Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Hit

This short story was first featured in the November issue of Telegram last year. 

Issue theme: Spaced Out. 

Helmed by a talented lot having excellent taste in art- and available here for a minimal price of thirty bucks- the magazine is a fantastic platform for amateur writers to showcase their work alongside like-minded others who value quality writing. Do check it out and subscribe. 

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…and we had laughed so hard at that. At him. Haha! Just the thought of it cheers me up so much.

Well yes, it was rude of us. You are right, we shouldn’t have.

Most definitely rude.

But it was not like I knew any better back then. It’s not like we are supposed to know any better at that age, is it?

Can you do me a favor? Walk up to that desk and turn that frame away from us, will you?

Yes please.

Why? I’ve told you ‘why’ already. I’m not telling you again.

So where was I…

I mean, how old was I at the time, thirteen?

Come now, you can’t blame a thirteen year old girl just for laughing! That too with a reason!

The man fell. And he fell mighty funny. And he fell not once, not twice. Three times! At almost the same spot!

So how could we not have laughed? Do you not see?

Of course I did feel bad for him afterwards. I did think maybe he must be wrong in the head or something. You know, wiring upstairs gone bad. And if it gives you any consolation, I remember mentioning him in my prayers that evening after I went home. I remember hoping he wasn’t hurt more than it looked from where we had watched and laughed.

What’s that? Yes.

Yes, we used to pray a lot. Took religion very seriously, the people at our house did; especially dad.

So I had prayed for him. Now you tell me what kind of ‘bad’ thirteen year old girl does that for a stranger.

Ah, but I see you are not convinced. So what then… Do you say I was still wrong?

No no, don’t deny it now!

I saw how you shook your head. Your bushy beard gave it away.

No, it was not the cough. Well yes, I did hear you cough, but you cough all the time and I know that wasn’t it.

And what about the way you rolled your eyes? What reason will you give me to cover that up, ha?

Your ‘condition’? Oh fuck your condition.

I am on to you, good sir. Your condition is as fake as that three hundred rupee note your friend over there was trying to impress me with at this very hour last night. I told him the note was crap and that he better shove it up his ass, you know, just to balance the amount of crap his mouth and his ass are holding.

Don’t talk about your ‘condition’ with me. Comes and goes when you want it to come and go. Didn’t have any problem spotting that photo-frame I asked you to move, did you?
(I do hope you’re going to get up and move that darn thing sometime soon.)

Your eyes are fine. Admit it, you are NOT convinced.

That’s that.

And I’m okay with it. I mean, it IS a free country, isn’t it? Dey-maw-cra-cee, am I saying it right?

But now that you’re thinking - and I know you are - that I was wrong, I should get to ask you something in return. Doesn’t that sound fair?

Then tell me this -
Now now, don’t think I’ll let you go if you act all sleepy. No sliding down under the bed-sheet. Up! Sit as you were. Match shoulders with me. Lean harder against the bedpost if you want to, but don’t think you’ll be let off the hook so easy, mister. 

And you haven’t even done what I had asked you to. 

That frame is still lying there on the desk!

Of course I know this is not our house and we shouldn’t be touching things. Don’t tell me that! Not like I’m asking you to chuck the frame out the window or something.

What harm is turning it to face the wall going to do?

And again with the ‘why’…I’ve told you before, haven’t I?

She looks like my mum. The woman in the photo.

I miss her, you know. And I don’t want her seeing me naked.

Now leave all of that and answer me this - would you have acted any different had you been in my place? Would you have not, at least, smiled watching a pot-bellied man fall flat on the ground and tear the seat off his pants?

Come now. Be honest.

Oh, how you shake your head again!

How your beard, all bushy, swings from side to side.

Hah! And will you not blame the cough for making your head shake this time, my love?
Or, do you expect in all seriousness that I will believe…that I will agree when you say you would have kept a straight face were it you, not me, sitting on that railing?

Oh, how you mutter a ‘yes’ in response. No shame at all!

What’s that? The man?

The one in the photo, you mean?

Why yes, I had noticed before, he looks just like you. Did I not mention that already? No? Well I thought I had. Must’ve slipped my mind then. Didn’t feel important to remember anyway.

So where was I…

Yes. Fine then. I concede.

You wouldn’t have laughed at that man in that situation. But I did. If you think that was wrong of me, then wrong it was. Now let it go.

Wasn’t even a fair comparison to begin with, if you ask me.

How so? Well, how fair can it be?

We were three in count and thirteen in age, weren’t we? All girls too.

And you, how old are you - forty-five minimum?

Yet you think it fair to pit the ‘us’ from back then against ‘you’ as you are at this moment?

