Thursday, March 8, 2012


I looked at my watch. It was 10:30. Twenty more minutes left for the class to end. An eternity, more like. I tried to strain my eyes on the board, barely able to make out half the words. I had absolutely no idea what class was going on. I wasn’t sure whether anyone else in the classroom did, either.

Unable to concentrate any further, I drowsily turned to look outside the window. Through the corner of my eye I caught a faint glimpse of a handful of bees buzzing around in circles. A little further off into the distance, there seemed to be some construction work going on. There always was.

And then I looked down at the sheet of paper lying in front of me.


No, wait. There was small circle drawn somewhere in the corner, with the letters ‘MC’ scrawled untidily in it. I was supposed to hand in my article for 19a by the end of the day. This was the plot, and all I’d come up with so far was that it would have a ‘main character’ in it. Brilliant.

Suddenly, Neha turned to tell me something. “Oye-lucky-lucky-oye is a palindrome.”

“What?!,” I asked, taken aback. And everyone around us burst into muffled laughter. I smiled, too. A much needed break from the monotony.

Rajiv glanced at the piece of paper, too. “Wassup, homie?,” he said, “Still no luck with the plot, eh? You know what? You should go out, man. Get some inseparation,” he said.

“Inspiration,” I corrected him.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. Technical mistake,” he quickly replied.

Seeing as I desperately needed to get away from the class anyway, the moment the period ended, I walked out with the two of them in tow.

Once outside, I noticed that the place wasn’t bustling with much activity, for some reason. A friend of mine was deeply engrossed in a copy of Moscow Vector. And another handed me some notes. 'Kulla' (shorty), she called out to Rajiv. They spoke for a bit as I looked around the place. That was about it.

I suddenly remembered that I had to meet someone in the post office regarding a cash transaction.

“Is his name Mani?” Rajiv asked, “Coz then you can just do Mani-transfer. Get it? Money transfer?” He winked at me and both of them started giggling. I dropped my pencil and face-palmed myself in frustration, but gave in to the laughter eventually.

“Or, if his name is Deepu, we could ask him to Deepu-sit the money. Get it? Deposit?” I said, as my face lit up.

“You’re stupid, or what? If you want to deposit something then why do you need another guy? You can do it yourself,” Rajiv countered. And then he and Neha broke off into boisterous peals of laughter. I smiled slowly, accepting defeat.

As we walked further, we saw a mangled heap of metal that was the remains of a BMW-sedan and a REVA. The irony. I could hear the sirens of a cop-car echoing far away. In the adjacent lane, a few people were painting the sidewalk, and Neha went over to help them. I wanted to lend a hand, too, but couldn’t, as I had a bunch of things to do.

Upon reaching the post office, I received a text message. I frowned as soon as I finished reading it. I had to get back to college urgently. Rats. I frantically looked around for the man in question, finished off the work, and hastily bid Rajiv goodbye. He had some business of his own to take care of.

“Come online at 5,” he said while leaving.

“Sure,” I smiled, and turned to leave. The walk back was largely uneventful, save for an airplane momentarily screaming overhead. As I entered college, I was lost in thought about the article when—


Something hard hit my head from behind. I turned around in irritation to see what had caused it. But the moment I saw what it was, my anger evaporated, along with the sharp pain.

“What’s up?,” a voice spoke, cheerfully. It was Shalini. She had hit me with a book to catch my attention. “I thought you were in the post office? Then how did you come back so fas—”

“Speed post,” I interrupted.

“Oh, right,” she said, trying to suppress a snigger, “Should have expected that from a nerd like you.”

“Hey! Don’t call me that!”, I snapped.


“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Although, don’t actually try that, by the way. I’m really afraid of stones.”

“Really?! How come?” she inquired.

“Well, I had this dream once. It was a dark and stormy night. I was stealthily shooting some guards from a distance, when suddenly, alarms started going off everywhere. I ran up the stairs as quickly as I could to get cover, but on the top floor, there was a huge evil-robot that seemed to be bent on killing me. So I ran down again. On my way down, I slipped and fell, because my shoelaces were untied. So I threw them away, and bought a pair of chappals from a nearby shop. Just then, I saw a friend who had a bike, and we tried to get away, but his bike wouldn’t start. The next moment, I was at the top of the Malaysian twin towers, and I lost my footing and plunged downwards. When I woke up, my pillow was gone,” I rattled off effortlessly.

Shalini was at a loss for words for a few seconds. Finally, she spoke. “But you didn’t mention stones even once,” she said.

“Yeah, that’s because I’m claustrophobic,” I explained.

“What?!?! B-But that’s not even—” and then she stopped. “Ok, you win. By the way, sometimes I think that people live in their dreams for too long. Wake up.”

And just like that, I began wondering how life was all about dreams. Some people dream of being great writers, musicians, actors, among others, but how many of those dreams really get fulfilled? How many live in their dreams as a means of getting away from despair, and how many change their dreams into reality. About how much talent goes unnoticed. And then I remembered a verse from a poem by Thomas Gray—

‘Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air’

“Wake up,” she said again. Although this time her voice seemed different.

“Huh?” I mumbled.

“Class over. Let’s go, sleepyhead,” the new voice spoke again.

I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus. I was back in the classroom again. Evidently, I had dozed off. As I slowly tried to regain consciousness, the events that had recently unfolded played back in my head.

And then I looked down at the sheet of paper lying in front of me. There was small circle drawn somewhere in the corner, with the letters ‘MC’ scrawled untidily in it.

Sigh. Time to make a start...

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