Sunday, October 31, 2010

..and a coffee with extra cream

The ashtray was overflowing with cigarettes stubs. Some burned, some crushed and scattered like the half burned hands and limbs of the unclaimed body pile in Municipality Incineration ground. The thought always gravely disturbed me.

The evening crowd started to pour in at Coffee House. The day has lashed at them, but yet again they have survived and as if to celebrate another victory of survival they gathered over a cup of coffee. The college students of Presidency were laughing hysterically at one corner huddled in their group and the grey haired bureaucrats mused over politics and diabetes. The waiters visibly tired and disinterested over the meagre tips were moving like zombies in the labyrinth of the tables and misplaced chairs. And in midst of all these the big portrait of Rabindranath stood silently and stared right through us to an unknown distant.

In the left corner I sat on my 4 foot by 4 foot table decorated with a glass of water and my lonely ashtray. By now the cigarette smoke was slowly engulfing the high ceilings and burning nicotine slowly numbed my senses that I could no longer smell the fresh winter breeze outside. It always feels good to be invisible in the crowd, to see life from a distance, to see happiness from a distance so that you can’t touch it and ruin the moment. Maybe this is what life is supposed to mean, a cup of coffee in a winter evening and an occasional cigarette. Maybe there is no higher meaning. No higher thought. Maybe even no god. It’s just us alone in a lonely planet, a mistake, a miracle.

What if there is no heaven? No one waiting at the pearly gates. If everything is just a myth. The fountains of youth, the happiness, and the virgins. What if there are no 72 virgins awaiting us but it’s just an endless void.

I shuddered at the thought. Commander-Sir has told me again and again that god tests his chosen disciple with impure thoughts and one should not give in to such feelings. How could I lose my self control so easily? It has to be done for the greater good. I took my handkerchief and slowly slid it inside the plaster casing over my belly to wipe of the accumulated sweat.

They said it was a safe explosive, but it still isn’t a comforting thought to sit strapped with half a kilo of strapped C4 RDX explosive. I mentally repeated the instructions, clip the electrodes, punch in inside the C4 and for the last 2 minutes pray to Holy God, because I am lucky enough to be the chosen one, but am I?

"May I join you if you don’t mind?" She interrupted

"Ye..Yeas...Yes Sure", I said spontaneously as if out of control. Last thing I needed was someone sitting close to me and getting suspicious.

She was not beautiful, but she was comforting. She has a calmness inside her that always makes you feel good.

"So you are an activist?"

"What gave me away?" She said with a fake amusement.

"The book on History of Communism to begin with. But isn’t it a sinking ship. It’s a lost cause I presume"

She smirked, the kind a mother smile when her kid asks her the most innocent question in a serious manner.

"Bapi Da, 1 coffee and 1 sandwich. Should I order something for you too?"

I stared amused at the waiter who till now so conveniently ignored me and suddenly revived his interest in his job.

"No, I am already late. I should have left early" I said to her but more to myself.

"Do you know in Rome, gladiators used to fight animals? Yes, its brave and few did manage to kill the beasts. But most died a pathetic death", she said staring right through me with those fiery kajal lined eyes.

"Not that I approve of it, but yes I have heard about such stuff. But weren’t they forced to fight"

"Yes they were. But my point is, faced by impossible odds for being torn apart by beasts, won’t you just gift yourself with a peaceful death of suicide.Isnt it more logical?"

I smiled at the trap of words I walked into, “Yes, I guess so"

"Yes communism is a sinking ship. But if the other option is to drown in the waters of this so called democracy. I will take chances with mending holes in my ship."

"But what’s in it for you. What will you achieve?" I said a bit arrogantly.

"Tell me what you achieve by a cup of coffee and a handful of cigarettes. They are certainly not to satiate your hunger is it?"

"No but it at least gives me pleasure, which I feel is important"

"Exactly, pleasure. Pleasure is only thing apart from need that forces us to do things. Maybe I need a good job or a nice salary. But I don’t find pleasure in something I don’t believe in. You believe in your cup of coffee and I believe in equality or call it communism maybe even naxalism"

"Do you know I am a Muslim", I said as if to dare her. I always found it amusing to see how people reacted when I said my name. In their fake mask of secularism, they always squirmed a bit, their voice turned softer, and a bit more cordial, with a hint of pity.

"No I did not know that, nor could have guessed.
But if you think that your religion defines you, then I am glad to know you are Muslim"

"No, my religion does not. But what does is the fact that I grew up in a slum listening fairy tale stories of the lost riches before partition. What defines me is the fact that I am tired of feeling scared of any person staring at me. What defines me is how you people unashamed take the liberty to judge me." The words flowed out of me, as if escaping a life sentence inside my mind.

She still retained the smirk, the smile, which now felt like a mockery, mockery of my exposed emotions.

"But are you not changing that definition. I think you are scared of revolution, scared of struggle isn’t it. So I guess you are even scared of changing that definition."

"I am not scared of changing it. I am just scared, if I am following the right way to change it. I am scared that maybe in process of changing my definition, I will lose touch with my goal."