Oh, how you mutter a ‘yes’ in response again.

No shame at all!

Why I think I should slide off this bed right away. Maybe I will do that, yes.

That mattress on the floor over there doesn’t look too shabby. And your friend I’m sure will be happy to accommodate me. Maybe he will even do as I tell him and move that god-darned frame from that desk.

Don’t you understand how bad it feels with my dad watching?

Well yes, your friend does look unconscious. And it does look like drool running down his cheek. (Or is it vomit?) But how does it matter anyway. You know I’ll have him standing erect within seconds. Not the first time I’ll have got a sleeping man erect, is it?

Stay away!

Stay away, I say!

I never said dad. I said my mum is watching. Why do you lie and add to my anger?

I will leave! I swear I will leave this bed. No use making puppy eyes at me now.

What of your eye ‘condition’, hmm? Or have you forgotten so conveniently now that you ever had one?

Away! Away with your hand!

My belly is not dough that your fingers should be kneading.

And what makes you think I will lie still as you lean into me the way you are right now - with your waist against mine and your other hand slipping towards the small of my back?

Don’t I have a mind to simply bat it away and push you off the bed!

And that bloody frame! You didn’t move it from the desk. The photograph is still facing us.

Can’t you see he is watching?

Is that an apology now that you are mumbling into my neck? Speak up, will you? I can barely hear. Or why not stop rubbing your leg over mine so I can concentrate better?

And what is with your hand moving up to my breast now? How did you think I would not object to you drawing circles around my nipple with your thumb? Or to your finger strumming the single strand of hair on my teat, like a guitar string?

So what if you say my nipple feels erect and my breast fuller than when your arm had grazed it a while back. Am I not the one who will decide if I like it or want you off my chest?

And how he is glaring at us now - through his round spectacles and his bushy beard - don’t you see? Could you not have moved the frame like I asked you?

Speak up! I’m hearing no apology. You might want to put your tongue back in for me to hear correct once you’re done running it along the length of my neck, making it all wet.

So what if it is cold in here. And so what if the blanket is thin. What makes you think I will allow you just for those reasons to squeeze my bosom and fondle my buttocks and love handles the way you are right now?

And didn’t you notice the mouth underneath that beard slit open? The tip of his tongue slither out to lick his lips and slide back in?

Stay away, I say!

I’ve heard no apology, yet here you are taking my hand below your waist, wrapping my palm around you, teaching me how to stroke. Why you smelly old man, what makes you think I will not want to throttle your cock instead? Or worse, scratch off the skin around its head?
But I cannot do it now, can I?

So stern, that gaze! Just like all those years ago.

Those eyes, all big and round, penetrating right through me. All of me.

And his voice, hungry as ever, whispering into my ear, ‘Harder’.

Or is that you, my love. I cannot hear you proper. You’re coughing again.

‘Harder, little girl’ you say?

But I have grown since then. Can you not see, old man?

I am a woman now.

I have become one since the last time you made me stroke it for you; since that night I had confessed to laughing at the stranger who fell, and got disciplined for it.

(I had prayed for him, remember?)

I am a woman now. I know that for sure even if everything else between that night and this has been nothing but an unbroken blur.

I am fuller now. Not just my breasts, but everywhere.

If you ignore the needle-marks on my arms, my feet, my ankles, my thighs and my wrists, you will find that I am beautiful.

And I get wet down there too, you know.

All unlike the last time you had tried.

Ah, but I think you know that bit already don’t you, you smelly old man?

I see you have swatted away my palm from your shaft that has turned stiff and must be throbbing. I see my bosom my buttocks my love-handles no longer hold interest for your hands and your bush-bearded mouth.

I have heard no apologies from you yet - I must repeat - and now you are on top of me, my legs parted wide, you still throbbing, but inside me.

Won’t take long, I’m sure.

Ten minutes and some change.

I see you were offended by that, good sir, even as you groan and cough and cough and groan over me like the sputtering of a battered and ancient motorcycle.

