as portrayed in even the first version of our conversation! Say hello! to Sioneve auntie! Okay, now if you want such ventilatory chaddis, just see how broadminded I am (click)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Favorite Blogs-II: Updated on 14th September, 2009

I had been thinking of updating this post since long, but unfortunately, could not find sufficient time. I'm retaining all the original blogs, and would be highlighting the newly added ones with bold and underlined numbering. But what worries me is that almost all the blogs, except one that I had included in my list the last time have become dormant! I hope that does not happen with the current crop of blogs. Though this list might seem pretty large, actually the number of blogs I'm enlisting is very small, because I'm sure I must have not gone through less than 1000 blogs in this much time. So, well my selection ratio still stands at more stringent than 1 in 50! There a few blogs I do not even go through, if I find their bloggers' comments too frivolous, shallow and insincere very frequently. So, am I trying to imply that I'm some sort of master judge of blogs and their bloggers, and that is is a privilege for some blogger to find their blog on this list? No, just that this post and the above statistics are my way of letting them know, that as far as my blog-life goes (which has incidentally become a very important portion of my 'real life'), I value them a lot. Rest of what follows is my old post and the updates.

Also, I am sure, I cannot do justice to what the individual blogs and bloggers stand for. Each blog is an amalgamation of ideas, words and emotions that go into evolution of any blog. And no doubt, they also stand for the person that the blogger is. Best way to read this post, of course, is to click on the links that I provide. :)


As time passes, a few more might be added to the list.

Except for the first one, sequence in which I mention blogs bear no relation with the degree to which I admire them/their blog.

1. GS' Beats by G. Saimikundhan. I had come across this blog when I was experiencing a weird kind of low. A low I can't completely explain. A low of how the world is full of people I can't remotely respect, and could easily hold in contempt. Totally bereft of people I could look up to. And in midst of such low, did I come across this blog. I had felt an instant connection. As if I would never need to explain myself. And everything I speak would be taken exactly as what was meant to be conveyed. The posts are products of such honesty, such clarity, intelligence and boldness, that I had actually thought, how this person fit my criteria for worship (click) when I had ironically declared how it might be impossible that I ever come across such a person!

When I'd finished my post on worship, I felt, the simplest thing I'd tell to one I worship would be "Wow! You exist!". And that's what I'd even today like to tell Saimukundhan. Thanks for being there!

With a few more exchanges, I found a few differences in our opinion and outlook, which have something to do with my being (maybe) more cynical, and I felt Saimukundhan has maybe something to learn about this world (which I've already learned!), and well he was dropped from that mental pedestal, but not far below, just ever so slightly. Some might feel, I admired him only till his views were identical to mine, but no that's not the case. I have admired him, and still do, for providing me with a few answers that I did not have.

But that's not all. Every post will make you think. And if you're in no mood to think, he also has some of the whackiest posts for you.

2. A Mother's A Musings... by Newbie Mommy. A blog that had just awed me, especially my writing nonskills(!) Replete with emotions--all true and genuine, wisdom, humor, wit, regrets, hopes. It was like meeting a person and not merely reading a blog. Again, I felt an instant connection. Things like needless modesty and circuitous explanations had become total nonissues. Though I wish Newbie Mommy would deliver more often :) I mean the posts. ;)

3. Mad Medicine: A Dr's dose of mayhem by Dr. S. Dr. S is a community doctor in South Africa. She has a very witty style of writing--mostly dealing with experiences at her extremely busy and taxing community practice. Her blogs span a very wide spectrum of human emotions, from witty, sarcastic, insane to most poignantly emotionally wrecking that have left me speechless. How she maintains her commitment to her practice, and preserves sympathy for her patients are matters of wonder. And I truly admire her for that

4. Frustration is just the beginning of medicine by deluded. A blog by a medical student who can easily surprise you by putting a most insanely intelligently humorous blog one day, and insanely emotional, the next.

5. Life - Just this and that by Just Me. This blog was a total surprise. Discovering it was nothing less than discovering a treasure; neglected treasure, if I may, and nothing less than a serendipity. I might end up doing injustice to her ability to write in various forms by venturing to state that her specialty is poetry. But then, that's what had impressed me the most about her blog. Poetry. She writes effortless poetry. The effort of juggling words around is never visible, maybe she doesn't need to juggle around. All the aspects--construct, poetic effects, meaning and content--come together to form nothing less than poetic monuments.

6. I loved three men called Pablo. by Tangled up in blue.... A blog I discovered very recently, and yet am including it in this list must be sufficient to convey how impressed I am with her writing. Oh yes, by the way, Tangled up in blue... is a medical student. Her blog has it all--poetry, stories, diary-like entries(!) and analytical posts touching upon issues of philosophical, political and social importance. Not to mention, her rich vocabulary, making me seek assistance of dictionary not too infrequently ;)

7. On The River Bank by Manu Sebastian. Manu is a law student! This blog is a collection of short stories. And, at an age of just 20, Manu has learned so much about people, the human nature, their interactions, their dreams, aspirations, their predicaments, their foolish confident convictions. And these wonderful characters, apart from existing in his stories, interact in mundane to most unusual circumstances. I see signs of a great writer in making. Or shall I say, a writer well made, and not recognized for many reasons, not in the least, one being distraction by his studies!