"But the path is not important. What important is the end, or at least hope of the end. Do you know what the difference between hopes and dreams is? Dream is a romanticism of future, but hope is need of future. Have you lost hope?"

A thin array of wrinkles of worry appeared on her forehead like a rippled sand on river shore. A harmony in noise.

"No, certainly not. But I have lost trust. Trust in humanity. I have lost trust in right and wrong. I don’t even trust judgement. Does that make me inhuman?"

"Yes, I guess that does. But humanity is always being a myth to hide our selfish self. We are scared of chaos inside us. Hence the veil of sanity", she said in a sad melancholic way, as if reflecting some forgotten past.

Then as if suddenly realising the flimsiness of the surroundings she smiled and started picking up her bag.

"Care to join me to the Metro Station? You seem quite lonely and a little bit sad. I guess it’s the peeling paints on the walls of Coffee House"

I smiled as if hide my emotions.

"Yes this walls are old, even the fans needs some rest. They do look tired, don’t they? Nah!! You carry on. Maybe I should start changing the system with some renovations out here" I smiled a satisfied smile first time in ages.

Bapi da came running as she put the money in his pocket. The extra tip was visible excess and the smile of Bapi da told why madam got better treatment.

"Hey, you haven’t told your name?" she shouted over the hum and bustle of crowd near the door.

"Neither have you, but I guess that is not important" I retorted.

"Hey! By the way, you know we are not much different, we both hate the system to such an extent that we believe, whatever is on the other side of this life, is at least better than what we have now!" I shouted with a rising excitement

She smiled her first genuine smile and walked down the stairs.

The evening breeze has turned chilly and I had forgotten my sweater.


She did not know how long she lay on the sidewalk. It was like a sudden gust of hot wind, a desert storm in winter night that swept her off her feet. The distinct screech in her ears deafened her from all the scream and chaos, giving her much needed moment of peace.

She closed her eyes to rest as the peeling walls of Coffee House burned in a cold silent night and hands and limbs were strewn across like an overturned ashtray full of cigarette stubs. The irony.

"When It's Time To Live And Let Die

And You Can't Get Another Try

Something Inside This Heart Has Died

You're In Ruins"

-21 Guns, Greenday

P.S: 1 Post in 2 months is pathetic, and yes i know it. But when life itself is pathetic cant exactly blame my blog. I hate the word writers block...coz i m not even a writer enough to have a block...but sometime its a comforting excuse..isnt it?

I myself think conversations could have been a bit more deeper...but I refrain from editing it, coz apart from being just a fiction, it has bit of my personal views as well.... As always let me know ur honest opinions....but that doesnt means u will be outright brutal :P

I am not stereotyping anyone here and if anyone finds this post offensive in any manner do let me know...i will amend...just dont kill me without giving me a chance to explain myself :|


TurbulentMind said...

wow, BF, do you make conversations flow like that..and you know the funny thing? just this morning I was kinda missing having to read your blogs..Now isn't this a sign :P ..honestly, I should not write micro stories..because I can't! they do not have the innate quality of eloquence, a depth, a free flow of thought and feeling..awesome, just plain awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hello there!

A very very interesting post indeed. I liked how the plot moved, taking us along with it. Kudos to your writing skill, sir!

Regards and best wishes

The Dream Weaver

Bikramjit said...

i doubt if anyone will be offended by naything in the post .. to me its fantabulous...

I am not a critic or anyone who can say its good or bad .. but my personal thought on the story is its excellent one , at some places i could relate to it when talking of religion ... i do think sometimes perspective changes and its not jsut muslims , telling someone you are a sikh also sometimes gets the same reaction ... OH.. yeah

good one BF.. loved it and thats my honest opinion :)

Bikram's Blog

Komal Ali said...

I don't read such long posts, but you my friend, are great. :)
I love how it moved...and the flow. So natural...and you must write a book.
Kudos, Sir jee! :)

Madhu said...

when u write like this u leave me with no other choice but being brutally honest..:)

to begin with i like the description.Of the girl, of ur conversation starter..and more importantly the coffee shop.

What i fail to understand is ur obsessions with cigarettes.Not wanting to be cliche and judjemental but do u have any reason featuring a cigar in many of ur posts?? Considering it is a work of fiction..:)

Opinios differ..everybody have the right to think the way they long as no one is stopping me,i am not stopping anybody as well..:)

come back for more..

happy diwali!

JoHn said...

I loved the last line.

It was incomplete, yet complete. It was insightful, yet dark. It was honesty, yet it bordered on the hinge of the thirst the system so very efficiently burns into each one of us.


rantravereflect/ jane said...

wow- that left me frikking breathless, if that's what ya come up with after a writer's block, ya shud have more such blocks-- very productive!
i cud visualise it , thru n thru. n it's turned my ver insides, just liek its twisted my very beliefs n conviction, awesome!!!!

suruchi said...

i soooooooooo wait for your blog posts just as much as i wait for your comments on mine...
in fact soooooo inspired by your narrative genius...i try to maaro one or two of my own fiction ones from time to time n generally fail...

you have to tell us more about where these oh-so-awesome stories flow from...
you have to give us more of you than just stories...
and if this is what you call writer's block, we HAVE TO redefine writer's block syndrome again:-)

i absolutely loved the was as though some one was preaching to me and doing it in such a way that i was finding myself nodding n eager instead of the usual oh-my-god-the-same-old-story kinda reaction...

i can go on n on about the appreciation...but let me not extend the comment longer beyond the post itself...

loved the post n please keep writing...
you at your worst is better than most of us at our best:-)

buckingfastard said...

