Friday, February 22, 2008

Fragility of a diamond

It was a beautiful morning. The overcast weather and smell from air caused from previous night rain all combined into a beautiful fugue. As part of routine, which was carefully developed after years and years of scrutiny, Leo was returning home from 3 rounds of physically exhausting but enlightening jog. The beauty of nature smote him that day very contradictory to his attitude, which was embroiled in the vortex of sedentary life. He was completely oblivious to how the world is going to change from that day until he met the love of his life.
Leo could vaguely remember a face in the crowd the other day; she’d a pleasant smile on her countenance. Her hazel eyes, and pink lips had beefed up a subtle likeness, and he was confused if that was a crush or love at first sight! ‘Love’, that delusional word had never occurred conventionally in his life hitherto, and hence the feeling that was developing left him grounded for a while. There were some mental blocks in him, he was a grotesque stammer, and that to some extent made him introvert and taciturn.
Completely enamored by her, Leo was finding every aspect of life so different. On his way to office his attention deviated to the odd life around him. He suddenly started to bask pleasure from watching the juvenile’s playing, rustic people going through their life, song from the nightingale, which he has been ignoring all through because of his drudgery life. On back of all this, his heart still thronged for those beautiful moments that lasted only for a minute.

His day started with a greet from a beautiful receptionist, but Leo was living in another planet to even notice her. His mind was torn asunder, a part of it was taken away by her, a part of it was flummoxed about how to interpret those few minutes and a part of it was warning about the irksome obligations imposed by life. Leo was a workaholic and was looked upon by everyone, even by seniors as an individual who can weather the storm to meet his commitments. He proudly holds the employee of the year for last 2 years ever since he joined Initcom. But today was very different.
“Hey Leo! Good Morning,” Frank wished with a grin as he passed by. Leo reciprocated.

“What’s up? How’s the party last night? Heard you’d your adrenaline pumped up so much that you danced and then proposed Leena?” Frank facetiously placed the questions.

“Umm......Did I? My Gawwd!!!! That must have been freaky, I hardly remember!!” Leo exclaimed.

“Yeah, we know that; Marc managed to drop you at home, else you’d have slept on the dance floor!” Frank conceded.

“Hey, by the way, Boss was sneaking at your cubicle, he was pretty apprehensive of the books you’ve kept there! We figured out that he was not happy, though he didn’t look livid!”

Leo flinched. He’d completely forgotten about that book 'How to Manage your Manager' by Roald Emmersion. He was in a hurry as he’d to hit the disc by 8:00 p. It was already 7:50 p at that time. He knew Pooja would frown if she didn’t see him there.
The curse from the traffic was standing tall for Leo to make it on time to the party. Not surprisingly Pooja was livid about Leo being late again, who cannot say no to extra work in office. Vis-à-vis his inability to ‘say no’ she gifted leo her favorite book about 'Managing one's manager'. Out of frustration and anger Pooja pulled Leo into the pub, who was little taken back by the grotesque dressing of the girls.

“Wasssup dude ?” Greeted several of his college mates. Then out of the blue came Leena, the diva of his college time whom every one wanted to date. She started to flirt with Leo much to the chagrin of Pooja, whose presence was completely lost in the oblivion.

All attempts from his friends to make Leo dance were futile. Sitting at one desolate corner looking at the crowd dancing wildly, Leo started to get strange questions from nowhere. What do all these gals want? Whom do I trust? Leena, who has a never-ending history of boyfriends! Pooja, the source for all negative energy!!! Leo was confused, for the first time in his life he realized he was all alone despite being surrounded by so many friends. Unable to digest this truth and overwhelmed by mixed emotions, Leo found it comfortable to be lost in the whirlpool of alcohol.
“Hello! Where can we find you? You seem to be completely lost!!” Frank and others giggled, as Leo snapped back to the present from his deep musings. He feigned a sheepish smile in appreciation and moved towards his cubicle. It was customary for him to restart the system every morning. He’d relentlessly complained about his system being an archaic one, and hence too slow, painstakingly failing to gain attention from his manager about it.

