Very short stories – Summer Rains

When it rains in Bangalore on a hot caustic summer evening, you smell the wet trees, their flowers now smashed to pulp, you see the sodium vapour lamps highlighting the drops, the running people, escaping bikes and the kid walking ever slowly. Ah summer rains, reminds me of home and then Pilani and the myriads of beautiful moments. I am just a grown up kid decorated with beard!

The Top Floor

7:00 A.M. 16 – Jul – 2007 Monday

Lift was falling down into an abyss. I heard screams, “Wake up!” I was trying hard to open my eyes. My heart palpitated. The more I forced the more difficult it was to open my eyes. Limbs felt paralyzed, frozen. I lay like that battling till a drop of water fell from the roof of the lift. I jolted back to my senses.

”Wake up! Your phone’s been ringing for a while.” I came back to life from a dream that now faded fast into a distant past before I could grab it. I tried to close my eyes tightly in a last ditch effort to reenter the dream but simply couldn’t. It slipped away from me. Exasperated, I left the dream and opened my eyes wide. Tenth day after my girlfriend’s death and I was not out of my depression yet. My dreams were getting crazier by the day.

Another two drops of water were about to fall from my roommate Madhu’s hands to my eyes. I had one or two seconds to beat gravity and block those. “Dei, your dad had called. 16 missed calls till now.” I jumped up and shouted, “Why did you not wake me up before?” We were in my first year out of college, our first job and five of us college-mates were staying in a rented apartment.

“Psycho, you were sleeping like a stone! Completely unresponsive to my shouts.”

“Alright. Leave it.”

I rang back my dad. As soon as he picked up the phone he shouted, “Where were you all these while? Get ready and run to the Railway Station. Advance reservation for train tickets for September holidays starts today. Booking starts at 8:00 a.m. and the tickets will be over in 15-20 minutes. It is seven already…” I didn’t wait to hear the rest. I threw the phone down, grabbed my towel and rushed inside our single bathroom apartment. I didn’t have much belief in the online portal. My credit card request was yet to be approved anyways. I had no other way but to go to the booking office in person to get this done.

My roommates started banging on my door. “Fucker, it is not your turn.” I ignored the loud bangs and bathed as fast as I could. Still it took 5-10 minutes roughly. On that day, one guy would miss his office bus, another late for his office meeting, another one late for his entrance coaching, and the last one would be late for his newspaper reading slot on the toilet. The moment I came out, there was a big fight with my friends. While each them were taking turns cursing me, I quickly dressed up and escaped to the bakery beneath our rented apartment. I checked the time on the clock precariously perched on the shop wall.

7:23 A.M.

I grabbed a newspaper, a sweet bun and asked for the directions to the ticket booking center enroute to my office.  Waving an autorickshaw, I shouted, “Multi-Utility building”.

“Meter + 15 Rupees, Sir.”

With no time to argue, I jumped in and asked him to rush.

I felt bad having quarrelled in the morning. I should have woken up early. I thought about sending a “Sorry” to my roommates. Searching for the phone, I realized that I had left it on the bed in my hurry. Purse, ATM card, watch, medicines? Good lord, those were inside the laptop bag. Saved. I checked the time. Shit, missed my morning dose. Water bottle? Empty! I should have taken my morning medication by now.

7:38 A.M.

“Ok. So where is the building?”

“Right behind you.” The driver said stopping the vehicle as I jumped out counting the currency notes.

“The 28 floor building! This one?”

“Yes sir.” I paid him and dashed into the ground floor lobby. This was one of the tallest building that I had seen in my life till then. The building looked archaic and unmaintained. I could smell urine right at the entrance itself. Typical of public places everywhere in India but not expected in this huge building!

There wasn’t much crowd in the building. Luckily, there was a direction board with all the floors and the offices on each of them. I scanned it. I couldn’t find the ticket booking center on it. The top three floors’ information was smudged, partially gone due to paint erosion. More than the paint it felt as though time had corroded the entire building. It was peeling off from everywhere possible – walls, top roof, grill doors, every inch of it. It hasd last seen a fresh coat of paint probably a decade back. I checked the time.

7:45 A.M.

I had 15 more minutes. Not an issue once the floor was found. I approached the lift and waited. It was an ancient chain lift, 4 of them side by side. It looked old, and rickety when compared to impressive OTIS lifts at my office. I could hear the noise of one coming down. Lifts were placed parallel in a narrow lift lobby. Each lift opens to a small space in front of it and the lobby wall behind. The end of the lobby was a really narrow fire escape. I wondered whether anyone could escape from this building practically. It took long 5 minutes for one to come down. An senior gentleman somewhere in his 70’s walked out of the tiny lift when it opened.

