Tuesday 7 December, 2010

One Minute Book

Here's a story I wrote a couple of years back. Well, it's a short short or something.


The jogger’s shoes pound against the cobble-stoned sidewalk as he runs past an old ground in South Mumbai. One little spin bowler successfully cracks the stumps, bowling out the bespectacled hero of the hour. One ball, one wicket, eleven shrieks of animated appeal to the fictitious umpire. One bespectacled bat drags dust on its way to the stone bench. One minute to the school bell; soon it will be time to go home. No commercial breaks, no sponsored jerseys, no brand ambassadors. Just one little spinner who broke enough windows to perfect the turn of the ball. The scrawny bowler pumps his fist in the air. The young players saunter away from the field and hear a loud burst of thunder. The sky is clear, but the fence around the playground has come bursting in.

Dodging the late afternoon shoppers on Colaba Causeway, the jogger sweats his way past an old saleswoman on the brink of a smile. A young hippie in the wrong decade hands over five hundred-rupee notes to the toothless smile. Four too many for a shawl with a secret hole in it. The hippie casts a sidelong glance at the jogger who smiles in appreciation. Curling her fingers around the notes, the old woman sighs in anticipation of all the pegs of rum that will go un-sacrificed that evening. Tucking the shawl into her bag where her freshly purchased marijuana nestles next to her copy of Lonely Planet, the hippie turns to leave, thinking about sex and joggers. A big blinding light and the sound of a hundred cannonballs prematurely ends her imaginary one-night stand.

The jogger looks into the window of an old coffee shop with a colonial hangover, a shroud that almost all of Colaba proudly shares. A reflection of himself comes back at him like a message garbled in the vision of a couple on a date. He pants by as the stubble in the coffee shop looks soulfully into the black crevices between the toes of a goddess. The deity in question looks at the clock, looks at the door, looks at the clock. The stubble twitches uncomfortably at the ground that refuses to open up below him. Light leaves his eyes as it fills those of the goddess. A clean-shaven dimple- that master of puppets- enters the coffee shop and locks the goddess in a fate-sealing embrace. The stubble holds back an expletive as a waiter condescends on underachieving breadsticks. The door of the coffee shop bursts into a million little teardrops of glass, chairs fly upwards and inwards and people are thrown off the checkered tablecloths like so many chessmen.

An undernourished rabid dog scratches the heat and grime off his ears as the jogger comes into his line of vision. Standing up in delirious euphoria, the dog chases the jogger, happy to have met a friend. As he runs to catch up, the light catches the shimmer of a metal fastener on the jogger’s torso. The jogger looks at the dog and looks up at the sky. He screams to an unseeing God before he presses a button strapped to his body. Little bits of the rabid dog splatter on the rubble of cobblestones.

In the air filled with the stench of so many unconnected deaths, hangs a single thought: That in the movie which will be made some years hence, this scene will be in slow motion, and the censor board will cut the footage of the flying flesh and the look of lust that passed between a jogger and a hippie.