Archive for March, 2008

History’s Hassles

“Ok so are we clear on the plan?” said Vishal looking at his other two rather scared looking friends.

“Do you guys want to go over it once again,I want no hiccups you get this guys”

Ram and Nikhil were not quite sure whether they wanted in or out. But they felt they were caught in this quagmire with Vishal and were way too frightened to stand up against him

Well being in 8th standard had its own pitfalls. The pressures one faces are countless. What with all the 6 subjects, the homework not to mention those exams. They saw no point in them. I mean what kind of torture is to make you study things you did not get even if you tried as hard as to move Everest and worse test you in that. I mean what were they expecting him to do. Score 100. What did they think he was, a geek! As though these problems were not enough, there were these girls who somehow were always doing well in school. And Uma ma’am just made his life even more miserable by making him sit next to Ramya, the 1st ranker of their class.

“It’s like not getting marks is not enough, but having this Ramya sit next to me and crib to me about her marks makes me go mad” said Ram.

Why da, what happened? Asked Nikhil almost half caring.

“Well, here I am looking at my beautiful history paper not even managing a pass and she is telling me how she lost half a mark for not knowing

what Chandragupta Mourya’s pet parrot’s name was?!!! I mean I did not even know how to spell his name!!!!. It’s like adding insult to injury you know. I was thinking about my mom’s face when she asked me that. I bet Chandragupta dint have to face his mom with a failed history paper” finished Ram.

“I know what you mean, sometimes I think if all this school and exams are worth it you know. I am so good at cricket man, I am just going to chuck school and start playing cricket for the country you know.” Said Vishal.

“Oh , yeah they are waiting for the next sachin to start the next tri series. You dumbo! You can’t even get in to a 15th player’s slot and dreams like these. First think what you are going to tell your mom. “ said Vishal breaking Nikhil dreams in to a million pieces by a perfect Yorker.

Nikhil imagined his mom proudly performing an arthi for him when he came home holding the world cup for India and somehow suddenly the image diffused and there stood his mom with his history papers looking at him with such anger that he was willing to swap his life with the nearest pest he could see.

“That’s why guys we need to do this, I mean this is our only hope of passing 8th” said Vishal breaking Nikhil from his scary reverie.

“Well as much as I hate not knowing Henry VIII’s six wives and their maid’s names, I am scared” said Ram.

“Oh yeah you are scared are you ? Ok be prepared to spend more time cajoling Ramya that next time she can beat you by a greater margin than 75 marks” said Vishal looking at Ram. “Being beaten left right and center by a girl, how does it feel Rami”.

He caught Ram in his weaker spot.

“All right fine. I am in.” conceded Ram. Being beaten by Ramya was bad enough. Being reminded of that every moment was even worse.

“But is this ok? I mean what will people say Vishal, I mean it’s our reputation at stake you know” said Nikhil.

“Oh my sachin, there is no choice do you realize, unless you want to sit with juniors doing the same geometry” retorted Vishal a little mad.

“Listen you guys, I am going to do it no matter what, it’s up to you guys to decide, I am sick of trying to convince you guys”

“Ok tell us the day and time. “said Ram.

“Tomorrow at 6” said Vishal.

“Whoa! That’s like broad day light, what if we get caught. I mean I cannot take the humiliation man, you know what will happen to us right?” said Ram.

“Listen I have planned everything, nothing goes wrong. Everyone’s schedule has been checked, and nobody is going to be in or around that area. And we have to do it by that time, and by the time we get the work done, it will be dark, nobody will recognize us” said Vishal, the master planner.

“Ok see you then” said ram and Nikhil cursing them for getting in to this.

Nights brought dreams to Ram. Of Chandragupta Mourya, his parrot being eaten by a cat and he is held responsible for it. And he is going to be executed by Henry VIIIth sixth wife. The dream woke ram up and he was startled to see himself safe in his room. He got ready for school, ate the horrible cereal which even a stray dog would not touch.

The whole day was very tense for Ram, so much that he could not even feel angry at Ramya when she said she was considering going for tuitions to increase her marks. He was very afraid about the evening and how it was going to turn out. He spent the whole day praying.

So the brave three met in the evening at school grounds at 4:30.

“Ok guys let’s start . Operation Pass.” Said Vishal.

“What? Is that what we are calling this, Oh god that sounds exactly like a bunch of losers” said Ram.

“Well stop moaning and walk fast, we don’t want to get caught remember” said Vishal.

They reached the place and all the three of them were reluctant to go inside. Though they were sure it would help, making this decision was very tough, especially on Ram. This was not how he wanted this to be, but then this was better than flunking eighth.

“Ok guys here we go, deep breaths”

Vishal pushed the button. A cuckoo sound went on. Did Chandragupta had a cuckoo? Such profound thoughts of Ram were interrupted by the door opening.

“Hey guys, come on in”

“Thank you for doing this Ramya. Thanks for tutoring us for the finals” said Vishal.

“Oh, that’s nothing, hey Ram I thought you would not come, anyways grab chairs guys, we will do history today” said Ramya.

“I swear to god, If I find you Chandragupta…” trailed away Ram’s thoughts in Ramya’s lessons.

 

War and Peace

With blood trickling down slowly, and with life delaying its end, he wondered if he had pressed the rewind button of his life. It was more of a snapshot of moments. The most important ones or so he thought. He was surprised that the glimpses he got were so varied and about people he never thought he valued so much. Well life is a funny teacher, he thought. But never gave up on teaching you a lesson, whenever it was, even if it is death bed.

There was no real order of the images he was going through in his mind. It was all one varied collage. There was his mother, his young mother feeding him, protecting him, his mother to whom he meant the world.

 His wife, the quite, patient, tolerant wife whose most important goal in life seemed to be his wellbeing. Making sure he was well fed, well dressed, happy seemed to be her purpose in life. And she was happy doing it. All their happy moments came to him in a flash. He hated to be the one making her unhappy.

There they were, the purpose of his life, his little princesses playing around in their field. Everything he did seem to be for them. It was when he had kids of his own, he understood his mother completely. How she felt about him. He realized that it is possible to feel unconditional love. Just pure, unadulterated love. It was an amazing feeling. He realized that his life seemed meaningful cause of them.

Total strangers he had helped through his life, whose faces seemed fuzzy, appeared in his last moments. Strangers he had touched and not realized it. From the poor hungry little kid who cleaned the plates in the dhaba with whom he had shared his roti at times, to even the dog in his street who he fed at times. He just saw people. He did not see the ambitions he nurtured or the money he was after. Just the people.  The biggest wealth a person makes in his lifetime. And in an inexplicable way that eased the pain. Knowing he was loved by people and that he would be missed made the process of dying easier.

He wanted to have one last glimpse of his family, he was trying to fish the picture he had in his pockets ,when he did not find them there, he started searching the ground next to him desperately to get the picture. His hands found something. With efforts needed to lift a mountain he bought it closer to his eyes. His eyes did not deceive him, it was a beautiful family but just not his. He turned his head towards his left to find another man in a different uniform. The one he was ordered to target. His hands were doing the same desperate motion that he did a minute ago. He placed the picture in his hands. His sanguinary face seemed to break in to small smile. A life touched at its very end.

Ironical, considering he was supposed to have ended this life. It did not matter. Not now, not ever. The other person had a life too, has a mother whose world revolved around him, has a doting wife, has lovely kids. People whose worlds revolve around him. Every person has a story .Every battlefield has a story. The battlefield teaches a lesson too. A lesson of peace.

He turned away his eyes closing. He did not need the picture. He could see them clearly etched in his mind. He did not realize his eyes closing but felt his lips spread in to a smile