@turbulentmind: as i was apprehensive if my conversation part was in sync... i take ur comment as a compliment :D

aww...sweet...hope ur craving for blog post forces me out of my laziness...i wish i cud be more regular...

ohh cummon!! trust me wen i tell me u are out of the 3-4 bloggers i know who hav the art of story telling....writing stories and story telling is different and ur writing has that difference :)

buckingfastard said...

@dreamweaverforever: hey welcome to my blog and so many thanks for the nice nice words :)

i dunno how old u are...but i m a college student so if u call me sir makes me feel squirmish like those old profs :P

buckingfastard said...

@bikramjit: yes thankfully, people reading my blog are open minded enough to differentiate fiction from facts :)

and its not any critical masterpiece that u need to be critic...its simple story of two people and if u can relate to it and admire as good as it can get for me.... :D

i am aware of the fact how religion is slowly turning into a factor of shame not only for one religion but for all of us

buckingfastard said...

@komal ali ji: madamji... thanks for giving my long post a me i too dont like reading long post...and i tried to keep it as short as possible without harming the details...

and thnk u soo much for the lovely comment...though with my laziness will take decades to be completed :P

buckingfastard said...

@Madhu: brutally honest madhu is as good as it gets in comment section :D

thanks for ur compliments and for ur doubts...

firstly, yes i smoke but that is not an obsession causing cigarettes featuring in post...actually most of my post is about kolkata...and in mumbai u find pub at every delhi u find paratha and kabab at every corner and in kolkata u find smoke joints at every corner...smoking is extremely prevalent addiction in kolkata...and wat i see is what i write...

and coffee house in this particular post is a real place and its original pic is given at the top of the post...and the cigarette ashtray description trust me is no exaggeration

but am glad u pointed it out...maybe i m making it a kind of signature and will notice it frm now on

buckingfastard said...

@john: off all people i was sure u will appreciate the darkness and the skewed up pessimism of the post!! :D

buckingfastard said...

@jane: ohh breathe in!! breathe out!! breathe in!! breathe out!! dont die breathless on my blog :)

welcome to my blog!!

ohh writer bloc is just an excuse fr my sounds so sophisticated and all na!!! and looks like it did wat all i intended it to i m super happy :D

hope 2 see u around!!

buckingfastard said...

@suruchi: INSPIRED BY MY NARRATIVE GENIUS...see how good ur at making up fictional stuff abt me :P

and ur fictions are soo thought provoking dat it forces anonymous ppl to write stories for u...u hav no right to crib :)

i hav already redefined writer's bloc...its jst plain laziness and recurrent depression...and yes now i realised i hav not written any random post for loooong time...maybe someday i shud get drunk and type some random stuff out here :|

yes the conversation was my biggest worry as it was my central plot and a new domain fr me...but glad u liked it...

also i can read onnn and onnn of my praises but den oder mite mistake me as a narcissist... let me not risk dat :D

COMMUNI said...

BF, i really don't have words for this. I read this post earlier and thought I would come back with some points and write it. But I still can't get any words. Really amazing...the way of writing and the point u wanna make...amazing.

Riddhiculuos said...

BF, nicely put.. well crafted.. good flow.. last but not the least -- moving... badhia.. post often... and i love the lay out... i cme after long i missed this one.. like the rain drops..

Nikita Banerjee said...

Waah! Now that is some conversation!

blunt edges said...

I'm reading blogs today after a long time and this is easily the best post I have come across this cold winter morning :)

And found some lines that truly talked to me:
"Maybe this is what life is supposed to mean, a cup of coffee in a winter evening and an occasional cigarette. Maybe there is no higher meaning. No higher thought. Maybe even no god. It’s just us alone in a lonely planet, a mistake, a miracle"

Brilliant Bucking!

buckingfastard said...

@communi: sooory for the laate reply...i was off my blog for over a month

u dont need words to express ur love...thank u soo around often now :P

buckingfastard said...

@riddhiculous: welcome to the blog world..u were off circuit for long :)

thank u soo much for liking it :) hope i can be more regular in coming year :D

buckingfastard said...

@nikita: thanks madam...coming from u it really means a lot :)

@bluntu: dude where were u...means u were AWOL for like months....back for good i suppose :)

and i still like u for choosing my fav line from the fiction without fail :)

Arnav said...

Great read .. the way in which the plot develops through the conversations is great . The good part you have actually managed to put forth your views in a subtle manner .
You could have well written a post on your views , but chose to write a story and that made the post an interesting one :) :)

The way you defined the central character and reflect his thought process is cool ..

manisha said...

I love the way u narrate the details it makes me like kolkata even more i am glad u stumbled upon my blog...ur blog made for an interesting read.One great story teller you are