Book 1: Page 39


My mother on the left, sobbing; my brother giving her assurance of my well being; a fruit basket on the right; and handful of well wishers from school on either side- this is what I had wanted to see upon opening my eyes. That was not to be. To my shock I saw two uniforms. One was a green shade of khaki and the other a starched white. I tried focusing but to no effect, their faces were not recognizable.

Keshav: He is awake! (I recognized the voice)

White Uniform: Let me see. Hmm I can’t measure the mental trauma, otherwise he looks fine. Let me just clean the wounds.

Akshay: Thank god! You are alright.

With divine intervention I was finally able to see. The person in white was actually a nurse. Unfortunately my sensory abilities had not returned completely. I had been searching for an expression of motherly kindness on her face. But all I could make out was a nose. Or shall I say I was interested only in the nose. This was a nose which degraded my life to catastrophic depths. It was a nose without nostrils, a rather annoying site.

The man in khaki turned out to be a forest official. He asked my friends a few questions.

Forest Official: Shall I interrogate him? (Pointing towards me, he asked the nurse.)

Nurse: Only if you must. Although let me tell you that he is not in his senses completely.

Book 1: Page 27, Para 2


My heart wanted to write about the immense beauty of the greens, but my hands were trembling with anxiety at the sight of the equally daunting woods. The jeep was covered from the top, but open in the back. We were comfortable with our luggage under the seat. A smile was noticeable on Sahib’s face. He was signalling something to Keshav, with the his squinting eyes. I had never seen him give such a smile since the fifth grade. I was clueless as to what would be coming my way. I turned towards Akshay who appeared very restless. It appeared as if he was framing sentences, probably to disclose something to me. Presumably he would soon make the announcement.

Into the Jungle
Into the Jungle

Book 1: Page 25, Para 1


…So my holidays were over and I was just too eager to be with my friends again. I was to start this season as the captain of the football team. I had reached a week earlier and had been staying with my uncle. He was my mother’s maternal cousin and my local guardian. People from my maternal side are exceptionally fond of me. Moreover they would very gaily play host to outstation relatives. My uncle famously remarked, “Be happy if someone comes to your home. In this world of many means, no one visits the other without a mean.” We shared a great rapport. However this was only one half of the true reason for my excitement. Three of my close friends and I had joined the Edmund Hillary mountaineering society at school which was a pioneer institution administering measured dosage of adrenaline to teenagers. Not only had we become addicted to this adventure sport but we were also under the impression that we were ready to take on the wild.

BOOK 1: PAGE 22, Para 3


Featured imageI was ashamed of what transpired that night. I vowed never to step on the stage again. Even the thought of facing the girls form the theatre troupe raised my hair on end. Mr. Charlie, my football coach was a happy man. I was training with a never before seen zeal. He could sense that I didn’t want to leave the field. He was sure that after that mortifying incident I would have nothing to do with girls from Wenham. However in the Meantime my teachers and friends tried to dispel my fears. In fact the principal invited me into his office for a counselling session. This was my life- study in the morning, play in the afternoon and sleep at night. I was left with little time to catch my breath leave alone thinking about that night. As a result the week following December the 23rd, occupied seven blank pages in my diary.

Book 1: Page 22, Para 1


I ran to the room where I had left my clothes. I wore the blazer over that despicable costume. The sheer fabric of the costume stuck to my body like a leach. I was full of regret and loathed the day I had chosen to step on the stage. Why had I been nominated for the play by Robot? Why had the girls not locked the green room? Why had i forgotten my long coat? Why had the practice room been so dark? Why had the mirror been strategically placed in the room? Why had that girl chosen the most important day of my acting career to walk into my life? That day that place, that fateful moment when everyone barged into the practice room, only to find me denuded by an illusionary woman? All this appeared to be the devil’s clockwork. I was still lost in my thoughts when Lady Penguin walked in. She took a seat beside me. I knew there were words in her mouth, sentences being framed by her mind, whispers being blown from her lips, but much before they could take the shape of a voice I decided to walk away.

BOOK 1: PAGE 21, PARA 2


Her touch was velvety but I felt such a profound ingress that it not only touched my neck, my lips but also a part whose utility was hitherto unheard off. There was a tumbling in my tummy. It was quiet similar to the weightlessness experienced during take-off, although it might be more appropriate to compare it with the exhilaration felt on a roller-coaster’s drop. For the first time in my life I could feel something below my belly. Even after the most vivid memories of that night have come to fade, I still recall the nose that pierced my shoulder. And I have been searching thenceforth. Most people will not tell you that a person’s prejudice towards beauty, nature or comportment has its roots firmly grounded in a surreal experience. But I will describe the seed-sowing ceremony of my fascination with noses in great detail.

BOOK1: PAGE 17


The fateful day arrived too soon. Akanksha and I had practiced the scene where Edward tries to steal the baby and is caught. He explained to Helen the reasons for his action through my monologue. I had never seen such an attendance before. All twenty five girls who play various roles in our stage production were present. Lady Penguin took a seat in the last row, with the two senior school girls on her either side. Robot’s sister was waving from the prompt box. I listened closely to the piano waiting for it to momentarily pause so that I could begin my act.

final test

Kalsh:        I come from far far… away, where no women no angels stay,

                   We did something very very wrong, whose burden I still borne,

                   A Long time ago, a mullah said we want no femme no more,

                   A lady is weak we believed and instead brave men we seeked,

                   So we torched them alive, foeticide, sent them all out of sight,

                   Only sons did we ever ask for,

                   Now in that village where I have grown, no one cuddles at night,

                   I was sent to your village, to bring back a girl like yourself,

                   I knew it all along that I had to steal from you I swear,

                   For nine months what you had to bear, I alone are to be blamed,

                   Garrotte my senses, drown my hope, take me apart piece by piece,

                   We men don’t deserve your grace, but please

                   Let me see my Angela at least,

                   That is what my last breath would pray, You, Me and My daughter Stay

There was a silence. I couldn’t see anything. My view was hazed. I rubbed my eyes but it did not help. The stage light was blinding me. I looked around for Akanksha but she was nowhere to be seen. And then I heard a voice so soft that it pierced my ears. “BRAVO!!!”

