Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Unforgiven | Original Short Story

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

As he stumbled out of the bar, Jay knew he had again drunk one too many. It was a particularly cold January night in Calcutta. Park Street was deserted except for the lonely prostitute on her beat at the crossing. He wished that he could just go back in and fumbled about for change. His luck was as empty as his pockets. With a wry smile, he knew it was time to stagger on. He adjusted the hood of his threadbare sweatshirt, half thanking the smugglers who had stolen the gora sahib’s generous donation to the Missionaries of Charity, and plugged his walkman on.

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all…

Jay trudged down Park Street, shivering every time the cruel wind teased him. As he passed by the Post Office, his mind wandered back to his schooldays. His alma mater was just down the road but he hadn’t been there in a while. Fueled by hazy meandering memories, he crossed the road, longing to see where it all started.

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool,

Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules…

Standing in front of the familiar pale yellow grandiose facade of his school, Jay broke into a crazed guffaw! Indeed this is where it had all started. The starting of the end. His faithfully middleclass parents had been over the moon when Jay had been admitted to the most prestigious school in the city. After all, it almost guaranteed that their dear son was on his way to make it in life. However, a boys’ school on the inside can be as unforgiving as a jail and unfortunately Jay soon found out. Battered by his teachers’ barbs and his mates’ bloody blows, Jay was a submissive wreck by the time he finally passed out of school.

The constable keeping vigil at the Police Station across the road had been rudely disturbed from his slumber by Jay’s laughter. He sought retribution and charged towards Jay.

It was a familiar scene for Jay and he beat a trained hasty retreat towards Wood Street. He knew that the obese constable would not waste his breath on scum like him for long. Such parasites were not worth a paisa in kamai and would just add to the rotting souls in the lockup. Anyway, even in his drunken stupor, Jay could outrun the havaldar. On this night however, Jay was momentarily tempted to stop and get into the snug comforts of the lockup… anything was better than the January cold!

As he had turned into Short Street, Jay slowed down to catch his breath. His bloodshot beady eyes scoured the footpath for the momentary salvation from nicotine - a cigarette stub was gold. At least he had his song for company…

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,

When you can't really function you're so full of fear…

But, fear had become alien to him. It had died the day he was first thrashed by a mob for having got caught picking a babu’s pocket. That is the career destiny chose for him for. He had chosen to be an engineer like any other Bengali bhalo chele and cleared the JEE with flying colours. The entrance coaching classes had been his safe haven from the school bullies . Besides, engineering, he was told, was the ticket to the good life. After all, India was in the midst an IT boom.

His plans exploded in his face the day he stepped inside the sprawling South Calcutta university campus. He was forcibly inducted by members of the student union. Dharnas and ganja replaced classes and exams. The new found power had corrupted his fragile mind. The more he craved for violence and weed, the more his life tailspun out of control. With their pride prematurely snuffed out, his parents had no choice but abandon him...

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see…

Swoosh! A car nearly ran him down at the Loundon Street crossing. The shock jolted him back to the present misery. He stumbled back up on his feet and adjusted the volume on his walkman. He had found it in the bag he had remorselessly stolen from the old mashima yesterday. The cassette was his sole remnant from his college days.

Tears streamed down his dirty cheeks. He knew he had tried to be a working class hero, but that was not to be. Never mind what Johnny sang to him...

There's room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill,

A working class hero is something to be.
If you want to be a hero well just follow me…

If you've enjoyed reading this, do check out my first short story "Phantasama"

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. And of course, the song is "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon...