Flickering lights


R: Not for those who consider themselves minors.

“You know, I love you.”

Darkness was gathering outside, with occasional attempts at countering it conspicuously emanating from the windows of a few apartments strewn all over. But, none of the two made any such attempt. He looked out through the oval vent and wondered if it was the window to the outside world or a barrier in the completeness of his solitude. He somehow could never come to like those tiny illuminated dots in this vast sea of darkness. He did not like the tiny rebellions. They scoffed at the darkness around… and within. He could close the window, but no, that would not change the fact. He had to turn them out himself. And thus, he looked at her for an answer before she answered.

She was taken aback that she had allowed the tea to overboil ever so slightly. Was it his words? She was readying the plates for their snack. And as she answered, she brushed back a wisp of hair that had fallen over her forehead using the back of her hand with disdain that one usually reserves for things of years of acquaintance. That wisp was definitely one of those things–mildly irritating, but persistent in its presence.

“They all say that when inebriated”.

She looked at him from the corner of her eye as she dismissed him. Her gaze returned to the plates fully knowing he would have no answer. How could there be an answer?

He was reclined on the divan–one mattress carelessly thrown over the other. The divan served–both as a sofa as well as a bed. That after all was all the furniture her dwelling required. And a small table, and a chair. But now he slumped forward, his elbows resting on his thighs as the situation summoned greater involvement of his mental faculties.

“Not that kind of love, Munni! I’d love you even if you don’t take it up your ass or suck me off later. I’d love you even if you don’t fake your orgasms. I’m not one of those. You’re getting me?”

Now, this was getting interesting, she thought. A light laughter escaped her mouth, which lingered on as a subdued smile. She was amused.

“So, you are alleging some other kind of love is possible?”

Her heightened interest was the reason she gave him the benefit of her full face, this time moving not just her eyes. Her gaze lingered on his face as he prepared to speak.

“Munni!”

He got up from the seated position, and walked up to the vent behind her. Her gaze stopped following him, and returned to her plates, not sure herself if she was not interested in his answer, or felt better to not show interest.

With his back against the vent, he continued.

“You know, I’ve been observing you for a month, now. I love your zest for life. How you know you want something, and you know what that something is… snatching away from life, one thing after the other despite having nothing to have started with. I love it that those conceited cowards come to you, just wanting to prove their power over you, thinking you to be powerless. I love it when they pump their money into you, as you fake orgasm after orgasm. I love it when they go back, pump their soul into the world, and fake their life, moment after moment. And all the world does in return is spit back at them. You know, they all spit on each other! Gullible bastards!”

She was shocked. Her hands were paralyzed for a moment. Was he speaking standing behind her, or was he a voice in her head?

She turned around to face her fear. She surveyed his face. Calm. Could those fierce words have come from that mouth? Unrevealing. Those folded arms? Unshaking. Those eyes? Blank. Or was it the semblance of illumination peering through the obstructed vent playing tricks on her eyes? Or was it playing tricks on her mind? She concluded, words were his; the fear, hers. Now she too leaned against the kitchen cabinet, half-sitting on it, and folded her arms, trying to match his composure, by trying to match him in his posture. She hoped he could not see her eyes from where he was standing. But she wondered, if he needed to.

“How do you know you’re not one of those gullible bastards?”

“Bastard, I am, but not gullible. And besides, I’m not inebriated, am I?”

A smile played on his lips. But, she was not sure. She was afraid. But, she was not sure. Maybe, it was the darkness getting to her. Maybe, she should put on the lights. But, she was not sure. She was intrigued. She was sure.

“I’ve not even touched you in last two hours!”

He was right, she thought. Most of her customers wanted her to wear some particular dress. Most of the customers would book her only for half-an-hour, and get it done with. Though, she did get occasional jerks, who would book her for two hours because they would want to do it “slow, sensual, filmy” style, but actually end up exhausted in little over an hour–in great parts because of her skill at quickening things up.

But he was different. He was not one of those regular customers. He had not asked her to wear anything specific. He had booked her only for 12 hours–from five in the evening, to five in the morning, yet paid her an advance for 48 hours! His behavior had irked her. This show of ‘goodness’ had got to her. She wanted to take her sweet revenge; as it is, she had got her advance. She decided to wear one of her regular night gowns with Disney motifs, and not wear any makeup, nor arrange the room into any setup, nor wear any fragrance.

But he was nonchalant. He was not affected. He did not ask her to alter anything. He was not one of those regular customers.

“What do you want?”

She asked in her straightest possible voice, trying to keep an edge out of it.

“You!”, he said, with no edge to his voice.

“Meaning? You have me! In fact, I don’t mind even if you actually extend your stay for two days. You’ve after all, paid me!”

“I want to marry you”

At this point a jet of laughter spurted out of her mouth. She laughed uncontrollably, almost falling as she staggered along half the width of her small room. She even clapped her hands, once. She tried to quieten up, and stay still, but her mind replayed his fresh image that had said “I want to marry you”, and she burst out laughing, yet again, this time leaning over the kitchen cabinet and banging her palm against its top. She quietened up as the last milliliters of air in her lungs escaped out in alternate coughs and laughs.

She thought how she had faked her laughter a countless times as her drunk customers would try to impress her with their pathetic jokes, which were insufficient to make their girlfriends and mistresses laugh. And she would slyly watch them smile in satisfaction that would wash away their frustration of being inept jokers. This thought made her laugh again, but she was already feeling lightheaded, and decided she could no longer afford to spend her air.

This was the first time she had not faked her laughter and she felt wonderful.

She stood straight and looked at the source of her joke. Or was he the joke, she wondered as her bout of laughter had made her forget her fear. She decided she could put on the lights.

Both squinted as their eyes bore the sudden assault of illumination. Their eyes met, and she laughed yet again, covering her mouth with her hand, this time regaining composure faster, clearly embarrassed by his certain scrutiny. But she was surprised. He too was smiling–taking in the mirth her pure, uninhibited laughter had exuded. He was not offended in the least. She bit her lip. She was losing her professional touch in his presence. After all, he was a valuable customer, and she could not afford to lose him. Which other duffer would offer her an advance for 48 hours, and do nothing to her, save cracking the occasional hugely entertaining jokes? He was truly valuable!

“What kind of marriage are you suggesting? Wherein, we hold hands, laugh and giggle, go out for movies together, you put your head in my lap in the wet grass, under the Moon and the stars saying a dozen times how much you love me? Then we have children; we name them Chunnu, Munnu? Our children grow up, leave us, and we still hold our hands, and profess our love for each other, saying would like to die before the other? That kind of marriage? That kind of love? The one they show in the movies?”

She laughed yet again at her own description, more circumspect this time, yet with lingering awareness of the lack of control over the self.

He slightly raised his left eyebrow still smiling–the most animated his face had got hitherto, and said, “So are you alleging some other kind of marriage is possible?”

“Yes, of course, the normal kind! Involving gullible bastards!”

The lines between his eyebrows further furrowed as he questioned her, “Between you and me?”

She was taken aback. She realized, they were venturing into territories where she had no experience. Her profession and life had not taught her how to ramble quasi-philosophically about love and marriage. She sought to bring the course of events to her territory. The well rehearsed moans, calculated depth and rhythm of her inhalations and exhalations, critically timed feigned gasps, opening and closing of eyes in slow motion.

“I’m not one of those regular customers.”

The joke was turned on her now. She was desperate. She had to be quick. She lowered her gaze gently, and made calculated adjustments in her voice to make is sound optimally sultry, keeping in mind the keen perceptiveness of one she was dealing with.

“That means, you’ll just stand there. You say you love me, and you don’t even feel like touching me, dear?”

She was half-expecting him to dole out some filmy line like “touching of souls”, or some such crap, and bracing to avoid laughing at him.

But instead, he took a gentle step forward. “I never said that!”