Someday, he’d scream out to everyone’s bedazzlement “This system sucks BIG TIME and so does every member of this office including the dunderheaded asinine buffoon I’m reporting to, and nothing constructive can be done to the working environment out here if it is left suo motu!!”
How melodramatic that’d be, he chortled.
Then he thought about that face again, the same thought which had made at least the previous morning better. Somehow he couldn't remember the source of the face - had he seen it in a crowd somewhere, or somewhere on the same stupid computer he constantly cribbed about. It won't be a surprise if it the source turned out to be the latter one, given the numerous social networking sites he was a member of. The loner inside him urged him to erase that memory and submerge himself into more cribbing thoughts, but something made him keep coming back to the face.

"Hello Mr. Manager manager, how do you feel this morning?", said Boss, peeping in.
(God, how I hate it when he barges in like that!)

"I think you are being a redundant idiot this morning Bob."
(What did I just say?!!!)

" just say?" Bob asked, his eyes widening.
(You can still handle it, blame it all upon a rush of blood to the head)

"Stammering wont help your cause asshole. You repeated the word manager, imagining that it would be a funny way to show your sarcasm. Seems I am not amused."
(Ok, job gone. When was that interview for Comsoft scheduled?)

"I...I...I....will..."stammered Bob, his face all red with indignation and embarrassment.

"Keep the change" blurted Leo, and stormed out of his cubicle. Surrounded by astonished glances from all around, he kept murmuring "Shit" at regular intervals.

What was happening to him, he thought. His 'thoughts' were fast becoming his 'actions'! His inability to entertain any distraction while thinking about that pristine face was becoming more and more pronounced!
Nobody had dared to speak with such repugnant effrontery ever at Initcom that far. Leo had shown the proscenium to a blatant conflict with Bob, and moved out of the bay, into the open air, feeling blood gushing through his veins and heart pounding conspicuously in cadence! Frank hurried immediately to offer help, as he knew Leo went berserk quite often when in a bad mood! But that day, matters were worser. Leo could never have retaliated so strongly!

“That was well done! That insolent needed a perfect slap on his ignominious face!” Frank lauded Leo. Now that he’d done what was not to be done, there was no turning back!

“The HR interview is a formality at Comsoft,” Leo said blankly. He’d every reason to be boorish! He wouldn’t care about anything now as he knew he’d be provided with almost a 50% increment in emoluments.

“I was expecting that as an explanation to this,” Frank smiled. “But, I’d say a job well done! You’ve shown character! The argots were timely and well placed! You’d have better seen his face, after you’d left! He’d cringed!”

Leena, Pooja & Anthony came out as well, their faces happy as if they’d won a battle of publicly disgracing and debilitating Bob!
After gathering all the fake sympathies, Leo left office.

“Why do these jobless idiots use preposterous pickings from the most ornate lexicon while describing my life?!!” he thought out aloud, much to the amusement of his co-passengers in the city bus. Then he laughed at his own indulgence.

Leo & his life were objects of commentary by a few people scattered around the globe. He didn’t know how they could keep such a close eye on his life. Every thought, every action, every movement of his was tracked and written about in a weblog somewhere. Leo had a fleeting recollection of seeing the log somewhere. Not that he intended to do something about it; it was good to see people having interest in his otherwise insipid existence. But he wondered about the amount of involvement these people were having in his life – were they just disinterestedly noting down his life on a computer screen somewhere, or were they making things happen. He wondered whether that face he thought about was ‘inserted’ in his memory, whether that argument he just now had was ‘orchestrated’, and whether all his predicaments from the previous night’s party were also a product of some other mind on which he was deliberately made to ponder upon? He had once attended a seminar on writing somewhere, and had learnt that authors regard their creations as human as they themselves are. Couldn’t it be that a character may be described so perfectly that he may ‘come alive’?

Leo shivered, and pinched himself to reaffirm his reality.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An unprecedented deafening noise in his milieu startled him; he cringed like a snail, closed his eyes automatically, he felt it safe to stop breathing for a while. For a moment his mind went completely blank, as if there could have been no thoughts there! He couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe, the clock had stopped ticking; the moment had frozen for an instant. He felt as if thousand spears were piercing his body and he’d been muted so that he couldn’t scream in agony. A juggernaut had smashed him to a steel fortified wall with great force. Ears started ringing, and he felt his eyes would pop out from their sockets. Something had gone terribly wrong; his senses didn’t help him discover what had. Loud shrieks of people filled the air along with groans and sighs. Ennui cropped in the passengers as they started running haywire, as if the world had come to an end. Leo opened his eyes slowly, befuddled. Everything appeared blurred and florid. He was in a strange situation; no one would call his name, no one would come up to him, each person to his own! The entire scene was gory. Leo felt a pain in his head and also discovered he was thrown out of the bus window, and had landed in the grass near the road; he could sense he was bleeding badly. He couldn’t lift his head, the pain was excruciating. Other people around him cried for help and contorted uncomfortably. His hands and legs had contusions as well, which were conspicuous as blood spurted out of them incessantly. The bus had crashed in to a loaded Goods carrier. The driver was smashed along with a few of the front seat passengers.