For, although I admit that one is linked to the other, surely you will understand it wasn’t your performance being measured, but only the time till my next needle so I may again space out.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Dog Eat Dog-Food World by C.Suresh

And so I am finally done doing what I should have, more than a year ago.
Reason for delay, you ask?
Well, aside from the on-and-off relationship there seems to be going between me and ‘reading’ these last few months, let’s just say I am quite intimidated by books that fit easily into my pocket but are NOT books that are written by or written keeping in mind simple-minded folk.
Not convinced, you say?
Give you another example, you want me to?
Try Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. (96 pages, that too double spaced!)
Only difference being, after reading Conrad’s peculiar little pocket dynamite, I was as scared and intimidated as I was before I picked it up.
But having finished reading C. Suresh’s peculiar little pocket dynamite, aptly titled A Dog Eat Dog-Food World, I must confess that far from being as intimidated as I was before starting to read, I am now overcome by a most singular smugness, a smugness that comes out in me when I feel I am able to identify with something, like no one else might.
Unlike what the synopsis on the back cover of the book claims, A Dog Eat Dog-Food World, atleast for me, did not come across as a pseudo-history of marketing management that bears no resemblance to the actual history.
Infact, it may well be one of those rare books that, in trying to capture the history of marketing management- metaphorically or otherwise- cuts so right to the chase that it ends up coming closer to the ‘actual’ history than most other tomes written on the subject by knowledgeable experts ever might.
The book begins with an explanation by the author on how history, in the form that is available to us, may or may not be the real deal, considering what gets recorded and what survives the passage of time is but a list of achievements of the few who either achieved something that required them to be ‘active’ or achieved something lesser but still ensured that what they achieved was ‘actively’ promoted.
As in History, so in pseudo-history, concludes the little prologue which I found overall to be humorous but agreeable, and also strangely informative.
(I use ‘strangely’ here because it IS strange when a chapter that has no graphs, no charts, and no details whatsoever of the chronological order of events or incidents that collectively form the term ‘History’, is able to impart- and is also able to convince the reader that what is being imparted is- historical information.)
From there we proceed to meet, one by one, the five main characters of the story, each of whom is introduced at different stages of the telling, perhaps so we, the audience, can enjoy better their standalone idiosyncrasies first before the story advances into more complex territory and pits them against one another even as the grand scheme of things becomes clearer with each passing page.
The premise is Dog and Cat Foods manufacturing, with Spike Fortune, his nephew Jerry Fortune and their Head of Marketing Tyke playing the masterminds behind the former, and Tom Rich with his nephew Jasper Rich forming the reluctant rivals who mastermind the latter. Fortune starts the business because he wants to lose all his money before he dies and doesn’t know how to, and Rich enters the race as prime competitor, because he has never been second to Tom at anything since school days.
The rest as they say is history.
Sounds simple, no? Of course it does.
And simple it is, but only if I am to think of it in one way- that this is but a simplified version of actual history, not just of marketing management but of the entire world of commerce as we see it in present day.
For, as much as I believe that stats and official records have their place of importance and cannot be refuted for a piece of satire that talks in Dog and Cat Foods metaphors, I cannot imagine the history of marketing management (and commerce in general) without a Spike, a Jerry and a Tyke in every place of business that received a mention in the factual history records, and- more so- a Tom and a Jasper in every competing place of business that perhaps didn’t receive a mention on account of it coming second.
Afterall, can it not be said that it requires some level of madness- some form of physical or mental disorder, to the conservative eye atleast- for a person to become an entrepreneur and then a competitive businessman?
And if that is acceptable, then can it also not be said that the men (and women) who made this History of commerce happen will most-certainly have been as- if not more- idiosyncratic as the five characters portrayed in this novella?
Now THAT is what the official records will never tell you. Which is still fine, as I know and acknowledge that functional academics are no place to read about the idiosyncrasies of highly successful people.
But THAT is also exactly what makes A Dog Eat Dog-Food World such a rare book.
Because, once it is stripped of its circuitous albeit lyrical writing, of its light tone, of its laugh-out-loud moments, and of its effective use of a narrative style that most authors would find hard to execute, A Dog Eat Dog-Food World is a narration of these unrecorded facts that are the reason behind everything that is wrong with commerce today.
It is about the sickening condition of today’s corporate environment where employees create invisible fires and douse them noisily to receive recognition and reward without having to do any credible work.
It is about the saddening advent of cellphones and how a piece of plastic and metal gets constantly shoved into our faces as an essential fifth limb that no human can survive without.
It is about 24/7 news channels who, in their need for one-upmanship, have graduated from impartially presenting current affairs to producing useless noise.
And most of all, it is about us, the consumers, the silent protagonists of both History and this story, who allow men of ambition to not just affect our needs and desires, but to outright decide and dictate them for us.
In conclusion, this is one novella I would urge any and every person to read, understand and laugh, then read and understand some more, and smile knowingly.
On a scale of one to five, I will rate this book a solid four, one point being deducted for making me chew on my words from the earlier paragraph where I mentioned that I was far from feeling scared after finishing the book.
For, now that I am done with the review and have read it back to myself, as a modern day consumer, I am suitably petrified.
To order the book click here.