There was something about him that frightened her. Though, he did not pounce on her, only took a step forward, there was a certain suddenness about him; not the quickness of his motions, but their inherent unpredictability. She had moved up a lot in life, and more than her appearance, it was owing to her ability to understand people, to be able to extrapolate, and thus, anticipate what they wanted, and what she could extract from them. She was a master judge of people. But not of him. He was not one of those regular customers. This frightened her. She had thought his approaching her would make her feel comfortable, but it only made her heart beat faster. She remembered to try to quicken her breath, but it was already quickened!

He came and placed his hands gently around her waist, but somehow their grip seemed inescapable to her. He regarded her face, and twined his fingers in that wisp of hair on her forehead. He pushed it back gently and placed his lips on her forehead. She raised only her eyes, not moving her head, trying to come to know better her fear of the unknown. Now, with his hands behind her back, his lips were tickling where her nose was about to end. She was having a hard time controlling the rate of her breath. Her instincts told her to return all of his money, and bid him goodbye forever. Her breath was racing and she wondered if he even breathed!

His lips met hers, and a primal fear gripped her as she tried to push it away through her tongue in his mouth, by now.

She felt like a four-year-old-kid having forgotten her rhyme midway, and the entire class and teachers looking at her with bated breath to continue.

Her practice had failed her in this moment, and she mumbled in her body language. She thrust forward her hips a bit too jerkily. She tried to hold his neck with her hands, not knowing if to place them a centimeter below or centimeter above where they had ended up. She was thinking where had she kept that money he had given her as an advance.

Then suddenly, he moved back. But she felt as if he had pushed her.

“Do you find me attractive?”

“Umm…”

“Are you feeling turned on?”

She just half-shrugged her shoulders, and released and installment of air that had felt trapped just like her. That was her reply.

“Then why are you pretending to?”

His voice was raised by now. She could sense a touch of what she thought to be emotion. Or was it merely his proximity. She regarded his questions. Attractive? She had learned to classify men only on the bases of how much pain could the potentially inflict on her in their attempt of display of power over her. Where was the question of frigging attractiveness? Turned on? Yes, she felt turned on, like her MP3 player would, on pressing the PLAY button, and it would dole out the preloaded songs. And that is what she had just tried to do! What “turned on” was he talking of? The kind of turned on her customers felt, drunk, thinking her to be Tiffany, or alternatively, Anarkali when she would teasingly reveal her body parts? How could she feel that way for him? Or, anyone? What was the need? Her thoughts glossed over the absurdity of his expectations, and she felt like giggling, like a naughty student suppressing her laughter standing before a teacher shouting with ominous anger.

“I think you’re not prepared for me yet.”

“Gaut…”

Just as she opened her mouth to speak he added, “But eventually, you would be.” He then turned back and asked her, “You were saying something?”. But she knew, what he meant was he was not going to buzz off.

She could not find her voice, and a “no” escaped her mouth. She cursed herself. That was not what she had wanted to say!

He went to the divan and collapsed on it, and squealed with the bubbly enthusiasm of a three-year-old, “I’m hungry, Munni! Can we eat something?”

They drank their tea, only mildly warm by now, and started having pakoras for their slow dinner.

They started telling their stories. A year of life per pakora, and couple of years per sip of tea.

She had got into the business ten years back when she was fourteen, pushed into it by the warden of her orphanage. Over the years, she had come to wonder what was it that other people did in their lives? What made them gather so much frustration in their lives just to try to own a large house? To be able to travel in their own cars? What pushed them to wait for that seventh day of the week they used to call “holiday”? What was it that made a child look longingly at a poster displaying an ice cream? What was it that made people wear shades even in dark and made them feel somehow superior to others who did not? What made people stand outside the multiplexes to watch feigned lives?

She had never understood any of those things. All of them required one thing–money. She could indeed indulge in pleasures–one-by-one, on occasions. But no, she did not want to do that. She wanted to have so much money that she would never again require to count how much she would be left each time she were to spend.

With time she had learned that buying clothes a shade lighter, heels an inch shorter, and applying a lipstick a shade shy-er, would not allow people to make out that she was not one of them. Though, she had known how to read, and somewhat, to write, her manner of speaking would still give away she was different. She read books, watched movies, learned to speak English. Eventually, she also learned to fake her accent as well as all her customers and their female toys had learned to fake. The sound of h after all the hard consonants, the unuttered r at the end of words. She started using French words, too. That was her another milestone. How to convolute the tongue in the mouth to “gedet rayht”.

She started going to the gym, doing the same repetitive exercises, day-after-day, just picturing herself behind a steering wheel.

With time she learned, the trick was not to stand out, but to gel in. No wonder, they stopped calling her a whore. She got herself a new name–Monica. She had anyway long forgotten she was Padma some time in her life. She also noticed, with each new thing she learned, people paid her more for doing the same things, in as much time. Sometimes, she was also taken to parties at costly hotels. She knew she had arrived on the block as an arriviste.

She had amassed enough money to open a small snack bar. She had learned that for whatever reasons she could not fathom, people thronged to places that had distorted spellings. Hers was CRUNCHEZ n’ MUNCHEZ. It was an instant success, but she herself never ate there. She could never like the taste of that bland, oily food.

She had also been able to get herself a 50 percent partnership in one of the liquor shops. Liquor shops did not fail to generate humongous profits. It was a very safe investment. And now, she planned to take it over one of these days.

He was from a distinguished family. Bright, right from the childhood. He had attended the best of the schools, the best business school. Nobody who met him was left unimpressed. He had sipped vices, but never gulped them down; bathed in them, but never drowned. They did not engage his thirst.

He was an investment banker. Everything he touched, turned to gold. He had a knack for picking up the right mind. He could read people’s minds like large captions splashed over billboards. None of his ventures had ever failed.

But he never knew why he continued in that business. Two years out of his business school, he had got bored of it. He saw business ventures as arithmetic questions at the end of the chapter. He would find it thrilling to solve few questions, then the thrill would evade him. He would attempt to solve the last question, the most difficult of them all, struggle a bit, but would eventually solve it. What would he do then? Take up the next chapter. Repeat the grind.

He had invested in it all–vada paav stalls to swanky restaurants; spring-loaded tops to electronic chips; illicit watering holes to poshest of pubs; student union elections to sponsoring election campaigns for incumbent chief ministers; environment-protection NGOs to battalions of goons to disrupt construction works; orphanages to old-age homes–all had reaped him profits. None had ever failed to.

He had nothing new left to try. No maths question he felt could challenge; no business venture could fail with his involvement.

An uneasy purposelessness had gripped him. He was suffocated by it. He had wanted an anchor for his life; something to return to everyday, that which would wait for him to return.

Thus, they told everything about themselves. Or, so the other thought.

She wondered, if he anyway did not know about her whatever she had told. Yet, he had heard her with utmost interest, just like he would hear any business proposition. He knew, after all, he was investing in her. He had already invested an advance, which she thought to be her fee for 48 hours.

“So, what do you say?”, he asked.

“I’ll have to think.”

“What is there to think?”

“I’m not sure if I’d like to leave all this I’ve started here. I’ve planned all my life around expanding my businesses. To earn things for myself. To reach where nobody with my kind of deprivation could have thought to reach.”

“You could do that even with me around. In any corner of the world. That [pointing to his bag] has everything that we could ever need, in fact much more. I won’t assist you with finances.”

She feigned a yawn.

“I’ll go, wash my face; return in a moment.”

She returned in few minutes, but found him sleeping. She went to her small table, and started writing a letter. Suddenly, an alarm buzzed; it was his cell phone. It was two in the morning, and he had woken up.

“I want some tea.”, he said.

She was about to get up, when he asked, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing, just seeing my schedule for the week, and taking down some notes.”

“Never mind, I’ll prepare it myself. You’d like some?”

You’re kidding me? Have you ever touched a single utensil, Mr. the Gautam Malhotra?”

“You’ll see Ms. Monica!”

“Oh, then I’d like to see. Maybe, taste also!”, she winked.

She was surprised, as he effortlessly reached for the utensil containing milk in her fridge. Equally effortlessly turned on the burner of the gas stove with his lighter. She wondered how closely must he have watched her sitting on the divan.

“You smoke?”, she asked looking at the lighter.

“Occasionally, if I feel my smoking would make my prospective associates more comfortable doing business with me.”