Leo failed miserably as he tried to pull himself up, and lost his senses.
Two days past the tragic accident, Leo has recovered mentally but the fractures in his legs and hands prevented him from much physical activity. He was holed to his bed day in day out. Inevitably he was in complete rage with himself and world. Hitherto, he could not understand why he was feeling so, but slowly started to realise that he was incapable to remain inactive as he was a workaholic. Jobless, physically unstable and mentally disturbed Leo was still desperate to get his life moving and escape the bohemian life he was living. For inexplicable reasons Leo woke up at 4Am the next day, he headed straight for a jog. But was livid again, as he struggled to keep running. The pain surfacing from the ruptured viscera was too much. He was struggling to keep balance, slowly his eye lids became very heavy. Whole world around him came stumbling down reminescent to the affliction he suffered 3 days back. He stumbled down but was semi-conscious to understand what just happened to him.

As Leo fended with his weakness to stand, a helping hand came from no where. It gave him an assuage feeling he never felt in his life. Right there he was emanciapted from the demons of dormant life. A sweet voice greeted him "Hey!! Are you okay?!". He turned back to see a prisitine face. His mind could not make a map of her picture to anything pleasant he felt in his life so far. Completely enamored by her simplicity, charm and elan Leo could not hear what she was asking him. He wanted the freeze that moment and live there watching her for rest of his life. He came to the realisation that it was the same girl he saw few days ago. With this realisation Leo heart started to pump as if some one was playing squash ball inside him.

"Hey!! I think i know you. You must be Leo... !!!!!! " queried the girl.

BUZZzzzzzz....... Leo regained control over his senses on hearing that question.

"Wha!! Whatttt .... Whatttt. You know ....know... .. me !!! " stammered Leo.
The next moment Leo found himself staggering against a ton of people around him; all of them looking inside his eyes, with myriads of unanswered questions in their eyes. Leo found himself lying on the hospital bed, a bottle of saline hanging on his right side and a long-long tube running way inside a vein near his right elbow joint. He looked around and thought "... but I was trying to jog and I fell and I met that Goddess! ... where is she??" He felt like moving himself out of disappointment, curiosity, astonishment and frustration, but the bottom of his leg felt so heavy! He tried to move his right arm far, but alas, that tube was wrekking his whole inside, delineating his body balance entirely. He felt like bursting into a subtle but profound pain inside; but one question popped up time and again, "Was that a dream? Or reality? Am I being trapped? Is someone trying to 'program' my thoughts and my life process?"

Questions after questions dreaded him of his life all the more. Suddenly he felt a darkening veil in front of his tired eyes; a long thin needle felt like going inside his arm, drowning him in a little bit of pain, delivering a blurry white fluid inside him - it was his dose to relax and fall asleep.

Frank has not been going home for the past couple of days since Leo's accident; though he promised to the hospital authorities not to let Leo know of it, once he regains consciousness, and he also promised it to himself he won't see Leo in this excruciating pain. Though an atheist, every now and then he felt like retiring to that "fictitious power" to render Leo fine soon.

Engrossed in all these thoughts, Frank suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. It was the doctor. "Can I see you in my chamber for a moment please? I assume you are with the accident patient Leo," said the doctor. "Yeah yeah, sure. Which way is it?" Frank replied.

Frank rose from that white wooden bench to follow the doctor. It has had literally turned into his living abode since Leo landed up in the hospital. A hardly four feet long chair-like structure, painted white with no cushions, Frank almost forgot that last month only he had to go to the therapy for backache and the therapist told me to minimize sleeping or sitting in weird positions - his insatiable desire to lie on the couch and watch football on the TV. But these things would hardly matter to Frank then.

