It was silent as a grave, and then, it started singing…
I remember it quiet distinctly. It was dead dark up in the sky. The street lamps had been glowing eerily all the evening. Not a soul fluttered in the city. Not a vehicle purred. Fallen leaves crawled as if a zombie’s hands. The breeze brushed past, in silence, cutting like a steel, drenching everything in the stench of death. It was dead quiet – as if someone’d just farted….
We all stared at Heroine’s face in disbelief. His fat, sagging, baggy, tired but sly face. He had just told us about a notorious song called Gloomy Sunday, aka the suicide song, and how it has caused a thousand suicides in the past and how it was banned from radio and everywhere else and whoever listened to it never saw another day. It was a late night bantering that had now turned into a session of paranormal yarns. We were discussing how goddam scary the horror comedy Vikral and Gabral was when Heroine started talking facts and told us about Gloomy Sunday.
“One of my friend’s friend told me this. I swear it’s true. “He started. We all knew about his friend’s friend, who was some kind of omniscient twat whose sole purpose of existence was to fill Heroine’s mind with all sorts of crap. He once told Heroine that Aishwarya Rai had a nude scene in a Hollywood movie, and this poor chap skipped school for the next few days and rummaged through seventy four porn sites and Wikipedia and even asked it on quora. By the end of his campaign, xvideos sent him their catalogue with various premium packs and alluring discounts, which he furiously trashed. Also, a few quora guys called him a pervert.
Now it was some shit about gloomy Sunday. I looked beyond his shoulders, far into the branching streets of SOP lit by a row of isolated streetlamps, and the vast emptiness surrounding them. The world couldn’t be any sadder. I wondered if people would really die after listening to some Hungarian harp rather than witnessing something gloomier, things like poverty, murder, or their Maths result. Rana was already busy googling away as the rest of us decided which side to take on. We had our own qualms, but we were kind of sure we would not die. But when I was a kid, one of my friend’s friend too was pretty sure he would not die.
“People are stupid. It’s so shallow I can see tortoises running down there. “He pointed at the notorious green pond of the village. Then he jumped in and died.
“Here, Ravish. Download it. “He said.
Now, people, whenever I’m in a group, I tend to project myself as a modern man who doesn’t believe in superstition. I give all sorts of rational, logical, scientific arguments and show people how ghosts and shit are things embedded deep into their psyche rather than being real things. Then I go home and google five ways to protect yourself from a succubus.
“I think the person who claims should download it. And cmon Rana, you are brave. Don’t tell me you think it’s true! “I said, as if I was on a social awareness campaign.
“Of course I don’t. “Rana replied even more emphatically, and added, “but I am yet to enter IIT and get married and you know. Plus you are a commerce student. Nobody gives a shit if you die. ”
“Yes. That’s true. “Said the rest of them.
And so I set it to download. A few minutes later, others started downloading it too. We all took up Prince’s room, closed the door from inside, switched on the light and put on a curse on whoever tried to switch it off. Then we waited patiently, counted as the song slowly oozed into our phone’s memory.
“It’s done. “Rana said.
“Yes. “I said.
And then, we played it.
It was our last night alive. “Half a dozen teenagers found dead in a hostel room ” – I could see the newspaper titles. We had no reason to commit suicide but millions to justify it. Poor marks, no girlfriends, aimless and pathetic life glutted with porn and chronic masturbation. I was feeling sad before even it had begun.
At first, we couldn’t make out anything. It was so low as if composed in infrasonics.
“Do people kill themselves because they can’t hear it? “One of us asked. We shshsh-ed him.
And finally, it hit our ears. Oh. My. God. What. An. Overestimated. Piece. Of. Shit. It was like, like, that fat lady song which results in the shattering of window panes and which highbrow, suited people listen to anyway. It’s the song that ruins dates and shoots global noise population levels by a million and scares aliens away. It was more annoying than it was scary or sad. I’d die faster listening to Barney song rather than this crap.
“Why didn’t we die? Does anyone feel suicidal? Are we going to sleep together? “They all began to ask, and I wondered what if it was a cursed song and what if we were really going to die. The mind is always delusional. I was scared when one of my friends called. He said hello and suddenly a girl started laughing in my ears. I shrieked and dropped the phone. Later, he clarified that it was his friend and he had no idea why she was laughing.
“Enough shit for a day!! “I said as I hung up and went to my room. I researched more about Gloomy Sunday and realised it was indeed a very sad song.
The next morning, I woke up with a fine air, and thanked the heavens for not pulling my soul out of my body. I reminded myself of all the goals and dreams and places where I had to have sex and deleted the goddamn song before starting my day.
When light is darker than the shadows..
The night is ablaze again. The sky burns with unsteady flickers of turquoise and emerald. It seems like the heavens are awaiting a sorcerer’s spectacle. Down on the earth, one million LED Boards, shaped like peacocks and flowers and women holding flowers, sparkle brilliantly. In the shadows echo the blissful laughters of small, rugged children….
Welcome to the Disneyland, the small travelling funfair that is set up every year in my hometown. The preparations begin a month before and a century of trucks get parked in the Rangbhoomi maidan. Workers start setting the poles and gradually we see giant swings rising up, part by part, till they are ready to launch your soul up in the sky.