“You call them associates? Not, gullible bastards?”

“There are gullible bastards, and there are cunning bastards. I associate with cunning bastards.”

“That’s why you want to associate with me?”

“Mostly, yes.”

“Why, mostly?”

“‘Cuz I won’t be making a fool of them here on. I’ll leave the job to themselves.”

“So, you wouldn’t want me also to keep on fooling them, pretending to be powerless before them and enjoying their company?”

“Would you want to continue?”

“No, even I’ve got bored of wimpy jokers.”

He filled two cups with tea, arranged them on a tray, and motioned her to come to the bed.

They both sipped their tea. It was one of the strongest she had had. Burnt, almost. Bitterness not neutralized by the sugar in it.

He looked out the vent. It was dark outside. Totally dark. He liked it. A smile played on his lips. But the very next moment it disappeared as he thought how again there would be tiny rebellions tomorrow. But he knew at least he was doing his job.

She thought about the phone call she had made, and the letter she had written. She wondered what it was in this man sitting before her that made her make those allowances. Was she falling in L.O.V.E.–she spelled it in her head? No way! She brushed aside the thought, and the wisp of her hair that had returned to her forehead. But, this time with care, feeling how it smoothly slid against her fingers, making her aware of a life of its own.

He looked at her. She was beautiful also, he thought. Her eyes, they were captivating, but something about them put him at unease. He saw a flitting smile on her lips, and that gave him the confidence to plan his week ahead.

They both finished their tea. He pushed aside the tray onto the floor, and said, “I want to teach you something.” She looked at him, questioningly. “To be yourself”.

She laughed, not with contempt, but frank amusement.

He got up, and started unzipping her gown. That was all she had on. Then, he eased her frame onto the bed.

“I want you to be just yourself. Not someone’s fantasy. ‘Cuz you’re my fantasy. You’ve no business trying to please me. I’m paying you to be just yourself. So, that’s your professional obligation.”

She wondered what was this disease–“just be yourself”! She had been a thousand men’s thousand fantasies. From demure school girl to tyrannical ring master; from wretched widow to newly-wed neighbor’s bride. But what was this “just be yourself”! She wondered.

She felt the same fear gripping. Fear of not knowing how to be “just herself”, or plainly put, how to be ‘nothing’.

He regarded her, first from a distance, then he laid himself on her. He untied her hair, and intertwined his fingers in them, and kissed her on the forehead. She was sure, it was the same fear she had experienced in the evening. But she was determined. She stayed still.

She wondered what kind of man was he? All her customers would get drunk before trying to violate her. But here he was drinking tea. Strongest of them all. He did not violate her. He studied her.

She felt a new feeling for the first time ever. She felt exposed! His all the five senses were making love to her. He looked at every part of her body with the watchfulness of a diamond trader; he smelt her; tasted her; felt the smooth texture of her skin, and with gentle pressure made out what was beneath. He even put his ears to her chest to listen to her heart beat, and the air that wafted in and out of her lungs. He made love to every part of her body, in all the ways she could imagine; and, those, that even she could not.

She felt vulnerable. She had never felt violated when her customers sweared at her in their moments of misguided passion thinking her to be Tiffany or one Anarkali. But here he was, calmly making love to her, drowning himself in all that she was. He caressed her gently, and she felt violated. But, he was not one of those regular customers, she thought.

Suddenly, she felt that vulnerability spread to all of her body. A small speck of her mind thought of the phone call, and that letter, that they were terrible mistakes. But rest of her brain was overwhelmed by the sensations she was experiencing for the first time.

What was it that he felt for her? What was it that made him experience her in parts, and in entirety, with equal pleasure? What was it that made him make love to her, like he wanted to memorize her? What was it that made him make love to her, as if it was for one last time?

It was love she thought. The confidence you could find everything you could ever want from someone. That is why she loved herself.

She did not realize when this violation turned into pleasure, and she wanted to love him back. She urged him to kiss her, and she kissed him back. She tried loving him the same way–experiencing which that was him.

She shouted out, “I love you, Gautam. I want to be your wife. I need you. Please love me.”

It was at that moment his two hands gripped her neck. It was with passion? It was with malice? She could not decide. His malice was his passion. She thought, how many of her customers would just do that. But they would release her in time. He was not one of those regular customers.

She tried to throttle him back. He was out of reach. Her hands barely reached where they wanted to. She felt vulnerable. She felt violated. She felt suffocated. She felt trapped. She felt a pain in her head. And, she felt pleasure. She thrashed her legs, but without oxygen, they had started going limp. She tried to scream. Nothing came out of her open mouth.

She thought of the phone call, smiled; had her first ever orgasm, and died.

Now she was motionless, but he was still making love to her through all his five senses. Her hands gripping his neck, but barely squeezing him. She was cold. She was blue, but he still continued to push into her. He tried to memorize her, as if making love for one last time. Now, she was a cadaver, but he was not one of those regular customers. He valued his victims. He was always grateful to them even after they had died. After all, they had all valued him the most just before dying.

He looked at those eyes, and remembered the unease. Her eyes, the way they twinkled, reminded him of those tiny rebellions. The illuminated apartments. He had hated her for one whole month since he had discovered her. How dare she be so sure of what she wanted? How dare she think she had a purpose? How dare she go about achieving that purpose? How dare she scoff at him? At his purposelessness? At his helplessness? She paid for her folly. And though, she could no longer pay, he was still extracting. One more successful venture of his. He never failed.

He looked out the vent. Still there was darkness, but he knew, there would be tiny rebellions, yet again, tomorrow. But, he smiled in satisfaction; at least, one less.

He chose his victims only by one criterion–those with a zest for life; those who wanted something in life, and were inching towards it. Those scoffing at him, spitting him in the face. Like, that street child, all he had wanted was chocolates. He treated him to chocolates, till he felt most alive, till he puked out of cloy-ness. He then drowned him in chocolate syrup. That old lady–all she had wanted was to meet her long dead son. He stayed with her. Heard her stories. Cooked her food. Took her on a tour of the city, massaged her legs, as she was slowly dying, hung from the roof.

There was a small sound, but he was drowned in his thoughts and his sensations. A hand covered his mouth with a kerchief. He felt lightheaded, but immediately jerked it away. He did not collapse. He immediately exhaled all the air he had inhaled. The two intruders had expected an inebriated, exhausted weakling. But here he was, still high on all the tea flowing in his blood, and high on rage.

Their instructions on the phone were clear. To just break one of his legs, and temporarily render him unconscious–and, not to kill him. But his countering their assault had infuriated one of them. He kicked the new victim who was till then trapped between her two hands stiffened by rigor. They looked at her spasmed body, and were pleasantly surprised, as their victim had done to her exactly what they had planned to. The intruders started looking for the bag.

They had slashed his carotid, and he knew, he did not have enough time to replay the whole of his life. Even in immense pain, and drowsiness, he saw things clearly. He was dying, he knew. But he did not want to die? Why? What purpose did he seek to achieve? His hatred had pushed him to turn out all lights, and that had become his purpose. He had never realized how much he had started loving his purpose, and started living by it. He was also one of those. But, he did not want to die gullible. He could not die gullible. From the corner of his eyes he could see the faint figures of those robbers who had deceived him–the first time ever he had been deceived. That it was to be the last did not matter to him. He did not want to die gullible. He tried to raise his hand to stop them, but it had stopped obeying his orders. It just fell across her legs, as if reaching for something, but it could not reach those figments of motion in the corner of his eyes. Her image, now not even a blur came to his remnant of attention, and her stiff arms raised in air, as if reaching for something, still etched in his mind, made him smile. He thought of all the counterfeit currency in that bag, smiled. He did not die gullible.

But he died with the sound of an alarm clock buzzing. Underneath it was a page from the diary, fluttering with the wind intruding from that vent, rejoicing in its insignificance.

Dear Gautam,

When you read this, it will be too late, and very insignificant. I’ll be gone far away, chasing my dreams.