It was a confusing long labyrinthine way to the doctor's chamber. Every nook and corner he would see somebody weeping: the pain you feel when your loved one is in pain. Frank suddenly felt like he went back twenty years back - to a childhood which was as disturbed as it could be; and how as destiny's irony, even after all that, he and Leo have landed up on the same small
on earth today! He could not even feel bad for Leo - his feeling was as eerie as one could imagine.

"Please come in, Mr Frank..." said the doctor.

"Thank you Doctor. So what is it like you want to talk to me about Leo? How long is he going to take to recover? I think we have to keep stricter watch on him - his going out for jogging today morning was too freaking!" blurted out Frank all of a sudden.

"Don't worry Mr Frank. We would be taking special care of him. But I wanted to talk to you about Leo and his past life. How long do you know him?" replied the doctor.

"Oh My God! Is he okay? Why do you want to know of his past life? Is he suffering from another attack again?" Frank was too jostled to reply like that.

"Cool down, cool down, its okay. We just want to be sure about everything about Leo's case. But you didn't reply how long do you know him?" doctor didn't know how better he could handle this situation!

"It has really been a long time Doctor. I have known him since the past twenty years. Things were all red and rosy, till the day a storm brought a female face in his life..."

"What do you mean, Mr Frank? We need to do a comprehensive background check. I am afraid it seems the case would need to be transferred to a psychiatrist!" said the doctor out of surprise and little hint of frustration...

Frank now knew with certainty, that, like the past twenty years, history is going to repeat all over again...
The weather was peculiar at New York. It was very hot in the day, and nights were cooler only if you managed to sleep under the sky. It was very hot inside Leo’s room! He fought hard to get a wink of sleep, but failed miserably. His parents weren’t sleeping either, in their room.

“Momma, can I go up to the terrace for a while? I’d come back after sometime. I guess it’s cooler up there.”

Momma allowed him, but, only for a while. They were, anyway, busy in discussing the tour ahead, the itinerary decision! His momma had previous ideas as she’d been reading some travel magazines lately, which had comprehensively covered a tour to New York and places of interest around the city. Leo’s father liked traveling a lot and he’d take his wife and son along with him mostly. This time it was a pre-planned trip to US from New Delhi. Probably the last trip before they’d decide to settle in the US. Leo was fourteen at that time, and his parents found it the right time to consider his studies and career seriously.

As Leo moved, he could hardly find anyone on his way up to the terrace. It was around 12:00 am and that part of the city seemed to be in deep slumber. Despite the city becoming more respectable for tourists, New York is still chock full of the sinful delirium that we all know and love.The city lights were amazing, and the clear inky sky provided an enthralling astral view. Leo could see a human figure, that of a girl, on the terrace away from the entrance to it. Discreetly and slowly, he moved forward to find out as to who it was. To his utter surprise he recognized that girl over there; it was same benign face which had been haunting him over and over again! She was standing with her back towards him; her body was covered with a thin shawl. He took a chance and went ahead, he lauded himself for that!

“Hey, how are you doing? It’s too hot inside my room.”

She didn’t have a reason to disagree on chatting with him. After all what harm could a small boy cause to her at night. What she least expected Leo to have was him being a bit perverted and having bland ulterior motives! She’d no chance of reading his mind and he enjoyed that, although he didn’t think of any other amorous advance towards her. Leo wanted to talk to her, he experienced a divine bliss in that, but he needed to inform momma before he could continue talking.

“I got to ask momma before I come, wait for me.”

He hurried back the stairs and stormed into their room. “Momma, she’s up there on the terrace, I’m having a chat with her, and I’d be coming back in some time.” Leo apprised.

“Why would you need to talk with her at this hour, you are not going!” Momma was frigid. He didn’t know as to how he could convince her. He couldn’t have ignored informing her, as, he was supposed to make her au fait with every single move he’d decide to make, and take a formal permission for the same. After all he was a Momma’s boy at that time!

“Momma, pur-leez!! She won’t eat me! She’s not a kidnapper and you know that!” He blurted out satirically.

“You are not going! I don’t want your reasons!” Momma scowled.

He knew that mellowing down his tone should be a good effort to melt ice. Prospect of playing emotions was always a good motivation for mom, to allow him to be harmlessly naughty, eclipsing her motherly genuine compunctions.

“Momma pleaaaaaaaaaaase! Just for some time! Please Please …. Please!” He badgered. And then, he went up to her, placed his arms around her and planted a kiss on her cheeks.