8. A Monk In Hot Water by Bullshee. Bullshee's posts are one of the most hilarious I've read on the blogosphere. The adeptness with which he moves from the philosophical to the outrightly nonsensical is totally awe-inspiring. Also, his English is one of the finest I've seen among Indian bloggers. But, if you will take enough effort to go through his most of the posts, you'll realize, behind that frivolous facade resides a mind that has been enriched by a wide variety of experiences, and inundated by most honest doubts about people and life. And he, also has answers to few of them!

9. ANONYMOUS LIFE by Sioneve. This is a blog I'd discovered just about two weeks back. Sioneve largely chronicles her life as an immigrant child staying in Australia. Her posts (or snapshots as she calls them) describe the events that have stayed with her into her adulthood. The various struggles of trying to fit in the new society, and the pressures exerted by her parents to make her conform to their idea of a 'good girl' are truly evocative. I love the fact that she does not try to force emotions into her experiences, not trying to extract sympathy. The 12 year-old-girl that she is now on her blog is most endearing. You can actually feel you're growing up with a girl withstanding her intelligence, and the painful understanding about the world that it brings with it, serving as catalyst for her growing up too fast.

10. Blessed Be This Nightmare by Kapila Pande. Kapila is not very active in blogging these days. Her specialty according to me is irreverent sarcasm and ridiculing of things she does not like. But there's one more thing that had totally impressed me--her poetry. The vivid imagery, and the symbolism she is able to incorporate in it!

One of her linguistic experiments that had showed really striking results was to combine urban lingua franca with archaic words. Well, no doubt, my analysis cannot do justice to the wonder that her writing is! So, enjoy!

11. Blogus Innominata by mgeek. Mgeek is a very intelligent blogger coming up with many ideas that would fall in the domain of lateral thinking. When I use this term lateral thinking, it is not with an intent of ridicule, but rather indicates a certain comfort that clarity of one's perceptions of the concerned phenomena gives rise to. Without this comfort, no one can come up with coherent ideas not thought before by others. And he does that with some regularity. Again, constrained by his busy life, his blog-life is not very active. But I would recommend the readers to try to go through a list of blogs labeled 'Good Ones' in his blog's sidebar.

12. Short fiction and long opinion by John Matthew. John's blog consists largely of Short Memorable Stories (SMS), and some essays outlining his take on various aspects of life, people and India.

His stories fall in that genre of mystical. They are abrupt, totally unpredictable, and follow their own system of logic. But a logic, indeed they follow. His essays are very perspicuous, reflecting five decades of having lived in this world, and silently observing everything.

13. Located in Dubai but Heart in India by Rakesh. Rakesh, as the title of his blog states, is still rooted in India, and this his posts clearly show. In some ways, he is more connected to India that even me! Most of his posts deal with the small, funny, smile-inducing things in his life and family. Occasionally though, he does come up with his peeves on how India is turning out. But the most interesting aspect of his blog is his replies that follow.

14. Narcissist by Sowmya. This is one of the most fiercely individualistic blogs that I've found on the blgosphere. By which I mean, of all the posts that I have gone through, not a single fellow human being from her life finds a mention! Sowmya has this amazing ability to transform sights, sounds, and everything that goes into making a shower of sensations an experience, into words and pictures. Her posts make you feel you're taking a walk on a winding path along with her thoughts!

She is very well-read, and some of her posts are reviews of books and lyrics she had liked.

15. RAIN by Rohith Ramdas. Rohith is the finest fiction writer I have seen on the entire blogosphere. He is just six posts old as I write this, and yet, I'm totally mesmerized by his writing!

He has a total way with words. His vast vocabulary is awe-inspiring. But more important, the characters in his fiction can be any random person--you or me! Well, that's only about recognizing the traces of common people we find all around in what he writes. The way he injects reality into his characters makes the reader wonder if it is fiction they are reading or some of their own experience they are recalling! His honest commentary on the state of the world masquerading as symbolism is most elegant.

16. [Insert a new name every fortnight] :P by [Insert another new name every fortnight, but one week out of phase with the 'other' fortnight] :P But for simplicity, you could call her Garima Dipti :P. Garima is really good at dissecting complex human actions into the individual emotions that drive them. And what impresses me in her posts is the detailed imagery. What is commendable about her weave of words is that they try to capture the domain of fantasy. Things that do not exist in 'our' world, and yet, she makes them sound believable.

Occasionally, of course, she comes up with ramblings of her own (entertaining-for-the-reader-but-not-so-much-for-herself) life!

17. The Little Ranting Reptile and Other Stories.... by Stupidosaur. Stupidosaur is easily the most intelligent person (lizard??) I've known in my entire life--both online and offline. I will not be exaggerating if I state that I feel lucky to have got to interact with him to whatever little degree I could through his posts, and his comments on mine.

