A Room For Death

(Inspired from the lives of a few real people)

In April evenings, when the skies dimmed and sprinkled stars on our grassy cricket fields, we dropped our playthings and our concerns to lie down awhile. We had known our entire lives that these stars immortalized people long dead. To us, they were peepholes into the afterlife of those we were taught to love. Abhi would often point out one that was his grandfather. I knew of one which was my birth mother. If only I ever learnt how she died, she would become less a star and more a human. I turned sixteen in the moist months of twenty-twelve, the year Mr. Remarkable last caught me her star.

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The Romantic Mr. Remarkable

— Dedicated to a friend

(Inspired from the lives of a few real people)

An amorphous rain stifled the city, wetting us with pixie dust of an otherworldly romance. A few cars slid past in the wake of an earlier torrent. The streets were mottled with the vestiges of withdrawing umbrellas and blurred neon lights. The dying notes of Für Elise closed behind us. She smiled one last time, started to say again that it was nobody’s fault, but stopped when the departing bus caught up. Then a flash of light signaled another impending downpour and I was left alone on the kerb for a long time.

I remember sitting at Mr. Remarkable’s oblong dinner table as a child, my legs swinging like twin pendulums under the wooden tabletop. Not long after, Maa had whispered to me that I needed to stop that annoying habit, and everybody had whispered to one another that it was not okay for Mr. Remarkable to marry someone at his age.

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Touching The Stars

(Inspired from the lives of a few real people)

Every November evening, Mr. Remarkable donned his glazed off-white kurta over his casual white pajamas, strutted down the street, cane in hand, to the municipal park, and touched the stars. Every evening, a throng of credulous pre-teens from our locality followed him down the brick avenue, bickering and laughing, as children do when they see a madman. Each child wishes to be amazed, even if by a man who claims to snare a star in front of their eyes. Poor kids! The adults knew that Mr. Remarkable was pulling off a cheap trick, with fireflies or with bright bulbs, but they could never be as certain of his deceit as the children were of his magic. No one dared say anything to Mr. Remarkable however, because old though he was, he had a sharp tongue that could outwit and outrage the most belligerent of us all.

This did not stop the rumours. Just the other day, Twinkle Maashi and Maa were talking from across the Hall, the two entrance doors facing each other. ‘You know, Mithu, ‘ Maashi began, with an expression that combined contempt and amazement in a way that only she could manage, ‘Mr. Remarkable was at it again yesterday. All these little rascals followed him to the park, and he pulled out his cheap jar of fireflies. If you ask me, he is not a good influence on the kids. I have heard that he curses out loud while he shows them the stars.’

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The Pigeonhole Principle

(The pigeonhole principle in mathematics, in its crudest form, states that if you have more pigeons than pigeonholes, you have to group multiple pigeons in one or more instances to accommodate them all.)

Outside, soft rain drizzled down the puckered white walls, drenching them slowly but incessantly in its cold and moist embrace. Silent green trees gazed upwards longingly as if searching for a faint trace of some stray sunbeam through the dark pall that veiled the land. The dahlias in the garden cowered their majestic heads before the frigid wind. The grey cemented area assumed a much darker shade reflecting the overcast skies above. The freshness of the grass slowly wafted from the damp ground, accentuated by the musty smell of the oak tables and chairs. Far away, over the regular sound of rainwater playfully tapping the paths, one could hear the dying vestiges of car horns scooting away in utmost urgency. The unnoticed edges of the window pane were already foggy, and mist was gradually invading the entire view. The weather was bad; it was getting worse.

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There is someone else in the mirror, doc!’

‘What’s more to understand here? I have already narrated this story, like, a million times now.’

‘I told you already. I do not remember what made me come home early that day. I guess it is one of those things you just do not recall, like what you had after dinner two nights ago; or the colour of some shirt you happen to wear on a regular day.’

‘Yes. I did meet her on the way back.’

‘Yes, sometimes I do wake up to eat. How is that relevant anyway? How is anything before the incident relevant?’

‘Damn right I realize you are fucking supposed to know me entirely to judge me, you asshole- but I have repeated this enough times already.

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Dead Ends

What goes around comes around, in some shady back-alley in the middle of nowhere, clubbed to death and left to soak in one’s own pool of blood.

“Forensics,” she said, thrusting the coffee cup into my bare hands with such vigour that I could hardly reject the offer. “Keeps you focused,” she explained, and left with the gait of someone who has had enough caffeine for the day.

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