You had it in you, what could stall me. But I’m still that little girl, wanting to enjoy her ice cream, as if it will never get over; enjoying a movie, as if it will never end; driving a car, with wind rushing through my hair, as if it will never stop.

You had it in you to make me feel I was incomplete without you. That, I’d be nothing if not for you. But, that’s not what I had wanted to feel.

Yet, I wanted to feel for once, what it meant to be loved, to be needed; to love, to need. I’m sure you’ll give that to me, and I’ll be able to live by those memories.

I’m sure you’ll find an anchor for yourself, with which you will intertwine your being.

I’m going far away from you. Don’t try to find me. ‘Cuz, I can’t be that anchor.

Love, only this once.

-Padma.

The alarm clock quietened, knowing it had done all it was meant to do in its lifetime. It was five in the morning, dark outside, but tiny rebellions, different from those in the evening, started glowing, one-by-one, all over…

—–

Notes:

1. Small thanks to Tangled Up in Blue for the encouragement.

2. If you feel this story has more to it than what meets the eye, then you are not hallucinating.

3. If you feel this story has nothing more to it than what is contained in the words, then you are not blind.

4. Gail Waynand is a character from the story ‘The Fountainhead’, who seeks to destroy those with true love for the vocations they practice.

5. Midas Mulligan (search on the linked article), is a character from ‘Atlas Shrugged’, who was immensely successful in his investment ventures, and from who the character of Gautam Malhotra is partly derived.

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33 thoughts on “Flickering lights

  1. Its 2 am and I’m tired and sleepy and I cannot tear my eyes away from the screen..I want to read it a second time..

    I am so happy that you wrote this. It is, for me, the best story you have ever written..:)

    I cud not resist hanging on to every word, every turn of phrase, every gesture, every thought here..I did not want it to end..just like Munni wanted to drive on in a car on a road without end..

    This is bloody incredible, you know!

    I have this overwhelming feeling of loving this story so much that I cannot give you a more coherent comment right now..for that I wait till tomorrow night when I shall have rested and read this a fourth time..:)

  2. Hi TUIB!

    That’s very high praise, indeed!

    Yes, I even I was satisfied reading the story later on. 🙂

    But, I can’t tell you how much attention I’d to give to this story!

    Two days went in writing–virtually no studies! Having to keep myself in the frame of mind of the characters. Monica had to ‘evolve’; whereas, Gautam had to ‘mutate’. And then, around 5 hours of typing (very uncomfortable cyber cafe). And then when I read it, the story gets over in 40 min! 😦

    But such high praise from you makes it worth the effort! Also, I’m relieved that this story doesn’t come to haunt me! And thanks also for your encouragement, without which I might have actually given up on the idea, and it’d have not returned with this force. Hope you get what I mean!

    But, I’d definitely like a more detailed review from you when you find time (in particular, plot-related glitches, improvements, doubts you might have, basically, anything, or some places where you’d have thought of replacing a few words/lines–I’d like to know how other people’s mind works). Of course, there are few embarrassing typos and other errors, like interchange of ‘he’ and ‘she’ on two occasions, and missing a few words. But then, not sure, if would be able to find time in near future to correct them. 😦

    Thanks a lot, that too for reading multiple times!

    Also, am not sure if I’ve been able to maintain a balance between conveying things filthily enough and maintaining a grace in expressing them (talking of their two ‘episodes’ of love-making)! People who know me (through blog and even in real life), don’t expect me to write such things. But of course, the story’s not been written at all considering who’ll think what! Hope, the warning at the top is justified and sufficient, what do you think? 😉

    Also, after ‘Residua’, this is actually, only second of my stories! 55ers, for me, are only exercises in brevity, and some other literary experiments. They can never do complete justice to one’s writing abilities. Like, the opening paragraph (‘tiny rebellions’ itself is significantly longer than 55 words).

    Sleep well!

    G’night.

    Thanks, again!

    TC.

  3. Hi TUIB!

    That’s very high praise, indeed!

    Yes, I even I was satisfied reading the story later on. 🙂

    But, I can’t tell you how much attention I’d to give to this story!

    Two days went in writing–virtually no studies! Having to keep myself in the frame of mind of the characters. Monica had to ‘evolve’; whereas, Gautam had to ‘mutate’. And then, around 5 hours of typing (very uncomfortable cyber cafe). And then when I read it, the story gets over in 40 min! 😦

    But such high praise from you makes it worth the effort! Also, I’m relieved that this story doesn’t come to haunt me! And thanks also for your encouragement, without which I might have actually given up on the idea, and it’d have not returned with this force. Hope you get what I mean!

    But, I’d definitely like a more detailed review from you when you find time (in particular, plot-related glitches, improvements, doubts you might have, basically, anything, or some places where you’d have thought of replacing a few words/lines–I’d like to know how other people’s mind works). Of course, there are few embarrassing typos and other errors, like interchange of ‘he’ and ‘she’ on two occasions, and missing a few words. But then, not sure, if would be able to find time in near future to correct them. 😦

    Thanks a lot, that too for reading multiple times!

    Also, am not sure if I’ve been able to maintain a balance between conveying things filthily enough and maintaining a grace in expressing them (talking of their two ‘episodes’ of love-making)! People who know me (through blog and even in real life), don’t expect me to write such things. But of course, the story’s not been written at all considering who’ll think what! Hope, the warning at the top is justified and sufficient, what do you think? 😉

    Also, after ‘Residua’, this is actually, only second of my stories! 55ers, for me, are only exercises in brevity, and some other literary experiments. They can never do complete justice to one’s writing abilities. Like, the opening paragraph (‘tiny rebellions’ itself is significantly longer than 55 words).

    Sleep well!

    G’night.

    Thanks, again!

    TC.

  4. Even fictional humans are funny. I laugh some more 😛

    I figured it was based on Wynand. I was going to say so if you hadn’t put the notes. He too turned everything into monetary success.

    The other book I haven’t read.

    Anyways, everyone excluding Roark in that book is a whacko. Dominique is the number one whacko.

    Maybe Roark is a whacko too, but my kind of whacko.

    And did you notice some big jokes in Fountainhead? They weren’t really in the Fountainhead. Yet they were.

    What name did she give to Gail? Wynand. Wyn And. Ayn Rand. Coincidence? Or did Ayn Rand think of herself while naming? Like she knew that she is gonna have huge sway over the masses, for years to come. And that she basically knew that everybody likes to see themselves as Roark – the tragedy king intellectual who lives for a cause and triumphs in the end, fighting the stupid world. So she thought…lets give them what they like..Presenting…Howard Roark!!!!

    Again, she says that the ‘masses’ are kinda morons. Their choice or opinion is tripe. But just look who the masses chose as bestselling author over decades…Ayn Rand! 😉

    So either her books are tripe or masses aren’t morons…they are just individual Roarks in large numbers.
    —————
    OK I digressed a lot about Ayn Rand. She is basically a good author with coherent intelligent writing that seems to have been written from true conviction. I liked Fountainhead, but I don’t worship her 😛
    —————–
    Once again I digressed. Lets come back to ->You< - and -->your work< -- What I find funny is how you need to bring Ayn Rand even to justify you dislike for exposed chaddis 😛 And its quite silly of the girl to call in the goons. Maybe she should have just called in her pimp or something. Malhotra fellow is just a vindictive aimless moron,not to forget-a psycho 😛 There is a sequel to this story. Even you, the writer doesn’t know about it. Its like those movies in which they reveal in the sequel that the character didn’t really die in the prequel. He was such a tycoon, that someone or the other called him up early in the morning. Knowing him to promptly pick up calls, the caller smelt a fish when the ring went unanswered. So he alerted police. Bbased on cell phone signals they located him. Being a filthy rich guy, he was a well fed man. So although he had lost lot of blood, he was just barely clinging on to life. There was court trial and stuff, but as he was also fatally wounded, the blame of murder of ‘Fithy Rich Guy’s Hobby’ (how a newspaper described her) went on to the goons who had been caught on the same day on charge of possessing counterfeit money. Malhotra identified them. Nobody believed their story about source of fake money. Padma’s note also put Malhotra in favorable role of tragedy king rejected golden hearted lover boy of a call girl. He too played the role brilliantly and shed oscar winning tears holding the note. All in all, he emerged out of the trial a like a dazzling shining holy and pure sword that just passed the trial by fire. Of course, that sword goes on to kill a few more people in the sequel. That is until one day Malhotra realises a paradox – that he himself has a purpose – of killing all those who have a purpose. So he kills himself and remained dead happily ever after 😛

  5. You know what, blogsphere abounds with stories where people have mental issues, wierd fetishes, and keep killing off themselves and friends, lovers and enemies 😛

    Used to come across them a lot when I blog-hopped a lot about a year back.