It seems weird to say this so prematurely, but again to whatever degree I know him, he is only the second blogger I know who comes close to my idea of worship (click) because he fulfills some of the criteria there!

Okay, let me not ramble about what I think about him. His blog consists of small observations of everyday events in his life. What makes his posts wonderful is the clarity with which he makes those observations, and ease with which he twists words, logic, and churns out conclusions that are irresistibly delicious to smile at. Sometimes, of course, he makes very keen and surprisingly accurate observations about us, human beings!

The thoroughness with which he resolves phenomena into component driving forces has left me agape on too many occasions.

Of course, many readers would not be able to make out that some of his posts and comments make slanted references to our own lives, but even for them, his play with words would be most entertaining.

18. The Quirky Indian by Quirky Indian. A blog with some of the funniest observations about Indians. Just like how he has stated on his blog, his being dispassionate as against blindly nationalist, makes him observe things about India with utmost honesty, which have resulted in some of the most thought-provoking posts as to where does India stand as a nation and is headed. Mind you, if my description makes his blog seem uninviting, that's entirely my inability of conveying how wonderful his blog is. It's most entertaining, guaranteed!

19. Tumultuous Suspension by Tumultuous Suspension. Tumultuous Suspension is an astute observer of life and people. Her posts are a culmination of her emotions and wisdom working in concert.

Her blog has a variety of posts--poetry, memoirs, and observations in her own life, and the lessons she learned from them dressed really well as funny, nonsensical musings.

Rationalist/Analytical Blogs.

Some of the above bloggers are atheist/skeptics, but am including the following blogs as a separate category for one simple reason that they deal almost exclusively with issues integrally connected to religion, dogma and rationalism. Wonderful writers, no doubt these bloggers are, but by neglecting to touch upon their own personal lives or other aspects, the scope of their blogs becomes somewhat narrow for those interested in merely lighter topics. Though, I truly wish they start writing on other lines, too.

1. Atheism: Proving The Negative by Matt McCormick. This blog is a very systematic compilation of almost all the possible arguments for and against theism. Posts also deal with social, political and economic implications of religiosity. The reader will also find some interesting experiments related largely to human psychology. He is a Professor of Philosophy.

2. Nitwit Nastik by Nitwit Nastik. A good compilation of articles related to atheism, religious extremism, superstition. Basically, everything rationalist. Some articles will also increase the reader's general knowledge, in particular, popular science.

3. The Man on the Couch by The Couch Clown. This is a budding blog, with lot of potential. The blogger, a law student has a very incisive writing style and meticulous dissection of complex issues who has up till now largely dealt with issues relevant to irrationality in India. Hope to see more frequent posts from him.

Last updated on: 24th June, 2009 (click)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Figures of Speech

Have you ever wondered how wonderful an invention the human language is?

Words can stand for meanings so specific, that people spend their entire lives, just mulling over each word, its possible synonyms, the subtleties in the differences of their meanings--writing judgements of court cases, or 'terms and conditions' on a web site, or a legal contract, or diplomats issuing statements addressed to various capitals of respective nations.

While on the other hand, we could twist words totally out of their native meanings in our attempt to evoke intended emotions. If I tell my girlfriend (who does not exist out of the confines of my meninges), "I shall bring you the stars and the Moon", she would understand, I wouldn't try to do that literally, not because I can't do that, but because she'd know she'd die of starvation or oxygen-deprivation, or boredom on Moon, whereas proximity to stars would char her (don't be suprised by her intelligence; she'd be my girlfriend after all! ;) ). Or, if a sister tells her brother, "wo chocolate khaane se pehale tumhein meri laash par se guzaranaa hoga" [you'll have to walk over my dead body to eat that chocolate], the brother would know that what she actually means is that she's not in a mood to share the chocolate with him! And, a brother being male, would be clever enough to know that he could always circumvent her dead body to get the chocolate and need not actually walk over it! ;) Or, if someone says, "He wears his heart on his sleeve", everyone would know that having beautiful hearts to flaunt them has yet not become a fashion statement!

But, this figurative use of language gets most interesting when certain words get flashed all over the mass media, and get sprinkled about by politicians. Their meanings can change not just depending on the context, but even on which political party's rally they are speaking in! Or, in case of media houses, which party's 'pay roll' are they on!

Two such words that lend themselves most comfortably to fanciful usage, and thus making the user feel totally liberated from the confines of meaning and definition are 'secularism' and 'equality'.

Read the following newspiece, a bit stale, but more illustrative of the phenomenon than my rant, here:

The newspiece (click)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Flickering lights

R: Not for those who consider themselves minors.

"You know, I love you."

Darkness was gathering outside, with occasional attempts at countering it conspicuously emanating from the windows of a few apartments strewn all over. But, none of the two made any such attempt. He looked out through the oval vent and wondered if it was the window to the outside world or a barrier in the completeness of his solitude. He somehow could never come to like those tiny illuminated dots in this vast sea of darkness. He did not like the tiny rebellions. They scoffed at the darkness around... and within. He could close the window, but no, that would not change the fact. He had to turn them out himself. And thus, he looked at her for an answer before she answered.