 

BOOK1: PAGE 16


Kalsh:       I have never been happier in my whole life,

                  Now there are two ladies that I can call mine,

                  Helen my soul mate bound to be my wife,

                  And Angela born from that love which is rife,

                 Angela, oh Angela my daughter Angela!

practicce on stage
practicce on stage

 

So this was the big moment. I was a dad; actually Edward my character fathered a baby girl. Beautiful like Helen, charming like Edward but at the end of the day inanimate like the toy wrapped in purple rags borne by Akanksha. While pretending that doll to be our child I encountered for the first time a curiosity to know how Helen and Edward became parents. Akanksha knew the answer but she was not too keen on disclosing it. The following week we were scheduled to practice the climax scene and Akanksha showed great faith in me just like Helen had in Edward. Her confidence gave me the strength to walk up to Lady Penguin and request a second hearing.

Kalsh: Excuse me Madam. I had a request.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: What is it? You want another holiday for your upcoming matches. Granted now go.

Kalsh: Madam I have been exercising my vocal chords and practicing on my lines.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: I told you. We have someone else reciting them for you. You just concentrate on your dance. You are doing a marvellous job my dear.

Kalsh: I know, but please just listen to me one more time. I want to portray Edward, but not with someone else speaking my lines. It feels very unnatural. I can do it, just one more chance.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: See my child somethings are best left to… (She looked into my eyes and restrained her words) I think I will have to give you another chance. Today I can see in your eyes that you are no more a forced labourer but a vigorous performer. Don’t disappoint me.

(She agreed and handed me the dialogues for next week. the climax scene.)

BOOK1: PAGE 16


Kalsh:       I have never been happier in my whole life,

                  Now there are two ladies that I can call mine,

                  Helen my soul mate bound to be my wife,

                  And Angela born from that love which is rife,

                 Angela, oh Angela my daughter Angela!

practicce on stage
practicce on stage

 

So this was the big moment. I was a dad; actually Edward my character fathered a baby girl. Beautiful like Helen, charming like Edward but at the end of the day inanimate like the toy wrapped in purple rags borne by Akanksha. While pretending that doll to be our child I encountered for the first time a curiosity to know how Helen and Edward became parents. Akanksha knew the answer but she was not too keen on disclosing it. The following week we were scheduled to practice the climax scene and Akanksha showed great faith in me just like Helen had in Edward. Her confidence gave me the strength to walk up to Lady Penguin and request a second hearing.

Kalsh: Excuse me Madam. I had a request.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: What is it? You want another holiday for your upcoming matches. Granted now go.

Kalsh: Madam I have been exercising my vocal chords and practicing on my lines.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: I told you. We have someone else reciting them for you. You just concentrate on your dance. You are doing a marvellous job my dear.

Kalsh: I know, but please just listen to me one more time. I want to portray Edward, but not with someone else speaking my lines. It feels very unnatural. I can do it, just one more chance.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: See my child somethings are best left to… (She looked into my eyes and restrained her words) I think I will have to give you another chance. Today I can see in your eyes that you are no more a forced labourer but a vigorous performer. Don’t disappoint me.

(She agreed and handed me the dialogues for next week. the climax scene.)

BOOK1: Page 12


It was the second full moon night of September in 2003, the date I am unsure of, but yet it can never be forgotten. I got a call quite late at night from my coach, Charlie Sir. He taught me everything I know on the field. Off the field our physical education teacher used to be in a continuous battle with the English language. I remember that night he was waiting at the reception. Both of us decided to go for a walk. He was threatening me in an amusing demeanour.

Charlie Sir: Kalsh I think I will have to talk to your parents, especially your mother and father.

Kalsh: But sir, I thought you personally congratulated them last month when they came for my felicitation ceremony.

Charlie Sir: This is not about praises you fool. Do you have any idea how many practice sessions you attended last month?

Kalsh: No sir!

Charlie Sir: Do you even recall that there is something called practice at quarter past five and a half? Let me tell you. (He held me by my shoulders) I don’t care if you’re the first boy in the last fifteen years to score twenty four goals in one season; or your brother was my favourite student; or the fact that you saved me from the poisonous air force in the chemistry lab; or the fact that my son is your best friend. I won’t count your blessings when I throw you out of the team.

Kalsh: But Sir… (He didn’t even care for me to complete.)

Charlie Sir: And to think that you are willing to abandon all this in order to become the first boy in the history of this school to dance in a ballet is nauseating.

Kalsh: Dance is not that bad actually.

Charlie Sir: All I am concerned about is that you attend every practice like all your teammates. Don’t expect special treatment just because you are the captain.

Kalsh: It’s just that I was really beginning to enjoy the company.

Charlie Sir: Eh… as I suspected. It’s always about girls. Let me tell you, hundreds before you have destroyed their lives for these girls. Do you want to add another name to that long list of losers?

Kalsh: No sir.

Charlie Sir: First and foremost your loyalty lies with the team, then with me, then with the school and still if any bit of self importance is left you can think about yourself. Mark my words, “A looser who runs after skimpily clad girls in tights is not my son. He is not on my team.”

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