“Train ticket booking office?”

“The Top Floor!”

I jumped into the lift and pressed the top floor. After 27th the rest of the buttons were again dissolved by time. I wondered why the rest looked new. Three other folks came running and got into the lift before the door could close. They pressed the respective floors. One of them seem to press the top row – May be the top floor – booking station perhaps.

7:53 A.M.

Lift struggled to move up. It was excruciatingly slow. I could hear the mechanical noise of the chains lifting us above. The katrak- katrak-tak noise sounded like those roller coasters being pulled up the elevation before the first big drop. My heart paced as if I were literally on one of them. There was no fan and we started sweating. It was completely shut from all the sides with no transparent glass sides for the lift. I felt claustrophobic.  The lady inside the lift got down at the 10th floor and the middle aged man on the 18th. I noted that there was the 13th floor in the building and thought Indians never had these the fear of the number 13th. Then there was only another man in the lift. The lift slowly approached the top. The small display on the top showing the floor was functional but some LED lights were out.

21 – I

22 – Inverted C

23 – Again Inverted C

24 –

25

26

27

28

29

The lift opened. I jumped out. As I turned around I noticed the other man had not got down but went down again with the lift. A helpless look remained in his face as the lift door closed in front of him. ‘Strange!’ I wondered ‘Where was he going? It did not open anywhere between 18th and the top also! Hmm…’ I checked my watch and turned around to the room entrance.

8:01 A.M.

The room was locked with a determined 8-lever lock and a certain chain. Confused, I turned around. I skipped heartbeats 2, 3 many as I realised there was no staircase. immediately, had went to the lift button, I got a mild shock. Button was missing! and the lift display was flickering as it was inside the building.

No lift button, no staircase, chained room. I ran towards the lone window. I could see entire of MG Road all the way until Chinnaswamy stadium and the rising UB city skyscrapers beyond. I felt a sweat drip start right from head down my neck through my spine until I could feel no more. I was numb and in the window sill I could see my face turn pale.

Trapped!

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What happens now?

Does he get out?

Or all this imagined?

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The Meat Shop

'The_Butcher's_Shop',_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Annibale_Carracci

A black wall – Credits

A hot humid room. Incandescant light. 100W bulb may be. There is a song playing in the background on a cheap speaker, probably a mobile speaker or a cheap FM radio. It is an Ilayaraja song (or aadukalam song). It is not loud but faintly audible. It is unnaturally quiet. Broken only by the speaker’s noise.

Nondescript chatter begins…

The wall shown is dirty. Paint peeling off here and there. There are blood stains on the wall. A few palm impressions in blood on the wall.

As we look to the right, a calendar with a big picture of Jesus Christ, Shiva and Muslim scripture hangs. Ajanta lamps is written in the bottom of the small calendar. Days are crossed out till January 23rd, 2014. A blinking array of serial lights decorate the wall above the calendar.

Nondescript chatter slowly becomes clear…

Voice 1 – A 45 some voice commands, “Do it correctly. We have to drain every last drop of blood before the heart stops beating. That is proper halal cut. A little bit to the right.”

Voice 2 – A 30-35 voice – “ok” (with a nodding head)

Our eyes move ahead. There is a plug point and a charger is connected. Our eyes move down to a mobile phone FM in loudspeaker mode with headphones connected. Our eyes move ahead to a set of knives used for butchering. Our eyes move ahead to the light source above the knives.

Voice 1 – “Recall the last time? One customer brought back the stuff. I gave him a new one and a discount. What was it – mutton or chicken?”

Voice 2 – “I remember. Mutton.”

Exhaust fan is off but rotating with the faint wind. There is a morning sunshine outside. Faint light.

Song stops. Power goes off.

Voice 2 grumbles. Voice 1 no response. Heavy breathing. May be there is a third person in the room!

Light comes back. Chicken crying noise!

Our eyes moves to the right. We see mutton, chicken and other non vegetarian items hanging upside down. Light blinks.

Our eyes continue moving. We see a a pair of human legs tied upside down. Our eyes move forward. Another set of mutton and chicken limbs.

We are shocked and eyes pan back to the legs. It struggles once and becomes still.

Light goes off.

Credits…

Storyboard

Scene 1:

Single shot sequence. Long Take. Single person POV.

Inside a minimally lit single butcher shop. Most probably has a 100W bulb in the center of the room. Early morning hours.

Camera is placed in the entry of the room placed in the center turned at 90 degrees to its left.

FM Radio running. Nondescript chatter.

Shot

Exhaust fan (rotating due to natural wind and pressure difference) on the right side of the screen.

