Source: A TALE OF TWO RIOTS
The bars rattled in an otherwise still night. The guard walked past, a sharp click marking each of his steps on the stone. A pink dawn snuck its way through the tiny hole in the wall. For months, this had been my only window to the world, and I looked down across the walls towards humanity as it bustled by, unknowingly forming a part of my last few memories.
A key rustled in the lock and my eyes met the guard’s. A stiff nod was all it took for me to realize that it was time.
I was to follow him to my death.
I fell in step behind the man with the umbrella. Grey suit, polished shoes. Wealthy, I presumed, by the clinical cuts on his suit – made to fit while an admiring wife and daughter looked on. A family man with a small, happy family.
But tonight, he was going to die.
I turned a corner onto a side street. The clouds obscured light as the breeze turned into a howling cacophony, almost as if the heavens were preparing.
I moved a step forward, and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned.
The knife was an extension of me as I thrust it forward.
Plunge. Insert. Push. Twist. Withdraw.
A bright red flower bloomed on his spotless cream shirt, expanding as his blood found freedom from the shackles of his body. As I held him to me, I felt a soul flow by, a final breath expunged. A not so strange sense of déjà vu struck me, as if my whole life had been preparing for this one moment.
I withdrew the knife and extricated myself from the man in the grey suit, laying him on a moth eaten armchair on the street. The man with the umbrella had found his final resting place.
It looked like the climax of a movie, with the weather and the street and the costumes all perfectly set up in some sort of karmic colossus. I smiled to myself.
The wind howled one final time.
It was done.
As I followed the guard to my decidedly gruesome fate, my mind slipped back to that windy night. In retrospect, I could have done a better job. Getting caught was not part of the plan, but I had become careless. The trial had been brief; the jury had sentenced me to the chair. I had quietly chuckled at the irony of fate, two dead men in chairs. The wry smile had, of course, not gone down well with the press, quick to label me a remorseless murderer.
We arrived at a large metal door. Another key turned, and I was faced with the end. A void filled me, and I wondered if another smile would be out of place.
I sat down on the chair and closed my eyes.
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, chiefly due to the time constraints this place has imposed on me. For the first time in months I’ve had 4 days where I did not have to worry about any deadlines. I’m only just getting used to that, and to this place in general.
Bangalore is an awesome city, chiefly due to the weather. Evenings here are God’s way of making one long for good scotch.
The first few weeks here brought with it an intense feeling of being straitjacketed. Tight and with nowhere to move but with the herd. I guess there is an initial revulsion to novelty to contend with, and it might have well played a part. Halfway in to Term 2, I have seemingly settled in. Do I like it? <shrug>
Anyway, I realised I missed writing, and it’s one of the few things I’m really good at (IMHO), and the thought of writing a book has crossed my mind more than once. About what you ask? <shrug> It will come to me I guess. And I hope I don’t stare at a great idea and let it pass me by.
PS: The title of this post should not be interpreted literally.
I just finished reading the truly “magisterial” work by Guha – India After Gandhi, and in the epilogue he talks about why India still survives as a nation in spite of obituaries being written by the world at large every 10 years or so. There are a few brilliant lines towards the end of the epilogue, and I feel compelled to reproduce them here.
“The writer whose lines open this book, the nineteenth century poet Ghalib, thought that God was indeed on the side of India. All around him were conflict and privation, but doomsday had not yet come. “Why does not the last trumpet sound” asked Ghalib of a sage in the holy city of Benares. “Who holds the reins of the Final Catastrophe?” This was the answer he got:
The hoary old man of lucent ken
Pointed towards Kashi and gently smiled.
‘The Architect’, he said, ‘is fond of this edifice
Because of which there is colour in life; He
Would not like it to perish and fall’.
I just rewatched V for Vendetta, one of my all time favourite movies (hat tip to Alan Moore) [Edit: He apparently hates the movie, so I have been advised not to mention the movie and him in the same breath] and was once again awed by the beauty of the dialogues and screenplay. The more famous ones are reproduced frequently, like V’s introduction in the movie, and his speech to the people on TV. However there are a few beautiful moments in the sequence where V puts Evey through a fake incarceration. The exchanges in the letters of Valerie, excerpts below:
“It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one. An inch. It is small and it is fragile and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must NEVER let them take it from us. I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place. I hope that the worlds turns, and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. Valerie. “
“Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free.”
If you haven’t already, read the novel, then watch the movie.
From the archives:
Staring into those eyes
Immersed in their depths
underneath the stars that shone so bright
Only for her.
Caressing her hair
Like the wind
That seemed to stir
Only for her
Like the gentle lapping of the waves
on her feet
As the moon shone
by the shore
under the moon and the stars