A Man’s Best Friend…

… is not a dog, to put a common misconception to rest. It is, on the contrary, a very nicely-blended mix of scotch and soda, with lots of ice. 😀

I had been to a cocktail-dinner party last night at a seedy pub in a city, which had seen better days and the food left a lot to be desired. I wasn’t dressed appropriately, I had a bad headache, I had no intentions/interest/inclination/mood to attend the party, and yet, I had to go to fulfill certain commitments. Sigh, it’s been such a sad week so far, a week in which I reached a few decisions that I hope are the right ones and avoided a few more than I hope to avoid all my life! 😀

So, anyway, let me not get sidetracked. I’ll come back to the seedy dinner party last night, where I was sitting around, watching the horny cameramen take snaps of those vile and vulgar Page 3 crowd, and thought to myself, “Nikhil, you’re here, amidst a bevy of apparently hot chicks and over-fed, rich men and you’re wearing a dirty white shirt with sweat stains on the sleeves, a pair of trousers that are frayed around every corner and some weirdly horrifying pair of floaters – what’re you missing?”

Pat came the reply – a drink! 😀

I made my way to the crowded bar, where they were giving away free drinks, and I got myself a scotch and soda, and sat back and enjoyed the fake smiles around me. I watched the facade as a couple of dumb publicity hounder chicks in short skirts come up to me and say, “Hey, you are from…?”

I looked at them and said, “No, I am Nikhil,” and gave them my best I’m-not-interested smile.

They got the message and stopped following me around. Every room I entered in that pub, the terribly omnipresent Page 3 crowd was busy hugging complete strangers and getting their photo taken. And the photographers from these cheesy tabloids couldn’t get enough of them! “Get a room,” I wanted to scream out, when I realized that they had!! 😀

Anyway, I came back home around midnight from the party, and the only faithful companion throughout the party was my ever-present glass of scotch and soda. And when on my way back through the hauntingly empty streets of the city at midnight, a pair of dogs chased me, barking their lungs out, for almost two kilometers and that was when I decided that a man’s best friend is not really a dog. Dogs tend to change loyalties the minute someone offers them a juicier bone.

In a way, street dogs and those Page 3 photographers are similar – one is a filthy cross-breed that lurks the streets of town searching for a juicy ‘bone,’ and the other is a street dog! 😀

(Yikes!! Too vulgar?) 😀

Image Courtesy: Soumik
(Sourced from Google Image Results. I do not know this person!)

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Pokie

“There is a deeper,
Darker side of me that no one knows
And no one shall ever know.
It will perish with me…”

– Pokie, age 6, 1999

The knife looked so good – so strong, so brilliant in its glitter. He held it in his hands and turned it around, savoring its every curve, its every niche, and its every edge with a gleam in his eye. He licked his dry lips. Locked in his room, he could still hear the screams and shouts of pain, anger and agony from his parents’ room. He felt a knot tighten in his chest – tears forced through his closed eyes. He clutched the knife tightly and held it close against his heart. Why? he asked. Why me? Why now? But the knife – Oh, it looked so good. He smiled through his mental pain, through his agony. As the voices grew louder and louder in the other room, he knew that any moment now his father would burst through his room and repeat what he’d done to his mother. He would start with the belt whipping followed by some slapping around and finally…and finally…it…it was…it was too painful and too disgusting to think about. He cried softly, afraid to make a noise lest his father heard him. “Don’t hurt her,” he whispered through his tears. “I’m sorry, mama. But I can’t protect you. I can’t protect you…I can’t…I can’t…” He rocked back and forth, crying, hugging the knife dearly, and crouching in the corner of his dark room. Pokie was six years old when he cut his own wrists.

“There is a deeper, darker side of me that no one knows. It will perish with me,” said Pokie lying on the white sheets in the white hospital. It was white all around. His mother was sitting beside the bed, in her chair, sobbing quietly. Her tear-streaked face did not hide the red scars of that night. Her right eye was swollen and was turning black. She was bleeding through the ears, but did not complain. She looked down at the tiny, frail figure on the bed.

“Oh Pokie,” she whispered. “Why did you do it, honey?”

Pokie could not hear her. He was on a life support system, battling for his life. The doctor who had looked in hadn’t shown hope in survival. “A great loss of blood,” he had said. “And his blood group’s not too common. It may take a while to acquire it. I’m sorry.” She had cried that she was his mother and he could have every drop her blood if he wanted to. But the doctor had calmly refused saying that there was a mismatch. Please, she had cried. I am his mother! We have the same blood. Not quite, said the doctor.

Now, as she sat and cried, she heard the first rambling words of her six-year-old son, and was immediately out of the chair and by his side, leaning in through the plastic hood of the life support and egging him to speak.

Pokie was six years old when the power failed in the hospital and the life support, which did not have a battery back up, failed with it. Pokie was six years old when he died. He wasn’t the only one. His mother picked up hypodermic syringe lying on the table, filled it with air and thrust it into her veins. Pokie was exactly six years old. It was his birthday.

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“Pokie” was one of my earliest short stories, which has just been accepted into the New York Times’ creative young authors’ section. Passing the final reviews, it would be published in the online edition of NYT. ~ Yay ~ 😀
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