Friday, September 18, 2009

Phantasma | Original Short Story

This is my attempt at writing (and illustrating) a short story - do tell me what you think...

“Chotu -
ek cutting aur ek regular!”

I had enough of this darn placement season. 32 applications, 25 group discussions, 15 interviews in the past 4 months and still the most important statistic was that I had no job. I needed my daily fix - steaming hot half glass of bitter sweet tea and a cigarette to soothe my frayed nerves. Where was my box of matches now?

“Boss, lighter?”

I tapped a young guy standing near Chotu’s stall dressed in the similar Juhu Institute of Management blazer that I was wearing. He took in a long drag, smiled at me and tossed me his lighter nonchalantly. As I lit up, I admired the lighter. It was a Xippo Marley Javidson Iron Eagle Lighter – a collector’s item. This guy must have rich relatives in the States.

“Kya tension hai dost?” he asked calmly blowing out smoke rings – a skill I was yet to master. Somehow, he seemed to radiate an eerie zen like glow. Maybe it wasn’t just tobacco that he was smoking.

“Bad times.” I answered hoping that my curt answer would be the end of this conversation – I didn’t need small talk now. I kept fiddling with the lighter – I sure would want to get one of these soon.

“Relax! It could be worse, y’know… I heard one of our seniors – Deepak Jain – got fired from Layman and Sons day before. He’s was the star – the poster boy of our college placement brochure, you remember, don’t you? And why not – he’d got to live the Investment Banking dream on Wall Street!”

“Ah yes… Investment Banking - the extinct profession. So what is he going to do?”
“Beats me – I read in the Business Planet last week that some former Investment Bankers were seen begging for food in the States! And to think this guy got married last June.”

“Hmmm… tough luck, huh?” I was getting more impatient by the second. Big deal, everybody had their own tragedies!

“You could say that. He was soon to be a dad – next month in fact.”

“Damn. I hope it works out for Deepak soon.” I meant it this time - a child is God's greatest blessing...

With those words, I threw my cigarette stub and paid Chotu, who was looking at me strangely. I shrugged and turned around to return the lighter to the guy I was talking to but he seemed to have gone inside the college already. I wondered which course he was part of - if he knew the seniors so well, being acquainted with him could be an asset, I figured. In B-Schools, it’s all about networking. All that can be done later - I had another group discussion to go for and I rushed in.

As I entered college, my friend Rahul called out.

“Hey you heard the shocking news?”

“I got a job?!” I was half joking actually – that would be a shock.

He handed me the Bharat Daily Times.

“No you idiot. Read this. MBA kills wife, self. Deepak Jain, our senior shot his wife last night in New York. Then he shot himself in the head. It’s bad bro. His wife was eight months pregnant.”

“What a tragedy! He had got the highest package last year…”

But, I couldn’t hear Rahul anymore - my knees felt like they would give way in a second. I broke into a cold sweat. I knew the guy in the grainy photograph! He gave me a light barely five minutes back, the one in the college blazer, a quiet smile on his face.

It was Deepak’s year book picture. And his lighter was still in my pocket.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Do read the 'Newspaper clipping' - The picture was made at: - it's awesome! Try it out...

All characters and events are fictional and any resemblance to persons living, dead, or fictional or situations past, present, or fictional is purely and completely coincidental.
1. Something apparently seen but having no physical reality; a phantom or an apparition
2. An illusory mental image. Also called phantasma.
3. In Platonic philosophy, objective reality as perceived and distorted by the five senses.