“Boy, you’re nagging like anything! I’m worried. Okaaay! You don’t have to feign it! You will come back in fifteen minutes Leo. If you don’t I’ll go there, pull your ears and get you back here, mind my words!!” Momma conceded too soon, she knew he’d be inexorably insistent!

“Gosh!! That was a huge relief; at least momma won’t be sneaking on me for the next fifteen minutes!” Leo sighed. He’d the time of his lifetime. Those fifteen minutes, the onus was on him to make them interesting, joyous and what not.

“Whims of a confounded brat at midnight! Why do you ….” Momma’s voice faded as he hurried back to the girl.

“I’m back!” Leo was excited.

Suddenly, the face vanished into thin air, Leo could see her giggling and moving away, he ran hard to get near her, she’d continuously move away, to the stars. He could see so many faces all of a sudden, staring at him. His mind went blank again, and mouth agape when he found himself on the hospital bed.

“Leo, don’t worry, this injection will make you alright,” the doctor sounded very reassuring, but what he didn’t understand was Leo’s current state of mind.
The clock went berserk. Leo fended to turn off the intruder into his dreams. Looking at the date on the digital clock, Leo wondered it’s been 3 months, 2 days since he was discharged from hospital.

“I need to get a life, … “ murmured Leo.

“I cant remain bedridden like this forever, This sedentary life is taking toll on me .. ” Leo told to Frank who just entered his room from an early morning jog.

“I think you can get one, provided you make best use of next 12 hours.” Replied Frank, closing the door.

“Hmm! What was that suppose to mean, did I get another appointment to asylum.. ” Quipped Leo

They both erupted into laughter. They resembled kids laughing blissfully without any irksome obligations, until Frank broke the status quo.

“I forwarded your resume to Initech yesterday, I told about your health problem. They have no issues in hiring you as your profile matches their opening and are impressed at your track record, provided you meet their incessant work demands.”

“How does the HR look? ” questioned Leo.

“That’s not important!” replied Frank

“How much time do I have…… to prepare for the interview of course!!! ” gagged Leo naughtily.

“Tomorrow 10:30 Am” busted Frank

“What! I hardly have 24 hrs, I need to get started” Leo said gathering his moribund faculties of mind.

Frank left the room wishing Leo Good Luck, as Leo staggered around his room searching for all study documents, which had been bedraggled with fungus for an eon. He recollected the last time he read them was 3 years ago. Strangely, he enjoyed this rush, as this interview gave Leo to be actively consumed on something.
“But Frank was here … he was talking about an interview with some company!” Leo gapped.

“Relax! No-one was here, you got to trust me Leo,” said the beautiful nurse, trying to comfort him.

“But I saw I had recovered from the accident! I was well, I was able to walk, pleaaaaase tell me that was not a dream! Please sister!” Leo sounded pathetically depressing.

“I can’t live in this way, somebody’s acting in my mind, I can hear a voice, some lady’s in my mind, telling me what to do what not to.” Leo continued deliriously.

“We’ll see to that later Leo, you need to get well soon, your fractures are quite serious”

“Noooooooo! Call Frank! Tell him to come here, please!” Urged a discontented Leo.

“We’ll do that, this injection is necessary” The nurse knew Leo could get violent all of a sudden, she didn’t take chances. There were more treatments to be done, and if Leo was awake he could go through more traumas.

For him, the light stopped flickering as he, slowly, dozed off into a deep sleep, moaning out “Frank…. Fra…..”

Meanwhile, Frank continued his conversations with the doctor.

“Mr. Frank! Does Leo have faint memories of a girl in her life?” The doctor asked, and continued “We are handling a very critical case out here; Leo’s accident has been derogatory for his memory. Thank Jesus, he didn’t suffer from a loss of memory, but we assume he’s hallucinating more often! None of us out here want Leo to be maimed for life!”

“Doctor, Leo did talk a lot about a girl when he was younger. He’d discuss at length, with me, the animated conversations he had with her. I don’t know for sure if the girl was imaginary, because I never saw her. But, Leo was so certain, that he’d point out the things he’d found out about the girl, so lively were those conversations that you’d never get a feeling.” Frank explained.

“I need to tell you a pretty strange thing about Leo.” Frank continued “Something, I believe, that would help you in his treatment.”