    And what was one typical feature about such posts? – The author was a female. I wonder if they wrote it cause they felt its so ‘arty’ or excitingly sick, or something ‘profound’ or some ‘basic fabric of humanity’ or intriguing psychology or what? Maybe it was just the menstrual cycle? Or plain attention grabbing?

    I felt sick reading those. Luckily I don’t bloghop so much now. Only few random new blogs each week. And also find out the blogs of those who suddenly ‘follow’ me out of the blue. Even in this low sample size I keep coming across this kind of psycho-ppl-killing-ppl-type-story-by-lady-author.

    Your story is different on three counts:
    1) The treatment is lot better. You do have good knack for story telling.
    2) The killers in your story do have a reason behind killing. They don’t do it mindlessly for author’s pleasure However the reason too is 😛
    3) Author’s gender.

    No wonder TUIB liked it. Even those female authors I mentioned revered the concepts of such stories highly if I criticised 😛

  6. I really think Stupidosaur makes a strong case towards the end of his comments here..

    I, too, have noticed that female bloggers seem to write psycho people killing themselves and each other off stories a lot more than u wud think..

    And strangely, in the real world, Quentin Tarantino makes movies exactly like that and believes women wont really enjoy them.

    Interesting thought that women writers seem to think that stories with sex and violence are ‘arty’ whereas guys seem to think they’re merely entertaining. Hmm, very very interesting.

    I myself find death and violence extremely fascinating, I admit. But then I find the equation for the normal distribution curve fascinating, too. So dont go by me as such.

    Coming back to your story, which I really really like and am incredibly fascinated by..

    I cudnt really give u such a very detailed review as u cud give me..but wow! I really applaud the sheer effort, physical and mental that you put into it. I rarely spend more than an hour on my stories.

    I wish I cud comment on the characters that seem to be inspired from Ayn Rand’s creations, unfortunately, I cud never finish a single book written by her. So..this goes only on the lines of what I really really liked..and I’m going to try to organise it like u can..

    1) I love the attention to detail. the wisp of hair that she keeps brushing back..a really gently beautiful touch..didnt look very deliberate either.

    2) His thoughts about the ‘tiny rebellions’..kind of foreshadow to the reader the kind of person he really is, even when we dont know much about him. I realised this when I read it the second time.

    3) The way the focus shifts between them, from her to the both of them to him at the end. Reminds me of ‘A short story about love’ by Kieslowski which was similarly written.

    4) The way the character is etched out, the duality of Munni/Monica doesnt seem forced or artificial..but a very natural result of her circumstance.

    5) The man I am convinced by in the beginning, and it comes as a bit of a shock when we learn the truth about him and what he does. (when u wrote investment banker, i was sure he was going to turn out to be a gets-what-he-wants guy, thats how they are in the real world too) which is I think the effect u intended to achieve.

    6) The language here again does not sound forced, it sounds like the way these people wud talk. Words are never filthy in themselves..the context frames them..here they’re neither awkward nor out of place.

    What I felt cud have been done better, was the part right before a very nicely written part in the story.

    This line, “She was half-expecting him to dole out some filmy line like “touching of souls”, or some such crap, and bracing to avoid laughing at him..” looked a bit shoddy when compared to the awesome writing that comes immediately after it. I think its the only line that seemed to ring false in the whole story.

    The ending was very well put together but somehow leaves me a tad dissatisfied, maybe becoz I want the story to go on.

    What i wud have done differently I cannot say, becoz this is ur story, and every writer puts a part of them into the story..the words cannot be changed or reimagined..I cudnt do it.

    I agree with what u mean about it being too painful to deal with one’s own life in words like this..but believe me, thats why they call this fiction. 🙂

    I hope this will be the first with many, many more wonderful stories to come. 🙂

    This one is just lovely!

  7. Stupidosaur,

    Thanks! (Many times my thanks are perfunctory; sometimes they’re not). This is one of the stories, I’d written specifically to manipulate readers’ minds, so am grateful to whoever reads it. You get additional thanks for writing such a long feedback, and for letting me know a few things (possibly, truthfully) about yourself, which somehow I’ve been very curious of (this curiosity is very specific to you; not because you’re anonymous).

    1. Wynand was more interested in the power he felt through manipulating majority’s (the fraction is important) opinion. Money he might have valued as a means to achieve his above goal. And that’s what he did, i.e., spend all of his money to defend Roark.

    2. Yes, Dominique is a whacko! Many times, one’s ideals/morals are at odds with our trying to get what we want. Everyone clings to their ideals in these cases to the extent they can sacrifice what they want. Once the pain caused by that sacrifice becomes more overwhelming than the desire to follow one’s ideals (and, thus develop contempt for oneself), they give in. Give up on those ideals, and deal with the resultant contempt in their own multiple ways. Dominique had clinged to her ideals significantly more than average people would do. But, then ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’ are not about average people. They are about people Rand dreamt could exist.

    3. Roark is not a whacko (as in, not unaware of what the world thinks about him, or what the ‘average’ is like). Just has greater than average tolerance for pain. And less than average desire for things that people usually desire. But though, you’ve not asked for it (you’ve not asked even for this reply!), I’d worship someone like Roark, but I feel mildly ashamed, I do not have it in me to be like him. I do not have it of to be even like Dominique.

    4. ‘The Fountainhead’ has not been that famous, considering it had come out in 40’s. There are works/authors significantly more read and bought than FH–like The Alchemist (the crass-est famous book–personal opinion), Sidney Sheldon, Potter series, LOTR, etc. But, if she was thinking people would like Roark, wasn’t it one of the goals (possibly, apart from making profit)? She was a Hollywood scriptwriter. You really think she wouldn’t have better ideas to becomes popular and sell?…

  8. …Again, somehow masses have not chosen her books as the best. 🙂 She doesn’t figure in this list (click) despite being that old! But what I’m trying to prove by that her books didn’t sell well? Just that they weren’t popular with the masses! 🙂

    But just in case she was a bit popular, what point are you trying to make? You may or may not be writing blog to gain popularity among masses. I’m being mannerless here to claim that I analyze your blog more than others, and also understand it better, and when I don’t understand I ask you. Are there not many bloggers who pretend to understand that they understand your posts? Because, it’s so un-cool to confess one didn’t understand what someone intelligent like you wrote. I’ve seen many people, just like your blog’s case pretend they’d read/understood/liked her books. What point you raise, again, in turn speaks more about the nature of people who pretend thus rather than of the author.

    5. A sidenote here, like most of my reply, if you don’t happen to come to read it. I’ve not got influenced by Ayn Rand’s writings much. I used to believe in the same things even before I read her books. But, her books made my ideas more coherent even to myself. They used to be lurking doubts, kind of unformed. I don’t know her personally, so even don’t worship her.

    I’ve not kept out the possibility that all you said about Ayn Rand was only to tease me (and need not be what you ‘actually’ think). So, did I get teased? Somewhat, but not much. Ayn Rand is dead; you’re alive (and existinct 😉 ).

    6. Pink chaddis.
    I used to find ‘that kind’ (with all the attendant clauses explained in the post as well as comments on my as well as your blog, and I’d seen any girl wear that kind of dress) of behavior irritating long before I’d read her books. So obviously, I didn’t need Ayn Rand to justify my convictions. I haven’t mentioned her name in the post even once. 🙂 She’s a nomenclature.

