Choice Machine

Choice Machine

We generally meet up for smokes, after coming back home for vacations. Our first meet would be on a local hill overseeing the city, among birds, cigarette butts and dogs. I would not get scared of them as I had Vishnu beside, though he is equally scared of dogs. We were just there for each other, in our own zones of fear.

On that day, the first day of our vacations, when Vishnu was done with his college and applying for his Masters in U.S.A, I had to meet him at the same hill. My dad had taken his Bike, and I had to walk. The walk on a sunday afternoon is actually pleasant as the city would be in its afternoon nap. The walk then becomes contemplative, fueled by the desire to smoke, as well as the excitement of meeting a friend who’s completed his education and got a lot of brokerage money back from his college.

Vishnu used to stay in an apartment with a damaged electrical unit counting meter. His flat had an A.C for each room. Since the meter was damaged, the unit count would never increase much for humungous usage of A.C’s. This attracted attention when Vishnu and his flat mates were vacating the flat. Students came running to him asking him to refer them to the owners so that they could live in the flat and rip the electricity board of its money. Vishnu said this “Whoever pays me the highest brokerage money would get the flat”. He got 7,000/- from a guy, and took the next train to Hyderabad to celebrate with us. The meet on the hill was the start of that celebration.

The walk, as I remember saying is mostly pleasant if not for a turn near a big garbage dump. A family of dogs live breed and raise its count, bearing ownership of the place, overthrowing any power coming close to the sewage. People were scared to properly throw garbage into the sewage dump. They would generally scatter garbage near the vicinity of the dump, which in turn increases the size of the dump significantly day by day, until the road becomes a small part of the dump.

I was to walk near the dump today. I could see dogs chilling after their evening lunches, some lying on their stomachs, the younger ones, with a lot of adrenaline, playing around, and most of them wandering and safeguarding the dump. On Sundays, the dogs have a royal lunch of chicken bones and uncooked muttons. Today was a Sunday, and the lot with higher adrenaline were waiting for mates of opposite sex to play around or to boss over meeker beings from other humbler species like cats, rats or humans.

I was a meek human and one healthy rough looking dog spotted me. I sometimes sing to overcome the fear. I started to sing when the dog started to bark and come near me, signaling mates and displaying its dominance onto an unarmed living being. If I had a gun, things would be different. But, all the events that unfold happen because I didn’t have something that I should have had at that point of time.

It started to increase its pace when it suddenly leaped onto me, when I tried to duck unsuccessfully, falling down on my back near sewage pipes kept near the dump, probably for the construction of underground sewage lines. The dog was just about to jump on me, when everything stopped moving around me. The dog was mid air, with its saliva dripping mid air, water puddles with tadpoles remained motionless, the “paan” spit out of the man’s mouth stopped mid air, and the lovely gazes shared by a couple in love from opposite balconies too stopped mid air. This was an incredible amount of detail getting registered when I wanted to see other interesting things that stopped mid air, on the other side of my vision.

I turned my head near the sewage pipes, when my neck gave a cracking sound and locked itself. I tried to move it, but in vain. My vision was now locked into the interiors of the pipe that went 20 feet long, which seemed warped and elongated at that point. When I was slowly getting lost to that eternal length, a contraption of gear wheels and monitors came out from the inner walls of the pipe. The contraptions set itself, displaying three monitors before me.

When my gaze when to the first monitor, it switched itself on and played the series of events that unfolded a minute ago in my life, me walking, the dog spotting, the dog leaping, me falling down, and the dog leaping on me. The monitor then displayed “check the next monitor”. I shifted my gaze to the next one, where the dog leaps on me, starts mauling me, when other dogs join him. I get my pants torn, my head in a puddle, as other dogs come closer to smell me, if I am cooked enough for their dinner, when all of a sudden, a stone hits a dog and the dog yelps and runs. Other stones reach other dogs eventually, making them run hither thither. As I search for the transmitting end of the stones, I see a beautiful girl in her 20’s, with a boy cut and driving a splendor. For the first time, a splendor actually looked splendid in the company of this girl. This girl then runs towards me, lifting me as she puts me on her splendor. She drives me to her place, as I smell her hair which had this beautiful fruity fragrance, and I speculated that she just had had her bath with a fruity smelling shampoo. That smell itself was like Dettol, slowly healing my wounds, when we reached her place. She dressed my wounds, took me back to my place, smiled and asked for my number to ask me if I was feeling fine later. After a few days, I take her out to the hill, overlooking the city, as she has this faint smile on her lips. The monitor said, “Check the last monitor”.

The next monitor had the same events unfolding unto the dog leaping on me, when a idea sat in my head slowly expanding its territory as it ultimately reached the conscious information processing part of my brain. The idea was not a statement. It was a question. A profound one indeed, that being, “If all this was a dream or was it really happening?” Of course, dreams could be coherent, but this was coherent beyond its scope. When this question was getting processed in brain-time, I got a real time idea to check if it’s a dream or not. Rajnikanth in “Baba” gets a couple of mantras, and to check if they work checks it on random things like making a kite land on his lap. For that, he puts his fingers in a certain posture, like a “Yo” and chants the mantra. What could a paralyzed man like me do? So I closed my eyes and opened it to see if everything was still there. All in the midst of the video playing. When I opened my eyes again, the video that was smoothly playing in 720p, changed to 144p and got stuck. What an idea! Everything started to crumble and move around me when my neck cracked again. I was able to move it, when I saw all the contraptions of monitors and wheels closing into normalcy, with the pipe becoming a normal sewage line from an apparent choice/free-will displaying machine.

The “paan” fell on to the ground, tad poles started moving, love gazes and information got exchanged, when the dog completed its leap on me. I took a stone and smashed its head. It ran hither thither making other dogs run too. I got up to see the whole family of dogs running, when I saw the girl driving the splendor come into the street. The street was slowly being filled with the fruity fragrance as she drove past me, not realizing the magnitude of events that would have unfolded if not for my survival instincts to live had acted upon. This was the dichotomy. A potential mate for pleasures with some bruises or bites, or with no one and a perfect body. All interesting things happen to the man who takes up the wrong choices at the wrong times. Literature, Cinema, and poems come out of repentance of not taking up the right choices. I was a walking literature material. Shakespeare too wrote on tragedy, and tragedy is born out of wrong choices.

I met my friend, had a couple of cigarettes. We decided to go to a local bar, with extremely friendly waiters, and have a couple of beers before waiting to meet our working friend. I never told them about what happened to me on that afternoon. Nowadays, whenever I walk by huge pipes kept near roads, I look into to them hoping for some contraption to come out. Lizards and rats come out with their kids for their lunch. I walk away.

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