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The Tik-Tik Man October 8, 2008

Posted by K in Abstract Ramblings, contemporary, Faction, Life.
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The Tik-Tik man was always there. Outside the ice-cream parlour, while the rich kids ate, the Tik-Tik man walked up and down, with a sack on his shoulder, and toys in his hands. He would make the Tik-Tik toy go tik-tik every few seconds, hoping the sound would penetrate the ice-cream cones and the traffic jams. He had spectacles and greying hair, a slight figure and an expression of un-envy as car after car would disgorge its contents onto the pavement outside the parlour. College kids, small kids, young couples, and lots and lots of veiled women. Perhaps the Tik-Tik man wondered how they would lick the cones of anjeer ice-cream through the barrier of the veil. Or perhaps the Tik-Tik man said fuck you bitch. Perhaps the Tik-Tik man says fuck you a lot more often than his benign appearance betrays. Fuck you, you piece of shit. Your ice-cream costs twenty eight bucks. Your auto costs another twenty. One way. My toy costs thirty five. And I’m evening willing to negotiate. Fuck you for not having to begin your day at six in the morning and end it at twelve at night. Fuck you for not having to do two jobs to feed your family and put your kids through school. Fuck you for being able to not notice me.

Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

But the Tik-Tik man will probably not utter the ‘f’ word. The Tik-Tik man probably tells himself that his dignity is not ground in dust every second, that he doesn’t mind being just a part of the scenery. I don’t know. What I do know, is that the Tik-Tik man works for an advocate in Andheri in the day time, and sells toys from eight in the evening. The advocate pays him three thousand rupees a month, an amount that I contribute towards my (muchly) shared flat every month, and what I do know, is that it is not enough to sustain his family. The Tik-Tik man has two children who go to college, and the Tik-Tik toys that are bought probably go into the college fund. What I do know, is that the Tik-Tik man sells his wares with good cheer. What I do not know, is why the Tik-Tik man doesn’t hate us more.

I, too, wonder at the patience of the poor in our country.


A Lesser People October 14, 2007

Posted by K in Faction, Uncategorized.
Tags: ,

The matchstick body lay around. Nobody noticed it until I picked it up and claimed it to be mine. Everybody wanted it then. But obviously. I gain visibility only when I stick my neck out and claim a possession. You see, I was born possession-less, and that’s how they want me to remain. I am poor, and so it shall be.

There are rich people. I don’t know if I hate them. But one day, I want to be rich. I don’t care how. I don’t want just my 3 meals a day; great if they come, but they shall remain insufficient. I want more. I demand more.

But how. They say you can do what you want. But my teachers don’t teach at school. Volunteers come to my slum and teach. We have fun, but they go eventually. They have thirty hours to complete here.

So how do I become rich? How do I compete in all your examinations? Without electricity. Without a room of my own, or even a room to share. Without a coaching centre. Without reference books. Without everything that you used to begin preparing for your exam. And then you say it’s unfair to keep reservations. I agree. You see, life has already reserved a berth for you in your journey. I object to that.


88% of Scheduled castes and tribes live on less than Rs.20 a day. Twenty rupees.

Malapade Tankade July 4, 2007

Posted by K in Faction, Fiction, Uncategorized.

Malapade Tankade climbed a tree.

What? Were you expecting a story? This is not a story. Why should there be a story just because you expect one?

Why can’t a person just write ‘Malapade Tankade climbed a tree’ without carrying the invisible burden of expectations? Or not so invisible…you just said something, didn’t you? *Points accusing finger at you* You made a Tcheh! sound and said what crap is this, instead of a story I get an explanation of why it isn’t a story.

No matter, you can tcheh! and pah! away to glory, but this still ain’t a story. This ain’t even about Malapade Tankade. Infact, I don’t even know is there is a Malapade Tankade. Or if any parent would be crazy enough to name their child Malapade Tankade…

But then again, if parents can name their only offspring ‘Lona’ (as Lona will most unhappily tell you), then the existance of a Malapade Tankade is highly probable.

If(mind you…IF. This STILL ain’t a story, but IF it were…) Malapade Tankade would have existed, she would have climbed a tree. And decided immediately that tree climbing was not her cup of scented jasmine tea.

She tore her frock(yes, the silly fool wore a frock, and a white one at that…), scraped her dainty little knee and chipped a nail that promised to grow into a salon talon soon enough.

And she was all of three.

See, the kid was smart. At that that tender little age itself, she had figured out that there must have been a purpose behind her name (I mean, Malapade Tankade…??). She put two and two together( or atleast as well as a three year old can put ANYTHING together…) and reached te conclusion that her parents secretly expected tomboyish bahaviour from her. So she climbed a tree.

Everything in life has a purpose, and the purpose of this climb was to reveal to the world and its brother that Malapade Tankade would make a lousy tomboy.

Thus age three onwards, Malapade Tankade became a full-fledged girl. You know…the kinds you read about…nailpolish, hair care, sentiments, ‘softness’…It took some instruction…she did not become such a perfect girl naturally, as she herself will admit. She got on fine enough with the books, but felt the need of a tutor for certain concepts. ‘Softness’ for example…it took her a week to realise that it referred to physical softness And Other Things, and another to realise that ‘softness’ was a far-reaching, multi-layered concept that could be understood by very very few.

Everyone will admit that she was a worthy pupil.

Age three passed, and other ages came and went. Malapade Tankade grew. As a Woman.

Age forty four saw her in the process of enhancing the feminity of her femaleness. Don’t ask me…I didn’t create the concept…

“Look, Arjun! An invite!”

Grunt, went Arjun. (Who was Arjun? The boyfriend of four years. Live-in partner of four hours.)