    Instead of your saying–there is an omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving being, but which I do not believe, exists, you could much simply say, you’re a negative atheist (I’m not saying you’re one 😉 ). There are posts in my blog, where I’ve not tried to disprove the existence of God, yet I’ve labeled the posts with ‘atheism’. In fact, in none of the posts have I tried to disprove the existence of God. :)…


  9. 7. The girl was so successful, she was freelancing. Yet, she’d actually called her acquaintances only. Remember, she was there in the bathroom only for a few minutes. So, obviously called someone she trusted. But then in ‘such’ businesses, it’s not unusual that people ‘diversify’, and some of the people owing to past experience wouldn’t be averse to homicidal violence. It was after all, supposed to be lot of money.

    8. You’ve described Gautam very accurately. He also has a very good understanding of body language, and can pick out a lot from it.

    9. Your sequel is actually very good (sic). But it has a flaw as far as the story currently stands, that he actually realizes while dying that his purpose had become to kill those with purpose. 🙂

    But the last part, the way you make it sound so mechanical is funny!

    10. I too have found a lot of such stories. But more have been by males in my observation. Attention-grabbing, possibly, maybe out of the need to establish they are equal to the opposite gender. But some such writers (both genders), I’ve found to be good in their other posts, too.

    The last points you mention has a compliment, so thanks, again.

    Unlike ‘Residua’, I won’t claim here, that this story had anything to do with what I ‘feel’. This is a total work of fiction with only one goal–to see how effectively can my writing evoke emotions, and if I could develop certain kind of characters.

    If you’d notice, there was a margin for me to make the deaths violent and gory. But I haven’t said anything like ‘blood trickled’, ‘pain was unbearable’, ‘he cried for help’. I’ve not tried to make their deaths violent, they were intrinsically violent.

    I’ve described their deaths with great brevity if you see. Like if you compare, if devoted more words to the opening scene, or even the letter, much more than their deaths combined.

    I will not comment on what you’ve written about TUIB’s liking and the reasons behind it.

    So, may I take it, you liked Residua more than this? Not that it’d make a lot of difference to what I write, ‘cuz I can’t write a Residua just like that. But, am curious.

    TC.

  10. @ Ketan: I have just finished reading your story – and initially, I like it. But more details to come later. Meanwhile, however, I mostly agree with Tangled’s list of points (Tangled – sorry, but I am plagiarising your ideas on Ketan;s work :p).

    Anyway, a quick note, Ketan – really great attempt – the thing is it is a relatively long short story, and my attention did not atry through out the whole time, except when all that ‘tea’ reference made me go get a hot cup of coffee! 🙂

    Okay, sorry about the abruptness, but I am really sleepy. So, shall write in detail shortly.

    Once again, great effort! 🙂

  11. TUIB,

    1. I’d to look up what movies Tarantino has made, and guess what, I’ve watched only a part of The Sin City, that too in which he was only a guest director!

    2. I don’t find death and violence fascinating at all! And unless and until done with a bit of lateral thinking (‘Matrix’), or downright near-reality (example, a very dull sound produced when one of the goons kills a youth with a dumb bell in starting of ‘Sarkaar’) looks stupid, too. It’s actually without conscious attempt, that so much ‘death’ (but not violence) has seeped into my blog, maybe, because I’m new to writing fiction, and have always thought, I can’t be good at writing such stuff ‘cuz I’m not fascinated by it!

    1. The wisp of hair stood for her instinctive response to male attention. It gradually evolves with her throughout the story, just like her response to Gautam!

    2. You might not believe it, but again, mystery and ‘thrill’ part was not what I wanted the story to ride on most! Hence, I did not mind reader getting an idea as to that he had a negative streak. I wanted irony to be the biggest force in the story. Everything in the plot was directed towards that. Also, I wanted to emphasize on body language and mind games. 🙂

    3. Haven’t heard about the author. Is a he or she? Not sure when I might get opportunity to read fiction, but would try to.

    4. Yes, it was very difficult for me to carve the character of Monica.

    I didn’t want to capitalize on sentimentality that a prostitute’s humiliation by society, disrupted childhood, violence, etc. offered. I’ve tried to show her as just another cunning person, who’s got used to her circumstances, and doesn’t brood over the fact that the society doesn’t ‘respect’ her, or there is nobody who loves her. Quite obviously, she doesn’t even know what those things mean! But yes, owing to those facts, I’ve highlighted her unescapbale solitude, so much so that she doesn’t know there’s a margin for lesser ‘loneliness’, and another human being doesn’t figure in any of her aspirations!

    5. Yes, I won’t deny I’d deliberately tried to send the reader on various tangents! 🙂 But again, coming to irony, lines like ‘as if making love for the last time’ turn out to have quite literal significance both for Monica and Gautam! 😉 That was even more deliberate!

    6. With language, I’ve used a few words I won’t use otherwise….

  12. …Whatever things that go in their mind, I’ve written them in third person, but exactly the way they’d have thought in their mind. I was trying to strike a balance between sophisticated words like ‘allege’ (the way it’s been used in the story), and ‘ass’ and ‘suck off’. ‘Frigging’ is a word I’ve used for the first time, but felt it suited best over there! 🙂

    7. ‘some such crap’. I could be wrong, but I’ve come to associate using ‘crap’ more with girls than boys. But as I told you above, though it’s in third person that part was to be exactly how she would have thought those words in her mind. And important to remember is that exactly at that point she considered him a huge joke! So she was quite dismissive about him! But then, I’ve to accept your verdict; you’re the reader after all.

    You might be suprised by how the story has turned out, considering I myself had called it crass! But honestly, there’s nothing heart-felt in this story. Yes, there was a certain kind of sincerity in trying to be as detailed and un-sensational as possible. But apart from that this was totally an exercise in manipulation readers’ emotions. And that I believe fiction is all about! It doesn’t have any lesson whatsoever!

    8. The ending was the only attempt to appeal to emotions. The letter that was never read and the alarm that was never heard (by the one meant to read/hear)!

    I’d like you to read my response above to Stupidosaur.

    It also contains a few points pertinent to what you’ve discussed, and what I’d have liked to tell you.

    I’ve told you so many things in my response only because you’re a (good) fiction writer, and I wouldn’t discuss these points with those who’ve not tried their hand at fiction. So, of my readers, you’re one of the very few (actually, only!) reader who I believe can understand what I’d be trying to say about literary devices and body language, choice of words, optimal sensationalism, etc.

    Thanks a lot for multiple reasons! 😉

    TC.

  13. Hello Tumultuous Suspension!

    This is the first of my posts on which you’ve commented, so a second welcome to you! 😛

    Which of the two ‘tea-episodes’ made you take a break? The one when they were having dinner or the second occasion when Gautam was preparing it?

    I’ll be awaiting your more detailed review.

    Thanks for reading and the compliment!

    TC.

  14. Well, Tarantino makes movies so quirky that they involve a lot of skulls being bashed in, blood spurting over everything, and just death and violence in general.

    The reason I find them good, or atleast worth watching once is coz, he seems to treat all his characters with such insouciant irreverence..its refreshing to watch..

    like vincent vega from his famous ‘Pulp Fiction’..he’s such an incredibly likable character but he dies..and the death doesnt really serve a plot purpose..he dies calling life a joke..and death, an even bigger one..

    There is so much that we do not know about death..and we do learn to satisfy our curiosity, its too late and our life will have ended..i dont pretend to find believing in the after-life particularly comforting..

    that is why i find death fascinating..as an intellectual puzzle..the last great adventure as J.M. Barrie calls it..i think all human beings since the dawn of our intelligence have wondered about death..that is why there are so many stories about it..myths and customs..

    u and i can hardly be blamed for trying to add to those stories and build our own mythology..

    I cud tell u did not write ur story merely for the sake of shocking or thrilling others..:)

    but i disagree with u in one place, i do not believe fiction is meant to manipulate emotions as much as it is meant to stimulate thought, fire the imagination or give the reader a novel experience..

    i think the best fiction writers come up with stories that are universal yet unique..we live thru those characters that is why we love them..

    Kieslowski is actually a writer and director of movies..’A short story about love’ is in fact a polish movie..:) but believe me, it is similarly ‘written’. and its Kryzstof Kieslowki..a ‘he’.