She was taken aback that she had allowed the tea to overboil ever so slightly. Was it his words? She was readying the plates for their snack. And as she answered, she brushed back a wisp of hair that had fallen over her forehead using the back of her hand with disdain that one usually reserves for things of years of acquaintance. That wisp was definitely one of those things--mildly irritating, but persistent in its presence.

"They all say that when inebriated".
She looked at him from the corner of her eye as she dismissed him. Her gaze returned to the plates fully knowing he would have no answer. How could there be an answer?

He was reclined on the divan--one mattress carelessly thrown over the other. The divan served--both as a sofa as well as a bed. That after all was all the furniture her dwelling required. And a small table, and a chair. But now he slumped forward, his elbows resting on his thighs as the situation summoned greater involvement of his mental faculties.

"Not that kind of love, Munni! I'd love you even if you don't take it up your ass or suck me off later. I'd love you even if you don't fake your orgasms. I'm not one of those. You're getting me?"

Now, this was getting interesting, she thought. A light laughter escaped her mouth, which lingered on as a subdued smile. She was amused.

"So, you are alleging some other kind of love is possible?"

Her heightened interest was the reason she gave him the benefit of her full face, this time moving not just her eyes. Her gaze lingered on his face as he prepared to speak.


He got up from the seated position, and walked up to the vent behind her. Her gaze stopped following him, and returned to her plates, not sure herself if she was not interested in his answer, or felt better to not show interest.

With his back against the vent, he continued.

"You know, I've been observing you for a month, now. I love your zest for life. How you know you want something, and you know what that something is... snatching away from life, one thing after the other despite having nothing to have started with. I love it that those conceited cowards come to you, just wanting to prove their power over you, thinking you to be powerless. I love it when they pump their money into you, as you fake orgasm after orgasm. I love it when they go back, pump their soul into the world, and fake their life, moment after moment. And all the world does in return is spit back at them. You know, they all spit on each other! Gullible bastards!"

She was shocked. Her hands were paralyzed for a moment. Was he speaking standing behind her, or was he a voice in her head?

She turned around to face her fear. She surveyed his face. Calm. Could those fierce words have come from that mouth? Unrevealing. Those folded arms? Unshaking. Those eyes? Blank. Or was it the semblance of illumination peering through the obstructed vent playing tricks on her eyes? Or was it playing tricks on her mind? She concluded, words were his; the fear, hers. Now she too leaned against the kitchen cabinet, half-sitting on it, and folded her arms, trying to match his composure, by trying to match him in his posture. She hoped he could not see her eyes from where he was standing. But she wondered, if he needed to.

"How do you know you're not one of those gullible bastards?"

"Bastard, I am, but not gullible. And besides, I'm not inebriated, am I?"

A smile played on his lips. But, she was not sure. She was afraid. But, she was not sure. Maybe, it was the darkness getting to her. Maybe, she should put on the lights. But, she was not sure. She was intrigued. She was sure.

"I've not even touched you in last two hours!"

He was right, she thought. Most of her customers wanted her to wear some particular dress. Most of the customers would book her only for half-an-hour, and get it done with. Though, she did get occasional jerks, who would book her for two hours because they would want to do it "slow, sensual, filmy" style, but actually end up exhausted in little over an hour--in great parts because of her skill at quickening things up.

But he was different. He was not one of those regular customers. He had not asked her to wear anything specific. He had booked her only for 12 hours--from five in the evening, to five in the morning, yet paid her an advance for 48 hours! His behavior had irked her. This show of 'goodness' had got to her. She wanted to take her sweet revenge; as it is, she had got her advance. She decided to wear one of her regular night gowns with Disney motifs, and not wear any makeup, nor arrange the room into any setup, nor wear any fragrance.

But he was nonchalant. He was not affected. He did not ask her to alter anything. He was not one of those regular customers.

"What do you want?"

She asked in her straightest possible voice, trying to keep an edge out of it.

"You!", he said, with no edge to his voice.

"Meaning? You have me! In fact, I don't mind even if you actually extend your stay for two days. You've after all, paid me!"

"I want to marry you"

At this point a jet of laughter spurted out of her mouth. She laughed uncontrollably, almost falling as she staggered along half the width of her small room. She even clapped her hands, once. She tried to quieten up, and stay still, but her mind replayed his fresh image that had said "I want to marry you", and she burst out laughing, yet again, this time leaning over the kitchen cabinet and banging her palm against its top. She quietened up as the last milliliters of air in her lungs escaped out in alternate coughs and laughs.

She thought how she had faked her laughter a countless times as her drunk customers would try to impress her with their pathetic jokes, which were insufficient to make their girlfriends and mistresses laugh. And she would slyly watch them smile in satisfaction that would wash away their frustration of being inept jokers. This thought made her laugh again, but she was already feeling lightheaded, and decided she could no longer afford to spend her air.