“They have asked me to compere at a film premier!”

Grunt, went Arjun.

M. Tankade looked at the gold-embossed card and hungrily sucked up every word in it. Eventually-

“It’s an award winning film. An Oscar nominee!”

Grunt, went Arjun.
“Pass me the coffee,” went Arjun. The live-in partner of (now) four hours, thirty minutes.

Malapade Tankade will henceforth be referred to as M.T. It is too long a name to type, damn you. (What are YOU complaining about…you got your god-damn story, didn’t you?)

M.T got her hair done. M.T starched a saree. M.T went from door to door, tripping in anticipated glory.

The day dawned bright, the day dawned early. (The piece of log beside her lay naked, self-absorbed and happy.)

(Damn you.)

M.T was excited. Why was M.T excited? You’re so smart, why don’t you figure it out.

M.T bit her nails…M.T got ready to take the test of fire.M.T…got her first shock…her neck wouldn’t move. The bloody barber had superglued her hair strands to each other (It will look good, maam…sleek and perfect…)

(Damn you.)

Shock number two: the auditorium is empty. No, wait..she sees somebody come in. Oh, it’s a family. And they’ve brought a baby! A baby on her debut night! What if it screeched (it did)…?What if it did baby things(it did)…?

Shock numbers three and four came thick and fast: it was a Marathi film, and it had no sex,city or glamour.

Malapade Tankade(What? I made the rule…I can break it.) swallowed her disappointment with her spit and strode towards the stage.

“Where are you going, maam…the doctors must speak first…”

Malapade Tankade’s lips wobbled, but M.T soldiered on. Your Time Will Come, Eddie had told her( Had I been a character in this not-story, I would have stepped in at this point and told you tsk-tsking readers that Eddie was screwing with her. He just wanted a piece of her. Literally. There’s been a chunk missing from his posterior since Steve strapped him down during the X-Factor cover shoot. And then I would have pointed mockingly at you and laughed as you would, doubtless, have pushed back your chair in disgust, shot off a letter to the editor complaining about obscene innuendos and graphic imagery. So it’s a good thing that I ain’t a character, eh? Good for you and me; not so good for M.T, coz she don’t get to know that Eddie is screwing with her.)

So she decides to grab Time’s collar and haul herself up The ladder. She simpers on stage (Page 32, column 1) swishes her saree and coos to the audience (pages 2 and 3; both columns).Round One to me, she thinks, and waits for the movie to end.

The movie ends.

The sound of melting candy-floss assaults the ears of the movie-goers. They escape as the last bit about ‘hope’ and ‘true meaning of life’ struggles to sock them in the balls(Or places where the balls should have been. Women are a mistake, don’t you know…)

Malapade Tankade got off the podium.

Malapade Tankade exited the auditorium.

Malapade Tankade wished she had never met Arjun.

(What? Now you expect me to explain the ending? Pshaw…who DOES that?! Figure it out on your own. And remember to send me a postcard when you’re there. Use Owl Post. I’ll probably be out, roving for Love)

Through The Looking Glass… February 9, 2007

Posted by K in Faction, Life.

Lona, yes the one with the unfortunate name, turned the last page of the book and sat back in her chair. Iago, she mused. Iago had power, unbelievable power. Each and every speech of his was poisoned with deceitful suggestion. His words played on minds, introduced doubts and sowed suspicion where none ought have existed. He lulled, licked and snaked his way into the darkest interiors of hidden minds. And oh! He was so effective.

The next day, returning from school, Lona realised that Shakespeare’s brilliance lay in holding up a mirror and inviting the world to look in.

Hypocrite November 27, 2006

Posted by K in contemporary, Faction, Life.

Lona had a terrible day in school. And for a change, it had little to do with her name. Much as she failed to realise why her otherwise sane parents would name her, their only child, Lona(!!), she had to acknowledge that today was a horrible day for other reasons.

Lona had a secret: she liked school. As far as secrets go, this was hardly worth the effort- afterall, it wasn’t as if she smoked or drank- but if you considered the fact that she was a teen almost out of her teen years, you would understand why it would have to be kept under wraps or risk being excommunicated. Admitting that one liked an occasional class was as far as the rope would stretch; beyond that, snap! You were on your own. And much to her dismay, she found she wasn’t ready to be on her own as yet.

The corollary to liking school, was liking and even hero worshipping teachers. Not all, mind; there is always the distinction between admiration and arse licking, and she for one clearly saw the line. Teachers, for her, were a special species. They were the answers to earth’s problems. They would change the history of mankind, they would nudge a steadily unequal world into a more equal set up. They saw the wrongs and the wronged, and told you to see as well. Weren’t they amazing? What was there NOT to like in them? She identified with what they said (never mind that further aged her by forty odd years(or so they said))

Her day shattered when her idols fell down, nay, crashed, clumsily down, shattering into a million pieces that she neither could, nor had the inclination to, find and put together. What do you do when the ground beneath your feet shifts and gives an almighty lurch? What do you hold on to, when the other pillars also suddenly become suspect? Do you knock on wood, testing for solidity? Or do you tremble like a fool? Lona trembled. Fool! She cursed herself. Why should hypocrisy leave her school intact? It plagued the world didn’t it? But but but! Screamed a voice in her head, they speak against hypocrisy! They condemn hypocrisy! HOW CAN THEY BE HYPOCRITES THEMSELVES!

Lona looked coldly out of the window. The conversation she overheard, played back in her head. “He’s from an OBC school.” No effort to keep the voice down, no acknowledgement of the fact that from whichever angle one viewed that statement, it ought to make the utterer crippled with guilt, ought to make her stay curled in bed for the rest of her life.

The rope snapped.