    I am glad u wrote her character the way u did..it was a very genuine depiction..which is why i liked her character so much..i can imagine in my head how she must have looked and moved and talked..

    my friends tell me, it is necessary to take chances in fiction, even if its something ppl dont expect u to do..especially if its something ppl dont expect u to do..

    the sentence seemed to feel out of place to me..not becoz of the word ‘crap’ but becoz of ‘touching of souls’ i dont think she underestimated his intelligence that much..

    the ending felt fast in coming and going..but i read ur response to Stupidosaur’s comment and i know why u made it so precise and clinical now..

    thank u for taking the effort to explain all this to me, my writing exercises are much more instinctive, intuitive rather and not very planned..i cudnt have analysed my own writing so well..thats why i value ur opinion so highly..

    🙂

  15. Amazing
    hats off Dude 🙂
    Brilliant narration..I first thought it was that good guy in love with a sex worker… but the twist was very interesting ..

    Great Work 🙂

    Keep writing and Smiling 🙂
    Arnav

  16. why did i keep thinking of caroll cole when i was reading your post on the girl with the exposed flank?
    and why was i thinking of the word ‘sublimation’ when i was reading this story of yours? oh wait. thats an ego defense mechanism.

    you are scary! you sure are!
    🙂

  17. Thanks TUIB, I always value comments that go beyond the perfunctory, and your this comment was no exception. 🙂 You’ve repeated your mistake of apologizing for writing a long comment (which I love to read). Now you must apologize for apologizing. 🙂 And like a good gujju, I can repeat, it’s you, who had to write, I’d to merely read it! 😛

    1. Death. I won’t say I’ve not tried to visualize death. But when I say death, I mean, dying moments, when I’d know the immediate imminence of my death, and also that I can’t do anything substantial in the interim. I’ve thought of the moments, and I’ve honestly not had the courage to carry the scene to the ‘end’. Yes, that way, this story very deals with dying moments, but much more superficially then I could’ve attempted. And as far as trying to visualize the state of ‘death’ is concerned it’s a linguistic trap! In context of our consciousness, it’d be equivalent to trying to count zero apples or tasting bland water, or trying to inhale vacuum. The best approximation of ‘death’ would be those moments of sleep we don’t remember (sic)! And nobody has blamed us for choosing to write what we liked to write on! 🙂 Some readers may like what we write, some may not like. When we allow others to comment especially inviting them to read (I’d invited Stupidosaur), we’ve to consider what they say, irrespective of whether we accept it or not upon consideration.

    I read a lot of material on other people’s blog, and think it to be shallow without asking them if it was so. But you know, I don’t even let them know what I felt. In this case, I at least got an opportunity to make a clarification [I know, I’m digressing as far as the post is concerned, but what I’m trying to discuss is also not unimportant, for though it may sound sensationl, I believe when our ego (the sense of ‘I’) and life are concerned, nothing is ‘irrelevant’]. Have you never felt, someone wrote something quite shallowly on their blog? Did you honestly convey your feeling to them? But here, Stupidosaur has done that (though he may return to point out he didn’t mean that), and I really admire that in him. I’ve seen him being more insolent/honest than this. His judgement of the other person’s shallowness could be right or wrong depending upon what his experiences in life are. I can’t blame him for that….

  18. …But you know the best part is, he is right! There are parts where I’ve been very true to myself like the carrying this story entirely only on mind games and not trying to make the sex scenes more titilating, and the death scenes wildly violent. Nor have I tried to insinuate gloom through words. Rather, I’ve created a situation that was attemptedly ironic enough to end up pointing to futility of the characters. Also, I’d to do a lot of mental hardwork to come up with some small-small things like how Gautam gets into sitting position from reclining, or she gives him incrementally greater attention through seeing him more directly and with greater focus as he turns out to be more and more unpredictable. Also, the scene of her laughter was challenging to write. I’d to literally think how I laugh! So, that way, I’ve stayed true to ‘life’, and I believe, could do so, only because I observe people that closely.

    But then there are very critical points where the story takes off into those zones where I’ve never been. I’ve never hated people. For people I develop intense contempt, I stop thinking about them! I know this is ultra-arrogant! That I can’t waste my precious emotions on those who’re unworthy! So the kind of hatred he feels that I’ve depicted is totally ‘artificial’ and shallow. Also, I’ve never been so cut off from humanity as Monica is. Also, unlike her, I’m not ‘practical’.

    I’m much more idealistic/emotional. I know many people consider me, excessively idealistic, to the extent that I can be seen as hypocritical! But see, how Monica is! She does anything that’d get her money, including hurting physically and mentally the only person she possibly came close to loving! So, in that sense, I’ve created emotions that I’ve never felt! When I say this I’m not taking a higher moral ground! Look at the story, both the characters are evil! But, I’ve not cast a single moral judgement on their actions! Only created a plot where their emotions, drives, aspirations actions turn futile in most abrupt and unpredictable way! That’s all that’s there to the story!

    Being able to create emotions thus could be a skill, but in my own view it is shallow (though, not necessarily a bad thing, especially if one doesn’t pretend such attempts to be otherwise in real life)…


  19. 2. “touching of souls”

    Here, I’m a weird situation! 🙂 Honestly, as the writer of this story, I can’t understand what a reader feels reading particular lines. So when you say, those lines sound misfit, I’ve take your verdict for it.

    So, I can only tell trying to convey through that usage.

    She’d laughed so much that she was feeling maniacal. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but me and my roommate just 15 min before even the University exam used to be so tense that we used to get ‘dissociated’ from the situation, and laugh like mad (just like how Monica had a few min back). Every person who used to look at us would consider up mad. And momentarily, exactly just before the exam he and me would’ve totally forgotten how critical an event we were about to face. But that didn’t mean how important the exam was. We used to joke at anything in that time bracket. Monica had also felt the same because of how much she’d laughed. It was not her judgement, but her maniacal state that was forcing her to see joke everywhere! That’s why she feels a lurking sense of lack of control in everything she does, and has a hard time controlling her laughter. This is what I wanted to convey through those lines.

    The second purpose of keeping those lines in a dismissive tone was to pave way for the shock of what he does, which is something you’ve anyway pointed to.

    My goal with the next lines was only to surprise the reader.

    But I also wanted to do it more in a ‘psychological’ way rather than some actual ominous event. Like, he could’ve shown her a gun or a knife! And the entire story could still have proceeded in exactly the same way. Yes, she wouldn’t call for help ‘cuz she’d a soft corner for guys with a negative streak! 😉 The plot could’ve proceeded this way, and then the story would’ve been closer to what Stupidosaur’s been hinting at.

    But there’s one more thing. Why do you feel ‘touching of souls’ is a stupid thing in absolute terms? It sounds stupid only because of the way Monica of thinks of it!

    If Gautam would’ve said, “So many gullible bastards have tried to buy you. But have you ever lost a part of you to them? Have they ever left a part of them to you? What’s the point of such touching of bodies? I want the high point of our love to be when our souls touch”, it wouldn’t sound unintelligent to the reader….

  20. …Though to Monica, it would sound impractical, especially in that state of mind.

    But I would like to know if you’d thought of some other way to put it.

    See TUIB, whatever you tell me about my story, I’d be inclined to believe. Because honestly, to be the writer of anything is one of the worst situations, as you can empathize! I myself can never ‘experience’ what feeling my writings evoke. I’m grateful to you for letting me know in quite detail what you liked and didn’t like.

    Yes, I didn’t want to dwell too much on their death. There’s one thing common to death of both of characters. They wanted to do something very badly, but realize they can’t do it (Monica–retaliating physically and running aways with his money) and Gautam (stopping the goons), yet the last feeling with which they die is one of satisfaction on having harmed someone else! Monica had called up goons for Gautam, and Gautam had killed Monica and put counterfeit money in the bag.

    Thanks a lot, again!

    TC.