Credits rolling out on the left side of screen. Credit ends and shot starts panning.

Panning speed slow – define frames per second.

Exhaust fan connected to power to a plug board.

Panning starts

Camera traces exhaust fan cable to the switch board. It has 3 plug points.

First one is connected to fan.

Second one connected to a mobile phone adapter.

Third one to serial lights.

We trace second one down to mobile phone.

FM is playing on it.

Panning continues at that level

There are couple of butcher knives with blood a few feet to the right.

Voice 1 – A 45 some voice commands, “Do it correctly. We have to drain every last drop of blood before the heart stops beating. That is proper halal cut. A little bit to the right.”

Voice 2 – A 30-35 voice – “ok” (with a nodding head)

Camera starts moving up the light source on the wall which is a serial light.

We find a calendar with days crossed out till January 2014.

A calendar with a picture of Jesus Christ, Shiva and a Muslim scripture hangs. Ajanta lamps is written in the top of the small calendar. The blinking array of serial lights decorate the wall above the calendar and goes to the left of the screen.

Panning continues at that level – head level.

We continue at that level to the right.

We see mutton, chicken and other non vegetarian items hanging upside down.

Power off

Voice 2 grumbles. Voice 1 no response. Heavy breathing. May be there is a third person in the room!

Light flickers and our eyes continue moving. We see a a pair of human legs tied upside down. Our camera / eyes move right as if nothing happened. Another set of mutton and chicken limbs.

After a second eyes pan back quickly to the human legs. The hung human legs struggles (wriggles) once more and goes still.

Light goes off completely.

Last shot:

Melting painting on left side with credits rolling on the right.

~ Trilok ~

From an Election Diary

Dedicated to this Election

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Now that all is over, I mean this election
Isn’t it time for some patient reflection?
Queued is a frustrated India waiting for a hopeful resurrection,
In an election fought hard and bad with words filled with objection.

Some leaders you disliked and many you worshiped; they all fed on your affection,
When rallies traveled to far-off places of voter action
Moods fluctuated, colors changed and glamour waned when warned of inaction.
A silent reminder, it was, of the power in that voting button selection.

Oil and water were people they claimed and split in to bar charts on television,
Would never mix these elements claimed experts of misdirection.
Will the experts stand in front of people’s jury for introspection?
Ha, they were showmen raking TRPs like casino-goers doing point collection.

Those empty stomachs and quiet wails without a vision,
Will benefit from our proud selection,
Is but a dream waiting to be real for years in collection!
This is but another chance waiting for course correction.

Now that all is over, I mean this election,
What will I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with no spice on TV for selection,
Curd rice in canteen now goes back to that stale plate of infection,
and with colleagues, I wonder, what will be my common point of discussion!

Now that all is over, I mean this election,
Can I go back to work and strive for that promising promotion?

 

  ~Trilok~

Poetry – Are you mad?

Someone asked me – Why do people write poems? Why do we need poems? I do not read any? I read lots of novels. I listen to music, songs, hip hop, rock, even rap. But never a poem. The last time I read one was during my early school days when I was taught a few.

I told him – Sane enough. Poetry is never meant to be read in any case. It is written as a means of expressing one’s own deep feelings of love, of hatred, of victory, of failure, of elation, of depression, of betrayal, of fear. Ask me what not! Poetry is a private affair. It’s a love between the creator and the medium of recording. They make love and out of that wedlock emerges a creation. For some it is music, for some prose, for a few others poetry. They remain sometimes as timeless pebbles underneath the ocean, sometimes discovered and shone light, to bloom and on its flowers the bees sit, sing and get drunk, carry a few pollen along with them spreading the song, new plants are sown and new flowers are born, by when the one which bloomed first might have wilted and gone, the fragrance still lingers on the stone, only to be washed away by an angry river, later picked up again by a curious kid in another land, in another era, to be felt, smelt and reborn. Its …

I was interrupted – You are mad!

I said – I guess I am. Wait, I had not finished yet…

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Why this question now? Of late my friends have been asking me to explain the funda regarding my strange ID. It is being used in my blog name, domain ids, my GitHub Id, my tags etc. So what exactly is this? I stumbled upon this idea during my school days while learning algorithm. It is just an alternate representation of my name. People have been calling me Threelok, ThreeLog, Trilock, Trylock etc. One of these misspelled representation or mispronunciation gave me this idea to think of my name as a mathematical expression derivation of which is given below.

LogRCubed = Log [R]3

                          = 3 Log R

= 3 Lok R

= Three-Lok R

= Trilok R

Hence the Name and the Strange ID! Phew… Thus explained this mysterious name.

So again, what is in a name? Many a things, most importantly “being you”…