Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Unholy Confluence

It was the coldest day in about a decade,they said. The news channels and papers were full of it. “thand se behaal janta”, screamed one channel; “thand ki maramari”,said another.
Bhen ke l***e,he said. You don’t have any right to talk about how cold it is,sitting in a centrally heated room with plush interiors,elaborately covered from head to toe,sipping a cup of steaming hot coffee. You’ve got to be outside,on the roads,fighting a losing battle with the merciless elements of nature. You’ve got to know how it feels like when ice cold winds rush in through a stuck window,steamrollering a meek defence in the form of a shredded blanket and cut through your bones. You’ve got to know the futile attempts involved in getting some circulation to go through your benumbed hands. You’ve got to know what it takes to steer an ailing taxi through dense fog with those hands.

Well,they were correct to some extent. It definitely was the coldest day ever.  He was shivering from head to toe, partly because of the cold, and partly because of rock bottom alcohol reserves in his system. He held the steering wheel firmly, to get a grip on himself. It wouldn’t work.  Nothing would work. He simply needed spirit. He had just finished work, and was about to wheel it for the nearest watering hole, when he was flagged down by a rather agitated couple near the flyover. 

Their car had broken down, apparently. What caught his attention however, was the woman.  He saw more skin than clothes.  He had no intention of taking them anywhere,not when alcohol was waiting,but the cleavage and assets and all relegated alcohol to second spot. “kahaan jaana hai?” 
“Bhai rpm lounge hai basant lok mein,wahaan chod de” ,
 “400 loonga,ulta padhega” ,
“tu 1000 le le bhai,seedha kara de”.
They seemed filthy rich,and he was ripping them off senseless. He didn’t mind,he saw it as an exercise for reducing the gap between rich and poor. The woman didn’t seem happy with her partner’s bargaining,and she was rattling off sentence after sentence in chaste English. The gentlemen seemed to be reciprocating in kind. He didn’t mind, he had dedicated all his senses to the rear view mirror.
“Step on it,will you? We are already late,this party is pretty important for me. “
“Well you are distracting me with that rather risqué dress preference of yours,madame,tu ekdum maal hai yaar,gaadi kaise chalaaoon?”
“Shut up and keep driving,douchebag, its an A list party,man!”
“I cant for the life of me understand whats so special about the party. You’ll start off with being slightly tipsy,you ll then graduate to being Her Holy Highness,and you ll top it off with being freelance cotwarmer. Whats the difference?”
“Hey am I dreaming or is it actually smoke coming outta the bonnet?”
“Well,you surely aint dreaming,lady..  We have a problem”
“Pull over and see if you can fix it no?”He pulled over. He checked if it could be fixed. It couldn’t.
“It cant be fixed”
That’s approximately when the lady lost it.
“What the f**k do you mean by you cant fix it??! Bloody useless vermin,try and get a taxi then!”
There seemed to be no taxis around,everyone had called it a day rather early,and the few on the roads were in a hurry to get off it. Except for one cabbie,though.  Well it was clear what prompted him to hit the brakes though, a minimally clothed female always tilts things in your favour.
. “kahaan jaana hai?” 
“Bhai rpm lounge hai basant lok mein,wahaan chod de” ,
“400 loonga,ulta padhega” ,
“tu 1000 le le bhai,seedha kara de”.
“Are you f***ing mad??!! He s ripping you off man!What nonsense is this! Its barely 4 kilometres away are you in your senses!!?”
“If you have not noticed by now,you have miraculously managed to attract the attention of a dozen  odd lecherous eyes,the best thing to do would be to get you indoors as soon as possible,so shut up and play along for once”
She had worked him up considerably,and as much as she liked bossing him around,she didn’t like it when he was in one of those moods. She knew how to cheer him up. Her agile,nimble hands slowly slid along his lean physique and came to rest roundabouts the crotch.
“What do you think you are doing??! This is a taxi for god’s gracious sake stop it !!”
That’s when he saw another pair of the lecherous eyes he was talking about staring at the duo in the rear view mirror.
“kya dekh raha hai bhen***d gaadi chalaa sharaafat se!!”
He was now positively livid. Well,so much for trying,she thought.
He had completely forgotten the fact that he was  the one driving the cab. The rear view was the only thing that mattered now. Heck,even those movies they showed at the theatre didn’t have such sensational females.. Subtlety and wind became one, this was now shameless ogling. Things had started to increasingly mirror the movies,the car may as well drive itself for all he cared,he had totally given in to carnal pleasures.

“kya dekh raha hai bhen***d gaadi chalaa sharaafat se!!”

Well,all good things come to an end rather rapidly. The cold and the shivering and the alcohol craving and the honking and the steering wheel  and the road all came back in an explosion of sight,smell,sound,taste  and touch. There was an awkward silence in the cab,and he drove on,looking resolutely at the road,with the feeblest of glances towards the rear view.
They were at a traffic junction now. Even the homeless seemed to have found some sort of lodging to go to,the junction was devoid of all hawkers and beggars,except for one kid,who presently came up to the taxi.. He didn’t seem to be in good shape. Tattered blanket,tattered clothes,skeletal figure..
“chutta nahi hai,nikal yahaan se”;said the guy.. He still seemed to be angry.. That more or less remained the mood till he dropped them off at the lounge,and shot off for the nearest bar.
It seemed to be a rather busy day for the morgue guy. All hell had broken loose in the city. Lit up lounges,illicit liquor,winter related deaths.. He was at his wit’s end.. He was having a tough time getting people to identify bodies of their folks,and to compound matters,almost all his colleagues had gone on leave:he was severely shorthanded.. He was nearing the end of his shift,and the replacement guy hadn’t turned up. He could take no more,he decided to close up the morgue and leave. It was when he was switching off the lights that he noticed the 4 unidentified bodies in the corner. 2 were charred beyond recognition; that would be the lounge fire, he said to himself.. Then there was this boy they picked up off the streets..A victim of the coldwave.. And then there was the hooch tragedy guy.. He was impressed with his memory.. Aging didn’t seem to have any effect on it.. 
His attention went back to the corpses. He somehow was fascinated by the way they lay,in eternal slumber. It was as if Death whispered a lullaby.*
PS:* Credits due @opeth for the lovely ,lovely song title


Sriram said...

Whoa man. I like the way your fiction brings in a qt feel somewhere through it, and this one is different from the rest of it by the way it weaves back and forth in time. Lurches, that's the word.
Loved the hindi peppered in liberally as well. Cheerio :D

totalliemeh said...

Ah nice timing. Aa oru Midnight in Paris feel. No, this has no connection whatsoever, but settings was easy to imagine. You have preserved that subtle quality of mystery, saying only what is absolutely essential and leaving the reader guessing what happened. Loved the way in which you narrated the characters. Also, that repetition of scenes from two different perspectives. the taxi driver, the couple. same dialogues heard by different people. I liked that. All in all, a very nice post. If I may make a small suggestion- write happy posts too no? You are the most easy going, fun loving simple person I know. :P :) Ithrem rosham venda. write something funny next. Dabble in genres.

Turn the goddamn fucking verifications off!! they all filter spams now!!! geex.