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.

Engineering Accidents

Plane wingThe plane was going down. The angle made a few passengers to strap themselves in. It was not because the flight was landing, destinaiton was hours away. It was not because the pilot was almost dead, there was something wrong with the flight which made it go down and also made the pilot hit his head hard, when he was holding both hands to his chest in pain. The co-pilot was flying it alone, he did not hesitate to check a guide in the open as the pilot won’t see it now. The pilot was unconscious. The co-pilot did not know what was wrong, but he knew what could be. He knew that it could be solved if a person with good knowledge on aeronautics and flight, got ten minutes in the room below his feet. The room with wires and switches.

The problem, and the way to fix it was told to the air-hostess. Sandhya was the cutest air-hostess on earth. Her mother said it, she almost believed it. That was the reason she walked with so much confidence. Dusky, not so short, the perfect lip gloss from her sister, and she liked her uniform. Confidence radiated, so people whom she spoke to replied with clarity even in the crisis. They knew death was waiting but they spoke well.

People were asked questions. The pilot could be treated, but could not be made fit enough to take up the stick again. She found two doctors from the passengers’ list, and they went to work on the pilot. The doctors did not hesitate, ‘let him at least die treated, die healthy’ they thought in sync. So they worked hard, sweat more in work than in fear. Extreme risky measures were taken in the heart operation, and the pilot could now talk in vowels and he was also accepting the fate. The pilot even joked about the situation which the spectators found incomprehensible and very funny. They laughed their hearts out.

The air-hostess also found a pilot trainee. He was taken to the cockpit. He reminded the co-pilot of his wife, when the trainee picked his nose. They worked hard in the cockpit, the trainee was intelligent and calm. There was no interview when he walked in. He sat in the co-pilot’s seat and the co-pilot in the pilot’s. The pilot had requested his headphones to talk with the co-pilot. So the acting pilot also heard the joke, he understood it and laughed artificially. He was also getting there, the region of acceptance. Sandhya had no time to visit the cockpit. He did not need confidence, he had something much better.

Yesterday, his wife had called him intelligent. His daughter wanted to make wax dolls, she was heating paraffin over pan. It got to flames, they poured water, turned off the stove. Nothing stopped the flame. The co-pilot put a lid over it and explained, all that need to be done was to cut oxygen. There he was called intelligent. Morning the wife kissed him bye, and called him a clever husband.

That thought flooded in, he heard his wife’s voice ‘intelligent’ ‘clever’. Too much happiness to handle, the muscles could not help but curve the lips to a permanent smile. That was enough for him to think clear. Also he had the trainee who reminded him of his sweet wife. He did not need Sandhya to walk past or talk confident, like the passengers had needed. He and the trainee found a way to delay the death. The flight was now straight. But there was leaking fuel and no communication. Not a good situation, but death was as far as it was sure. Two hours was good time bought for an almost nose down flight.
Two hours to death. Everyone knew.

It was clearly party time. A couple kissed in front of everyone. They did not even hold hands in the flight till then. A stand-up comedian, whom Sandhya and an old man recognized was requested to perform and he did. A bartender from the list, and all the alcohol and juice from the pantry and the cargo, it became a legit party. The smuggler did not take out the cocaine out of his tummy, he felt that god won’t accept him into heaven if he helped in intoxication, a sin, before death. But Sandhya called him, he was astonished how an air-hostess found what the army of security at the airport missed. He forgot he was a psychology student. He was asked to talk with the children. He accepted to do it, god is going to love him. Doors to heaven inside the man’s head opened wide open when the kids were made to stand around him with ice cream cones in hand.

Every professional, or pursuer of profession had work. They were the best on earth for the couple of hours.
He was watching it all. He was an Aeronautical engineer, the kind which deals with flights and rooms inside flights with wires and switches. He felt guilty for not volunteering to help. Half hour since the technical failure. He had not spoken a word. He had the only unhappy, painful heart in the flight. He overheard the co-pilot talk with the pilot trainee after the flight was put to autopilot and they joined the party. All that needed to be done was to have an appropriate engineer in the room for ten minutes. After that the flight can be made to land in the nearest airport.
His guilt, engineering college ID card and doubt was killing him. The former two teamed up and so he called Sandhya. He was about to accept that he was an engineering final year student. He was ready to take up the responsibility, to try fix the plane. She walked to him, smiling. To the student it looked like she knew what he was about to declare.

“Yes, I know. We have an hour now. I do not want to risk making it short giving you the room.” she said. So she really knew.

It hurt, but did not hurt his ego. He had company of millions. Students who don’t exactly know what they study. His feelings showed on his face. Now Sandhya was hurt.

“Are you single? Men’s college right?” she looked at the ID card which he had waved to call her.
He had replied positive, and also added he had always been.

“I love you. I mean it. You did not fight, but accepted the ignorance, and let people live. I am your girlfriend. If we survive, I will marry you in two years.” She patted him and walked away to the children. There were no parachutes, they were all damaged at the beginning of the problem. Also he cannot just try fix two for a marriage.

It was enough, dying with his love. Which was the initial concern when the problem was announced, dying single. She had been loving and caring. The beautiful glances she gave was enough to prove it. He also began to smile. He plugged in earphones and created a romantic playlist and listened to it. The first playlist on his mobile. He was happy.

Only regret, he was an engineering student. He could have helped in some way had he studied something else, or just gave up the idea of education in an institution after school.

When it was one hour fifty minutes since the announcement, Sandhya sat beside him and held his hands for twenty days. The first eleven minutes of the twenty days they were alive.


  1. It is not easy to become a doctor. Requires too much marks in schools and lot of money. So the number is less and most of them are good.
  2. Most other professions do not need the kind of dexterity and precision.
  3. An engineer needs the above and more, but there are too many engineers to trust one (many do not trust themselves), especially a student. Not all engineering students become engineers. Actually very less do. Most work in IT, sales, marketing, media and arts.
  4. Everyone knows this but few realize it at the right time.
  5. Take right choices and prevent accidents.