This was the first time she had not faked her laughter and she felt wonderful.

She stood straight and looked at the source of her joke. Or was he the joke, she wondered as her bout of laughter had made her forget her fear. She decided she could put on the lights.

Both squinted as their eyes bore the sudden assault of illumination. Their eyes met, and she laughed yet again, covering her mouth with her hand, this time regaining composure faster, clearly embarrassed by his certain scrutiny. But she was surprised. He too was smiling--taking in the mirth her pure, uninhibited laughter had exuded. He was not offended in the least. She bit her lip. She was losing her professional touch in his presence. After all, he was a valuable customer, and she could not afford to lose him. Which other duffer would offer her an advance for 48 hours, and do nothing to her, save cracking the occasional hugely entertaining jokes? He was truly valuable!

"What kind of marriage are you suggesting? Wherein, we hold hands, laugh and giggle, go out for movies together, you put your head in my lap in the wet grass, under the Moon and the stars saying a dozen times how much you love me? Then we have children; we name them Chunnu, Munnu? Our children grow up, leave us, and we still hold our hands, and profess our love for each other, saying would like to die before the other? That kind of marriage? That kind of love? The one they show in the movies?"

She laughed yet again at her own description, more circumspect this time, yet with lingering awareness of the lack of control over the self.

He slightly raised his left eyebrow still smiling--the most animated his face had got hitherto, and said, "So are you alleging some other kind of marriage is possible?"

"Yes, of course, the normal kind! Involving gullible bastards!"

The lines between his eyebrows further furrowed as he questioned her, "Between you and me?"

She was taken aback. She realized, they were venturing into territories where she had no experience. Her profession and life had not taught her how to ramble quasi-philosophically about love and marriage. She sought to bring the course of events to her territory. The well rehearsed moans, calculated depth and rhythm of her inhalations and exhalations, critically timed feigned gasps, opening and closing of eyes in slow motion.

"I'm not one of those regular customers."

The joke was turned on her now. She was desperate. She had to be quick. She lowered her gaze gently, and made calculated adjustments in her voice to make is sound optimally sultry, keeping in mind the keen perceptiveness of one she was dealing with.

"That means, you'll just stand there. You say you love me, and you don't even feel like touching me, dear?"

She was half-expecting him to dole out some filmy line like "touching of souls", or some such crap, and bracing to avoid laughing at him.

But instead, he took a gentle step forward. "I never said that!"

There was something about him that frightened her. Though, he did not pounce on her, only took a step forward, there was a certain suddenness about him; not the quickness of his motions, but their inherent unpredictability. She had moved up a lot in life, and more than her appearance, it was owing to her ability to understand people, to be able to extrapolate, and thus, anticipate what they wanted, and what she could extract from them. She was a master judge of people. But not of him. He was not one of those regular customers. This frightened her. She had thought his approaching her would make her feel comfortable, but it only made her heart beat faster. She remembered to try to quicken her breath, but it was already quickened!

He came and placed his hands gently around her waist, but somehow their grip seemed inescapable to her. He regarded her face, and twined his fingers in that wisp of hair on her forehead. He pushed it back gently and placed his lips on her forehead. She raised only her eyes, not moving her head, trying to come to know better her fear of the unknown. Now, with his hands behind her back, his lips were tickling where her nose was about to end. She was having a hard time controlling the rate of her breath. Her instincts told her to return all of his money, and bid him goodbye forever. Her breath was racing and she wondered if he even breathed!

His lips met hers, and a primal fear gripped her as she tried to push it away through her tongue in his mouth, by now.

She felt like a four-year-old-kid having forgotten her rhyme midway, and the entire class and teachers looking at her with bated breath to continue.

Her practice had failed her in this moment, and she mumbled in her body language. She thrust forward her hips a bit too jerkily. She tried to hold his neck with her hands, not knowing if to place them a centimeter below or centimeter above where they had ended up. She was thinking where had she kept that money he had given her as an advance.

Then suddenly, he moved back. But she felt as if he had pushed her.

"Do you find me attractive?"


"Are you feeling turned on?"

She just half-shrugged her shoulders, and released and installment of air that had felt trapped just like her. That was her reply.

"Then why are you pretending to?"

His voice was raised by now. She could sense a touch of what she thought to be emotion. Or was it merely his proximity. She regarded his questions. Attractive? She had learned to classify men only on the bases of how much pain could the potentially inflict on her in their attempt of display of power over her. Where was the question of frigging attractiveness? Turned on? Yes, she felt turned on, like her MP3 player would, on pressing the PLAY button, and it would dole out the preloaded songs. And that is what she had just tried to do! What "turned on" was he talking of? The kind of turned on her customers felt, drunk, thinking her to be Tiffany, or alternatively, Anarkali when she would teasingly reveal her body parts? How could she feel that way for him? Or, anyone? What was the need? Her thoughts glossed over the absurdity of his expectations, and she felt like giggling, like a naughty student suppressing her laughter standing before a teacher shouting with ominous anger.

"I think you're not prepared for me yet."