  21. Very nice…the story is well constructed and the characterisation and description of the moments between them is quite good…on female writers writing about psychos well I have not written the killer types but yes mental trauma a lot…I think women or whoever write them are people fascinated with the unknown recesses of the human mind, in their non blog lives, they are perfectly normal, maybe even so called virtuous (coz I am still trying to understand what virtue is) people, but that doesnt mean that violence has never crossed their mind…whatever an author writes is somehow an indirect extension of themselves I guess…so either they have felt or seen something vaguely similar or they know about the most extreme reactions that the human mind is capable of…is it artsy? no I dont think atleast I dont write thinking if it would be artsy, love a good twist though…but writing is always like some sort of a release…some sort of a venting isn’t it…

  22. @Rakesh: Would be looking forward to your feedback. 🙂

    @Arnav: Welcome to the blog, and thanks! Glad, that the story could suprise you. Since, I myself have written the story, couldn’t make out if it had a surprise element or not!

    @Freudian Slip:

    Thanks for your 2-in-1 comment. But again, you only get 2-in-1 thanks for that! And, welcome!

    Honestly, I’d to search for Carrol Cole to know who he was. Well possibly, being a feminist as admitted on your blog, you didn’t read my disclaimers in the post properly, or thought them to be perfunctory or insincere that the outcome of my thinking did not apply only to females, but rather did to both the sexes, and also other aspects of ‘volition’ other than dressing. It might also seem from the length of the post that the incident had affected me a lot, but it actually didn’t. It’s just that to write on such a touchy topic, and to have views that would go against the majority’s, does take a lot of explanation and defending, as you could see from the length and number of comments, too.

    Though, I’d have rather liked to address your concerns more directly had your comment been on that post, instead of a curt response here that I don’t harbor deep hatred for anyone owing only to their gender. In fact, I don’t harbor deep hatred for anything or anyone to such degree that I’d like to destroy it. Rather, I’d try to avoid it, and keep out of my ‘system’.

    Also, since I didn’t really have repressed feelings, sublimation would not be required. The story is to be read as-it-is. It does not contain any indication as to how I am in real life, maybe, except for the fact that I like to observe people a lot and closely, and that’s why you’d find more-than-usual emphasis on ‘body language’ and the chain of thoughts.

    And, you need not be sacred of me, as far as blogging and commenting are concerned. 😉

  23. Hi Ketan
    I read your story tonight with great interest. You said in one of your comments here that you set out to manipulate readers’ minds – and you certainly achieved that with me!
    I was very conscious of trying to work out the characters’ motives and thoughts every step of the story. It makes me think that we are so conditioned from our previous knowledge and experience, that we to try to extrapolate where the author (you) is taking us, before we actually get there. So I had visions of “Pretty Woman” going through my head followed by “The Other Side of Midnight” and so on and so forth – and yes – I do read and watch a lot of mainstream populist rubbish – don’t hold it against me!
    I found the following lines particularly profound: “I love it when they go back, pump their soul into the world, and fake their life, moment after moment. And all the world does in return is spit back at them.” Its so true. In the end, we all die, so why carry on so much??
    The last paragraph really struck a chord: “The alarm clock quietened, knowing it had done all it was meant to do in its lifetime. It was five in the morning, dark outside, but tiny rebellions, different from those in the evening, started glowing, one-by-one, all over…” – it reminded me of the lyrics, “Time asks no questions, It goes on without you, Leaving you behind if you can’t stand the pace, The world keeps on spinning, Can’t stop it if you try to…” (Desiree). It’s true.
    Keep writing my friend – I look forward to your next story.

  24. Hello Sioneve!

    Yes, I did set out to manipulate the readers’ thought processes with well-calculated lines and emotions, some of which I never felt myself! Good fiction, in my opinion is like that. Fiction-writers have to create emotions they never experienced or situations they never faced. And when the reader cannot distinguish what part of fiction is totally fictitious and what finds its origin from few of the experiences of the writer (extreme form being plagiarism!), that’s the highest accomplishment possible.

    You enjoyed the story in part because you were proactive and trying to predict what the characters would do, so your enjoying the story was partly your own hard work!

    Even I’ve read and watched a bit of mainstream populist rubbish, and I make no bones about the fact that had my work been of somewhat better quality, it could’ve maybe, been a chapter in one of Sidney Sheldon’s novels (how’s that for mainstream populist rubbish!).

    Yes, a few of my lines did border on a social commentary, and that’s what I’d meant by ‘profound’.

    I’d like to tell you that I’ve read very little literature, heard very few English songs, and watched very few English movies, so lot of what you tell me is in the what!-domain! 😉

    I hope the many typos that were present didn’t interfere with your reading experience.

    Thanks for reading, commenting, complimenting, and the encouragement!

    TC.

  25. @ Sioneve: There were too many instances of interchanging of ‘his’ and ‘her’, especially in paragraph dealing with her ridiculing the concept of ‘just be yourself’.

    TC.

  26. Finally I read this. It was in my laptop bag for almost 100 years now and on this trip, I found it and read it in one sitting (yeah I know it was short but what i mean was it was very interesting).

    Great work KP. It was riveting indeed, though I felt few portions were censored and not that descriptive 😉 he he…

    I guess one bad part was that I read a few lines in the last part before I started and I think it would’ve been even more interesting if I wouldn’t have read those lines and the story would’ve developed slowly. But still, I was wondering how would you get to the guy strangling her. And somewhere in between I actually forgot about it.

    Very interesting read !

  27. Rakesh,

    You literally butchered my story by reading the climax first! How did you even get such an idea? Probably, ‘Residua’ must’ve traumatized you a lot! 😉

    But anyway, as you must’ve discovered this was my first attempt at writing a ‘mainstream’ story. So that way, your review is heartening! 🙂 But still, there’s no way you could’ve experienced the shock of turn of events the way it was intended. 😦

    And actually after you took the printout, I’d edited the story to remove a few typos! There were some glaring ones in the original version.

    Also, this might sound scary, but I’d somehow thought of reminding you of my this story just before you published the above comment!

    And with regard to the censored portions, honestly, I’ve never tried my hand at erotica! And you could somewhat blame my lack of experience and/or imagination in this department!

    Also, I was trying to focus more on Monica’s feelings rather than body parts (whatever that means! 😉 ).

    And somehow, I really didn’t feel I needed to get more anatomical. As in, I hope I could sufficiently convey, how someone like Monica who viewed sex as merely a mechanical ritual to earn money, could for the first time enjoy it only because there were also emotions of love and predicament of embracing v/s disregarding (Gautam) were involved.

    If you find time and remember your original response to this story, I’d like a more detailed review.

    I absolutely don’t mind any kind of criticism when it comes to fiction, primarily for two reasons–every reader has a different perspective and expectations off fiction, and I’m just an amateur writer with very first attempt at writing ‘real’ fiction!

    But nevertheless, thanks very, very much for reading and commenting!

    TC.

    PS: By reading the ending first you’ve disappointed me greatly by proving once and for all that you’re more weird than I am. Now I’m jealous! 😦

  28. I had read half of it a long time ago before I was interrupted and I hadn’t finished reading the story but now I have.

    I think the turn of events were extremely well thought out. Incredibly dark ending. Its the same feeling you get when you watch “Silence of the lambs” or “Psycho” and no pun intended!

    Once again, Ketan, a brilliant story! Spine-chilling! Keep up the great work!

    Cheers,
    Vishwas

  29. Hello, Vishwas!

    Thanks a lot! And, glad you liked it! Also, hope you didn’t find me too pushy in reminding you of this story.

    Actually, some elements of story are borrowed from other sources. Like, he killing her while having sex comes from a Sidney Sheldon novel. And the idea of his continuing to penetrate her even when dead came from elsewhere! 🙂

    TC.

  30. When I just started reading the story ..I must admit I acted stupid as suddenly 11 Minute from Paulo Coelho came into my mind and the central character looked like Maria (pre concieved notions) but when I moved forward and explored I first time found myself being judgemental at early stage which is not my persona otherwise……

    A nice narration that keeps the reader engage right from the beginning till end and also at every step finds himslef having some or the other versions of precieved notions……..

    Good Work Ketan….

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