Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Like A Rolling Stone

I came home from college for the summer two weeks ago. Now when I look back at these two weeks, I feel that I did or accomplished nothing. I just woke up everyday at 11 or 12, sat down with a novel to read or listened to some music all day. It couldn't have been a worse waste of time, at least in the minds of some of the fiercest maggus of IITK. But you know listening to music isn't that vain an activity as it sounds. Music is the greatest gift that man ever gave to himself. I simply love listening to music. How can anyone possibly do without music? I cannot imagine how the world would be without music. Barely a place worth living in, I suppose. The more music you listen to, the more it grows on you. Until you just can't let go.

By the way, what is music? How is it different from sound? That is a question that you perhaps can't ever answer. You can only fool yourself with some lines of definition that some musician said. But in my opinion, you can't put into words what music is. You can only describe music through music. It is just one of those things that you have to feel when you are alone, like love. Sometimes I can't help feeling that music is similar to love. They are just different in one respect. Love is felt by two hearts at once, while music by one. But they both free your soul. Have you ever experienced something like this: you are listening to one of your favourite songs and you meet a person you dislike. In that moment, isn't it tough to hate him? Have you ever felt the way music touches you in such parts of your heart that few things can reach?

I keep pondering over these thoughts as I sail through the vast oceans of music and melody. It's nice to have a break from the hectic life in my college, and just sit down everyday, and relax. Somehow, separation from a place makes you realize new bonds in your heart to that place. It's like realizing your love for someone only when you are away from them. It's amazing how the mind makes the memory of grass greener, the memory of rain more ecstatic, the memory of sunshine more dazzling, or the memory of a friend warmer. It's beautiful to see that we look at things resting in our memory differently from things in front of us. Our memory accentuates and distorts our remembrance of events and people, especially when we recall things from a relatively distant past. Something similar is happening to me these days. The last semester at IITK seems more rosy and bright now that I'm through with it. It's like I can't believe I had so much of fun in those four months.

Another thing I find weird is that I feel more liberated now than I ever have. That's because I was on quite the opposite end of the rope not more than half a year ago. I guess it is only after I have completed a year at college that I have completely come to terms with this kind of an existence. I've come to terms with what to expect from my life now. When I went to IITK the first time about a year ago, it was completely different. I was too absorbed in an existence where my parents were always there for me. The first three months in college were my toughest in a life of 18 years. But now, I think I'm comfortable with living without my parents, although it's nice to have them around once in a while. I've made some new friends. Some really good friends. Right now I feel like a complete unknown. A person thrown into the vast ocean of life, destined to fight his battles himself. But I guess I am up for the battles. Not in an in-your-face kind of way, but in a I-don't-mind-a-fight-or-two kind of way. And if Bob Dylan had asked me, "How does it feel to be a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?", I would have said, "It feels good".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Final Kill

This is my first attempt at writing a short story. Please tell me how it is by leaving comments.
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I walked up to her. She was sitting on the edge of the sofa, sobbing and wiping tears off her face. She looked up as I approached her, and suddenly more tears welled up in her big, black eyes. I sat down beside her, and put my arm around her, trying to comfort her. I knew what it meant to lose a brother. I had lost one, in the war. He had been my hero. He had always been brave and idealistic. When he enlisted for the war, I remember I made up my mind to be a soldier myself one day. But his death in the war changed all that. I still became a soldier, but I didn't fight for my country. I fought other wars. Wars for a man who was my messiah, my God.

Now, as I sat there with her as a silent spectator to her grieving, my thoughts drifted to the events of the previous day.

As soon as I came close enough to Naresh, I kicked him in the abdomen, took out my gun and fired three shots into his chest. I looked on for a few seconds as he writhed on the floor. I bent down over him, and held his hands, and told him that I had to do this. There was that look in his eyes, a mixture of disbelief, sadness and indignation. I think he died within a minute. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it had all been the boy's fault himself. He had been foolish enough to threaten us to inform the police of our doings. The boss was very angry, and told me that I had to be the one to finish him off. I was chosen because I personally knew the boy, and he trusted me. That was the bad part. The broken trust turned the crime into a sin – the sin of betrayal. That was the kind of soldier I had become, killing weak people who trusted me for powerful people who trusted me. It sickened me. It was like a snake rising up inside me, repeatedly stabbing me with its venomous fangs, slowly turning me into a walking zombie.

And yet, I lived on. It was my love for her which kept me alive. If I didn’t have her, I would be eaten up by all the guilt and hatred boiling up inside me. I had been contemplating suicide when I met her. It was as God had sent an angel from heaven to comfort my pained soul. I stroked her hair with my hand. I knew it would take time for the grief to leave her alone, like it had with me. The pangs of pain almost came back to me even now – the pain of loosing a loved one. It was strange that I could still feel for her when I’d myself just killed an innocent man who had been a brother, a son, a friend to someone. It was one of the ironies of a hit-man’s life. You can’t kill innocent people without switching your emotions off. It is as if you take a drug to numb your heart so that it doesn’t feel a thing. But still you have friends and family who you feel for, and care for. The two-faced life disgusted me sometimes.

Suddenly, she looked into my eyes and said, ‘Why do innocent people die for no reason? What did my brother do to deserve this?’

I could do nothing but give her a helpless look. I’d never met his brother, but she had told me things about her. He had been a very good artist, a painter. He had made a very good painting of his sister which she had given to me. It still hung in my bedroom. I had a sudden urge to know more about him, to know what he was like.

‘Do you have a picture of his?’ I asked her.

She looked up at me, and gave me a strange look which I couldn’t understand. Then she opened up a drawer, fished inside, and handed me a framed photograph. I took it into my hands, and looked at the face of the young man. They say that when you are in a state of great emotion, time slows down. As I looked into that face, a thousand thoughts ran through my mind. It was as if God had conspired against me. I knew that fate had finally caught up with me, taking away my final reason of existence. The years of running away from it all had brought me to this moment, where it had finally become clear how it was supposed to have ended. All these and thousand more thoughts ran through my mind as I looked into the face of Naresh, the deceased.