Just as she opened her mouth to speak he added, "But eventually, you would be." He then turned back and asked her, "You were saying something?". But she knew, what he meant was he was not going to buzz off.

She could not find her voice, and a "no" escaped her mouth. She cursed herself. That was not what she had wanted to say!

He went to the divan and collapsed on it, and squealed with the bubbly enthusiasm of a three-year-old, "I'm hungry, Munni! Can we eat something?"

They drank their tea, only mildly warm by now, and started having pakoras for their slow dinner.

They started telling their stories. A year of life per pakora, and couple of years per sip of tea.

She had got into the business ten years back when she was fourteen, pushed into it by the warden of her orphanage. Over the years, she had come to wonder what was it that other people did in their lives? What made them gather so much frustration in their lives just to try to own a large house? To be able to travel in their own cars? What pushed them to wait for that seventh day of the week they used to call "holiday"? What was it that made a child look longingly at a poster displaying an ice cream? What was it that made people wear shades even in dark and made them feel somehow superior to others who did not? What made people stand outside the multiplexes to watch feigned lives?

She had never understood any of those things. All of them required one thing--money. She could indeed indulge in pleasures--one-by-one, on occasions. But no, she did not want to do that. She wanted to have so much money that she would never again require to count how much she would be left each time she were to spend.

With time she had learned that buying clothes a shade lighter, heels an inch shorter, and applying a lipstick a shade shy-er, would not allow people to make out that she was not one of them. Though, she had known how to read, and somewhat, to write, her manner of speaking would still give away she was different. She read books, watched movies, learned to speak English. Eventually, she also learned to fake her accent as well as all her customers and their female toys had learned to fake. The sound of h after all the hard consonants, the unuttered r at the end of words. She started using French words, too. That was her another milestone. How to convolute the tongue in the mouth to "gedet rayht".

She started going to the gym, doing the same repetitive exercises, day-after-day, just picturing herself behind a steering wheel.

With time she learned, the trick was not to stand out, but to gel in. No wonder, they stopped calling her a whore. She got herself a new name--Monica. She had anyway long forgotten she was Padma some time in her life. She also noticed, with each new thing she learned, people paid her more for doing the same things, in as much time. Sometimes, she was also taken to parties at costly hotels. She knew she had arrived on the block as an arriviste.

She had amassed enough money to open a small snack bar. She had learned that for whatever reasons she could not fathom, people thronged to places that had distorted spellings. Hers was CRUNCHEZ n' MUNCHEZ. It was an instant success, but she herself never ate there. She could never like the taste of that bland, oily food.

She had also been able to get herself a 50 percent partnership in one of the liquor shops. Liquor shops did not fail to generate humongous profits. It was a very safe investment. And now, she planned to take it over one of these days.

He was from a distinguished family. Bright, right from the childhood. He had attended the best of the schools, the best business school. Nobody who met him was left unimpressed. He had sipped vices, but never gulped them down; bathed in them, but never drowned. They did not engage his thirst.

He was an investment banker. Everything he touched, turned to gold. He had a knack for picking up the right mind. He could read people's minds like large captions splashed over billboards. None of his ventures had ever failed.

But he never knew why he continued in that business. Two years out of his business school, he had got bored of it. He saw business ventures as arithmetic questions at the end of the chapter. He would find it thrilling to solve few questions, then the thrill would evade him. He would attempt to solve the last question, the most difficult of them all, struggle a bit, but would eventually solve it. What would he do then? Take up the next chapter. Repeat the grind.

He had invested in it all--vada paav stalls to swanky restaurants; spring-loaded tops to electronic chips; illicit watering holes to poshest of pubs; student union elections to sponsoring election campaigns for incumbent chief ministers; environment-protection NGOs to battalions of goons to disrupt construction works; orphanages to old-age homes--all had reaped him profits. None had ever failed to.

He had nothing new left to try. No maths question he felt could challenge; no business venture could fail with his involvement.

An uneasy purposelessness had gripped him. He was suffocated by it. He had wanted an anchor for his life; something to return to everyday, that which would wait for him to return.

Thus, they told everything about themselves. Or, so the other thought.

She wondered, if he anyway did not know about her whatever she had told. Yet, he had heard her with utmost interest, just like he would hear any business proposition. He knew, after all, he was investing in her. He had already invested an advance, which she thought to be her fee for 48 hours.

"So, what do you say?", he asked.

"I'll have to think."

"What is there to think?"

"I'm not sure if I'd like to leave all this I've started here. I've planned all my life around expanding my businesses. To earn things for myself. To reach where nobody with my kind of deprivation could have thought to reach."

"You could do that even with me around. In any corner of the world. That [pointing to his bag] has everything that we could ever need, in fact much more. I won't assist you with finances."

She feigned a yawn.

"I'll go, wash my face; return in a moment."

She returned in few minutes, but found him sleeping. She went to her small table, and started writing a letter. Suddenly, an alarm buzzed; it was his cell phone. It was two in the morning, and he had woken up.

"I want some tea.", he said.

