May 29, 2008


I looked at the sky. It was sunny, perfect after a long bout of rain. It was one of those days when you know nothing could possibly go wrong. One of those days when you have a spring in your step, and a song on your lips..even if you are not in love. I looked at my phone. It beeped. ‘I am ready’, said my friend. ‘Finally’, I SMSed back. Suraj was my best friend. And he was always late. We wanted to go eat the Chicken Kebabs at this roadside shop in Sheshadripuram.

‘Rupa, come and eat dinner’ mom called out.

‘Ma, I told you, I am going out with Suraj’

‘Not to that chicken kebab place again!’ Mom always knew what I was up to.

‘Of course not, we are going to that new vegetarian restaurant on Church Street’ I tossed back.

‘Alright, stop lying, go get your chicken kebab’ she said as she shut the door behind me.

Suraj had his fancy bike with him. He would never listen to anyone who said that the cops always caught the fancy bikes as would the thugs on the streets. His girlfriend was the only one that didn’t complain about the bike, and only because she was jealous of it. I always did try to remember each one’s names, but the latest one was probably called Nikita. Or was it Swati? I forget which.

‘Hey, what’s the name of your latest?’ I asked him.

‘Ouch, that hurt! She has lasted two months you know; it’s time for you to remember the name!’

‘I am proud of you. So what was the name again?’ I asked, as we sped away.

The chicken kebabs, as usual, were delicious. But there was something in the air that I couldn’t place. ‘Not rain again’ I groaned, as Suraj started sniffing the air too.

‘Its not rain memsaab’, the kebab guy screamed as he stood still. ‘Its them! They are coming after us! Run’ he said, as he took off into the crowd. His cart stayed the way he left it, with bits of half cooked chicken floating in the oil. The chutney he used had spilled a little into the oil, and went out in a blue flame as it died away in the oil. I noticed a yellow leaf dance from above the tree onto the cart. Everything seemed to happen so slowly. Oh, so slowly. That nanosecond between the kebab guy running away and realization stretched forever. Suraj made a painful grab at my wrist, and yanked me, as I stood, trying to comprehend.

I saw a woman in a pink sari run across the road, screaming madly. She had tiny flowers pitifully embroidered in what she probably hoped was the latest fashion. And now she was running away. Away from what, I wondered, as my brain told me I had to run, and Suraj tried to make me.

And then I saw them. With flaming torches, screaming inaudible phrases, they ran, with a purpose. I do not know who they were, nor do I know their cause. The animal fury on their faces was enough to have me paralyzed on the ground. To see so much anger, to smell the hatred, even from a hundred yards away, was terrifying. Contrast that with the fear on Suraj’s face, and you could see the entire breadth of the human experience.

‘Rupa!’ Suraj screamed into my ear as he revved up the bike. ‘Lets GO!’

I climbed onto his bike, scared for my life, shattered that our innocence was so visibly tainted, as I saw the mob attack a hapless passerby. They knew not his name, being murdered mercilessly by strangers would be his only claim to fame. I was shocked at myself, that I could think these thoughts as everyone’s lives lay in jeopardy. That is the curse of the brain, that it never stops thinking.

I did not read the newspapers the next morning. I forbid anyone from talking to me about it. Yes, we did manage to get to safety, thanks to Suraj’s fancy bike. What I cannot believe is the injustice that man is capable of, what we can do to each other, more harmful than a vengeful God.

Surely He did not intend it this way.


Rush said...

Must clarify to my Tepper-classmates: Suraj is my youngest cousin's name :)

Ramakrishnan R said...

why do you think only your tepper mates deserve a clarification?

BTW, post was good to read.

Rush said...

Hey, thanks! well, i didn realize as i was writing the story that Suraj is also the name of a classmate..and i made three of my roommates (also classmates) read the story, and had to clarify d name each time! :) Chose my cousin's name coz he loves fancy bikes and wants one when hez all grown up!!

Sham said...

Whoz this Suraj? Did he ever study in Army High School near MG Road?

Good writing!
And who went through the experience of the blog u wrote prior to this? ;)

Rush said...

@sham - Thanks! and no, not everyone studied at your school :P

sorry kano that i wrote about your experience :D ;) ha ha ha thanks for sharing the story with me the whole world knows the truth about u now...

Divs said...

Super! Getting back to your writing it seems... neat!

Rush said...

thanks dodo!! :) hopefully i ll write some more!