When I was a kid, I’d clutch my mother’s fingers and hop for the next 20 minutes till we reached Disneyland. It was my dream to enter the place and never leave. I so wanted to hide beneath those counters and sneak out when everybody left. I’d go on from stalls to stalls, eat everything and sneak everything and maybe even take the taking parrot home. No I won’t go home. It was a dreamy world, my own spectacle, the Disneyland.
Then, as it happens, I grew up. The sparkles don’t attract me anymore. I stay outside, licking Ice Golas with my friends, discussing the outrageous pricing policies of Samosa Vendors in the fair.
“The same Ice Gola would cost double inside that little tent. “Atif says as he crushes the ice to make a solution.
“They wouldn’t call it Ice Gola inside that little tent. It’d be a Ferrero Ice or something. ”
We laugh at this silly joke and carry on.
Last night, my friends desperately wanted some cigarettes. I accompanied them to the kiosk in front of the Disneyland and they made a face and said,
“Ravish. You never gave us a treat. ”
I knew those bastards were asking me to pay for their cigarettes. I could have refused but it wouldn’t have changed anything. So they bought two goldflakes and vanished into the distant shadows to blow up giant smoke rings, feel weightless and heavenly as their souls floated and their lungs rotted.
I meandered about, watching those lightboards, and how those lit the empty sky but left the crumbling earth with a sad silent bleakness.
The world above my chest was a world of light. The kids in front of my eyes, however, weren’t tall enough. They hid behind the cars, chasing each other, playing hide and seek, running with unrestrained shrieks of laughter. They collided with light occasionally, exposing their boney frames, their tattered clothes, their immortal smile, but the next moment they disappeared again. When you stared hard you could make out their existence. There was a time my eyes would follow the lights, but age changes your perspective. Now shadows attract me more. I followed those happy little kids and all those people who lived in the mini slum at the periphery of Rangbhoomi, all of them enjoying their own picnic on the carpets of grass, talking amongst themselves sitting in the dark and watching the lighted sky.
I wished I could listen to them, the things they talk, the jokes they crack. But no matter how close I went, the posh roar of Disneyland buried their feeble whispers. The crackles and the joy, everything seemed muted, yet unwavering. The delight was pure. But the dazzling lights exposed their misery. I could see their wounds, the gradual, persistent erosions that had washed away their layers, but not the souls. Perhaps they were the lives of the shadows, it was the light that made them look ugly.
The world of light is actually darker. Full of shadows sneaking about, wearing a million faces, sneering, jabbing, lying, squabbling.
The people in front of me were the fireflies of dark.
“Do you have more money, we got to have chewing gums? “My friends asked.
“Fuck off. “I said and we moved.
The kid inside me jerked to life again. But this time, I didn’t want to stay in Disneyland all my life. I wanted to stay in the shadows, with those fireflies…
The final lag of the voyage. 😂
Problems are like bananas – they always come in a bunch. So when I scooted back to platform number 3 and found the train I was supposed to board, I started looking for my name on the charts stuck on the coaches. I checked half a dozen coaches, and my heart had almost sunk to hell when my brain kicked off. I checked my ticket. It said coach number B1. The tickers were showing B1 in front of a coach. So I went in.
Oh my Seven Heavens! Hot north eastern girls! I stood there, dumbstruck and awed, and partially erect, wondering if my fortunes had reached the crescendo. Clad in shorts, they all owned pretty huge assets. The one exactly opposite to me was hot as hell. Pretty eyes, wavy hair, and mountainous breasts. I recalled all those wonderful sex stories from antarvasna that were themed on train journeys. I knew everything. I could execute it like Mr. Sins. I was ready for it.
“Could I see your ticket, please? “The ticket checker asked, overly polite for his profession.
“Sure. “I said and pulled my phone out. I had the ticket in my gallery. But I also had 4 porn albums in my gallery, which I seemed to forget. So as I opened it, vaginas flashed on the screen. I quickly scrolled down. The ticket checker stared at me as if I was a Mujahideen.
“Just a second. “I said and scrolled down further. At last, I found the ticket. He studied the ticket as if it were some staphylococcus specimen and turned to me, and spoke, with a sheepish grin,
“This is not B1, gentleman, this is S7. Go find it before the train leaves. ”
What the hell! I was 99.9 percent sure that the ticket checker was fooling with me. But then the girls nodded and laughed too, so with a heart shattered into a hundred pieces, and a shrunken Godzilla, I stepped down. 3 minutes left for tbe train to leave.
I ran along up and down the length of the train, twice, and yet I couldn’t find B1. As the train was about to leave I hopped into an unnumbered coach. It turned out that it was B1.
Who were my copassengers? A family of four fat, ugly people, a wailing kid with his unattractive mother, a child who slept so much he was probably dead and three North. Eastern. MEN.
I had no food and so I spent the whole 32 hours long journey feeding myself on overpriced undercooked semi rotten Samosas. Despite that the toilets were dirtier than a bug’s intestines, I peed a dozen times. I recalled how one of my friends had heroically recounted his epic stunt of jerking off in a moving train, and wondered if I should repeat it. But then I dropped the idea. I can’t work under extreme, non-romantic conditions.
I watched movies and listened to It ain’t me, repeated the lyrics and secretly cried. And then I got sick of Samosas and rain and everything I liked so I mummified myself in a blanket and dozed till eternity.
When I reached Katihar, I was a wreckage. And I could kill for a food product that wasn’t Samosa.
On reaching home, I gorged on the royal food my mother had prepared. I could give up Samosas for this food. Anytime. Unconditionally.