She was about to get up, when he asked, "What are you doing?"

"Nothing, just seeing my schedule for the week, and taking down some notes."

"Never mind, I'll prepare it myself. You'd like some?"

You're kidding me? Have you ever touched a single utensil, Mr. the Gautam Malhotra?"

"You'll see Ms. Monica!"

"Oh, then I'd like to see. Maybe, taste also!", she winked.

She was surprised, as he effortlessly reached for the utensil containing milk in her fridge. Equally effortlessly turned on the burner of the gas stove with his lighter. She wondered how closely must he have watched her sitting on the divan.

"You smoke?", she asked looking at the lighter.

"Occasionally, if I feel my smoking would make my prospective associates more comfortable doing business with me."

"You call them associates? Not, gullible bastards?"

"There are gullible bastards, and there are cunning bastards. I associate with cunning bastards."

"That's why you want to associate with me?"

"Mostly, yes."

"Why, mostly?"

"'Cuz I won't be making a fool of them here on. I'll leave the job to themselves."

"So, you wouldn't want me also to keep on fooling them, pretending to be powerless before them and enjoying their company?"

"Would you want to continue?"

"No, even I've got bored of wimpy jokers."

He filled two cups with tea, arranged them on a tray, and motioned her to come to the bed.

They both sipped their tea. It was one of the strongest she had had. Burnt, almost. Bitterness not neutralized by the sugar in it.

He looked out the vent. It was dark outside. Totally dark. He liked it. A smile played on his lips. But the very next moment it disappeared as he thought how again there would be tiny rebellions tomorrow. But he knew at least he was doing his job.

She thought about the phone call she had made, and the letter she had written. She wondered what it was in this man sitting before her that made her make those allowances. Was she falling in L.O.V.E.--she spelled it in her head? No way! She brushed aside the thought, and the wisp of her hair that had returned to her forehead. But, this time with care, feeling how it smoothly slid against her fingers, making her aware of a life of its own.

He looked at her. She was beautiful also, he thought. Her eyes, they were captivating, but something about them put him at unease. He saw a flitting smile on her lips, and that gave him the confidence to plan his week ahead.

They both finished their tea. He pushed aside the tray onto the floor, and said, "I want to teach you something." She looked at him, questioningly. "To be yourself".

She laughed, not with contempt, but frank amusement.

He got up, and started unzipping her gown. That was all she had on. Then, he eased her frame onto the bed.

"I want you to be just yourself. Not someone's fantasy. 'Cuz you're my fantasy. You've no business trying to please me. I'm paying you to be just yourself. So, that's your professional obligation."

She wondered what was this disease--"just be yourself"! She had been a thousand men's thousand fantasies. From demure school girl to tyrannical ring master; from wretched widow to newly-wed neighbor's bride. But what was this "just be yourself"! She wondered.

She felt the same fear gripping. Fear of not knowing how to be "just herself", or plainly put, how to be 'nothing'.

He regarded her, first from a distance, then he laid himself on her. He untied her hair, and intertwined his fingers in them, and kissed her on the forehead. She was sure, it was the same fear she had experienced in the evening. But she was determined. She stayed still.

She wondered what kind of man was he? All her customers would get drunk before trying to violate her. But here he was drinking tea. Strongest of them all. He did not violate her. He studied her.

She felt a new feeling for the first time ever. She felt exposed! His all the five senses were making love to her. He looked at every part of her body with the watchfulness of a diamond trader; he smelt her; tasted her; felt the smooth texture of her skin, and with gentle pressure made out what was beneath. He even put his ears to her chest to listen to her heart beat, and the air that wafted in and out of her lungs. He made love to every part of her body, in all the ways she could imagine; and, those, that even she could not.

She felt vulnerable. She had never felt violated when her customers sweared at her in their moments of misguided passion thinking her to be Tiffany or one Anarkali. But here he was, calmly making love to her, drowning himself in all that she was. He caressed her gently, and she felt violated. But, he was not one of those regular customers, she thought.

Suddenly, she felt that vulnerability spread to all of her body. A small speck of her mind thought of the phone call, and that letter, that they were terrible mistakes. But rest of her brain was overwhelmed by the sensations she was experiencing for the first time.

What was it that he felt for her? What was it that made him experience her in parts, and in entirety, with equal pleasure? What was it that made him make love to her, like he wanted to memorize her? What was it that made him make love to her, as if it was for one last time?

It was love she thought. The confidence you could find everything you could ever want from someone. That is why she loved herself.

She did not realize when this violation turned into pleasure, and she wanted to love him back. She urged him to kiss her, and she kissed him back. She tried loving him the same way--experiencing which that was him.

She shouted out, "I love you, Gautam. I want to be your wife. I need you. Please love me."

It was at that moment his two hands gripped her neck. It was with passion? It was with malice? She could not decide. His malice was his passion. She thought, how many of her customers would just do that. But they would release her in time. He was not one of those regular customers.

She tried to throttle him back. He was out of reach. Her hands barely reached where they wanted to. She felt vulnerable. She felt violated. She felt suffocated. She felt trapped. She felt a pain in her head. And, she felt pleasure. She thrashed her legs, but without oxygen, they had started going limp. She tried to scream. Nothing came out of her open mouth.

She thought of the phone call, smiled; had her first ever orgasm, and died.

Now she was motionless, but he was still making love to her through all his five senses. Her hands gripping his neck, but barely squeezing him. She was cold. She was blue, but he still continued to push into her. He tried to memorize her, as if making love for one last time. Now, she was a cadaver, but he was not one of those regular customers. He valued his victims. He was always grateful to them even after they had died. After all, they had all valued him the most just before dying.

He looked at those eyes, and remembered the unease. Her eyes, the way they twinkled, reminded him of those tiny rebellions. The illuminated apartments. He had hated her for one whole month since he had discovered her. How dare she be so sure of what she wanted? How dare she think she had a purpose? How dare she go about achieving that purpose? How dare she scoff at him? At his purposelessness? At his helplessness? She paid for her folly. And though, she could no longer pay, he was still extracting. One more successful venture of his. He never failed.

He looked out the vent. Still there was darkness, but he knew, there would be tiny rebellions, yet again, tomorrow. But, he smiled in satisfaction; at least, one less.

He chose his victims only by one criterion--those with a zest for life; those who wanted something in life, and were inching towards it. Those scoffing at him, spitting him in the face. Like, that street child, all he had wanted was chocolates. He treated him to chocolates, till he felt most alive, till he puked out of cloy-ness. He then drowned him in chocolate syrup. That old lady--all she had wanted was to meet her long dead son. He stayed with her. Heard her stories. Cooked her food. Took her on a tour of the city, massaged her legs, as she was slowly dying, hung from the roof.

There was a small sound, but he was drowned in his thoughts and his sensations. A hand covered his mouth with a kerchief. He felt lightheaded, but immediately jerked it away. He did not collapse. He immediately exhaled all the air he had inhaled. The two intruders had expected an inebriated, exhausted weakling. But here he was, still high on all the tea flowing in his blood, and high on rage.

Their instructions on the phone were clear. To just break one of his legs, and temporarily render him unconscious--and, not to kill him. But his countering their assault had infuriated one of them. He kicked the new victim who was till then trapped between her two hands stiffened by rigor. They looked at her spasmed body, and were pleasantly surprised, as their victim had done to her exactly what they had planned to. The intruders started looking for the bag.

They had slashed his carotid, and he knew, he did not have enough time to replay the whole of his life. Even in immense pain, and drowsiness, he saw things clearly. He was dying, he knew. But he did not want to die? Why? What purpose did he seek to achieve? His hatred had pushed him to turn out all lights, and that had become his purpose. He had never realized how much he had started loving his purpose, and started living by it. He was also one of those. But, he did not want to die gullible. He could not die gullible. From the corner of his eyes he could see the faint figures of those robbers who had deceived him--the first time ever he had been deceived. That it was to be the last did not matter to him. He did not want to die gullible. He tried to raise his hand to stop them, but it had stopped obeying his orders. It just fell across her legs, as if reaching for something, but it could not reach those figments of motion in the corner of his eyes. Her image, now not even a blur came to his remnant of attention, and her stiff arms raised in air, as if reaching for something, still etched in his mind, made him smile. He thought of all the counterfeit currency in that bag, smiled. He did not die gullible.

But he died with the sound of an alarm clock buzzing. Underneath it was a page from the diary, fluttering with the wind intruding from that vent, rejoicing in its insignificance.

Dear Gautam,

When you read this, it will be too late, and very insignificant. I'll be gone far away, chasing my dreams.

You had it in you, what could stall me. But I'm still that little girl, wanting to enjoy her ice cream, as if it will never get over; enjoying a movie, as if it will never end; driving a car, with wind rushing through my hair, as if it will never stop.

You had it in you to make me feel I was incomplete without you. That, I'd be nothing if not for you. But, that's not what I had wanted to feel.

Yet, I wanted to feel for once, what it meant to be loved, to be needed; to love, to need. I'm sure you'll give that to me, and I'll be able to live by those memories.

I'm sure you'll find an anchor for yourself, with which you will intertwine your being.

I'm going far away from you. Don't try to find me. 'Cuz, I can't be that anchor.

Love, only this once.


The alarm clock quietened, knowing it had done all it was meant to do in its lifetime. It was five in the morning, dark outside, but tiny rebellions, different from those in the evening, started glowing, one-by-one, all over...



1. Small thanks to Tangled Up in Blue for the encouragement.

2. If you feel this story has more to it than what meets the eye, then you are not hallucinating.

3. If you feel this story has nothing more to it than what is contained in the words, then you are not blind.

4. Gail Waynand is a character from the story 'The Fountainhead', who seeks to destroy those with true love for the vocations they practice.

5. Midas Mulligan (search on the linked article), is a character from 'Atlas Shrugged', who was immensely successful in his investment ventures, and from who the character of Gautam Malhotra is partly derived.

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