Delusions In The Rain

The wind is howling outside, shaking the windows of my house as the rain continues to pound like artillery shells without any break. It is like this city is being eaten by a giant water monster and everything is submerging in it’s belly. In hindsight, global warming is indeed the water monster.

Windows & doors remain tightly shut as they continue to vibrate and make repeated sounds of banging against the walls. Shortly after I read a text circulating on Whatsapp that electricity will be cut from the source, the lights go off. It gets dark and it seems like each house is a separate island cut off from each other.

Each island is cemented in its place away until the wind will tear it apart and break it into pieces.

I sigh & get up from my couch. I have to cut vegetables for my salad. It is a part of this new diet I have been doing. I have been fairly regular so far, although it has only been a week. In this one week itself I have strayed a few times but it has largely been in check. Straying a bit from the diet is better than not having one at all.

I open the fridge and its coolness brushes my face. I take a tomato, cucumber & carrot from the fridge and put them on the kitchen counter. I turn around to the counter behind me and take the knife out of the rack where the utensils are kept. I turn back to see somebody’s head in place of the tomato.

I close my eyes. Whose head is it?

The hair on the head was uncombed and the face was smashed & bloody. It looked like it had no skull but just skin sewn in place to form the shape of an ill-formed, ugly-looking face. Blood was slowly sliding down from its temples and forehead while it’s eyes remained tightly shut.

It looked disgusting. But whose head is it?

It looked familiar, and yet I could not place a name against it.

How long have my eyes been shut?

What time is it? It should be around 2 pm right now.

I am hungry.

I open my eyes slowly to see the cucumber, tomato and the carrot next to each other on the kitchen counter. I take them one by one and start chopping and dicing it. I start with the cucumber, cutting it into circular shapes with the knife.

Suddenly the knife looks threatening in my hand.

I check the time. It is 1 pm.

I am off by one hour. My reliable sense of time has eluded me today.

I start chopping the tomato and sense somebody’s hands wrapping mine slowly. The skin of the hands is soft and delicate and envelopes my hands in warmth.

They are a woman’s hands with nicely- trimmed nails & no nail-polish. I can see the transparency of her nails and the white skin under it.

I like that, no nail-polish.

I stop chopping the tomato & turn around to look at her directly. She is completely naked and the flesh of her dusky skin is within my reach. I hold her waist from my right hand & feel her skin. It feels real. I look deep into her brown eyes as they curiously gaze back at me. My eyes wander down to my hand on her waist and fire seems to be emanating from it.

My palm is burning but I feel no sensation and the skin on my right palm looks like the burnt end of a cigarette. The shit of nicotine & tar.

The disgusting anti-smoking ad plays in my mind. I imagine a piece of foam being squeezed with soft hands and the dark grey colored-tar oozing out of it and filling a glass jar kept beneath to the brim.

I close my eyes again.


I open them and there is no naked woman in front of me. Am I imagining all this?

I am a little disappointed but I smell something burning. I bring my palm to my face and the pink flesh of my skin is in place. I look at the gas with the pan on top of it containing cooked vegetables inside.

I open the lid of the pan in which the maid was cooking the vegetables. Smoke escapes and lands right on my spectacles making the glasses moist and everything around me is out of focus. The mist clears and I can see the dark, burnt vegetables sitting in the pan.

The maid must have forgotten to turn the gas off. Who forgets something like that? But she is not like that. She is very careful about things.

But there is no other reasonable explanation. Maybe she is having an off day. I mean, even this city is having an off day today. It has stranded and disappointed its citizens.

I wonder what the city would say if it had a voice right now. Maybe it would flood its citizens so that it is left alone. I wonder if that is what the city is doing right now. I mix all the cut vegetables in a bowl & add some salt & pepper to it. I think of the cut pieces of vegetables wading their way through the bowl in the muck of the mustard sauce I add on top of it.

I toss the salad in a bowl and walk into the living room to see three people sitting on the couch looking at me as if they have been waiting too long. A woman in her mid-30s and two identical young boys who seem to be 8-year olds. All three of them are wet and the water is dripping from their bodies and clothes on to the floor. Water slowly fills up the living room and is heading towards me like an army of small water soldiers.

The cool water touches my feet and I wriggle my toes. I am standing in my place and can’t even think of moving as the water passes under and around the soles of my feet to take over the kitchen and the bedroom. I want to close my eyes but I can’t anymore. I wish to see this through.

I wish to see what happens next and to find out what this all means and where I am.

Curiosity killed the cat, didn’t it.

But my eyes remain open and I see the people sitting on the couch. Curious, darting eyes of the the boys were piercing right through my body making my blood cold. I could feel my body revolting to the sight of the boys but my heart was filling up with warmth.

The woman is sitting cross-legged and her hair is disheveled and wet. Her clothes are torn around her waist revealing her dusky and slightly burnt skin. The light blue top she is wearing is wet and has black marks all over it as if she has escaped a fire.

I lift my hand up to feel the skin on my face. I feel stitches covering my entire face. The stitches complete a roughly drawn circle as they go from my forehead to the temples down to the chin and back up to the forehead from the other side. I am completely dry except for the slight trickle of blood around the stitches.

My face is kept in place with stitches and suddenly I feel the skin of my face slipping down as one by one each stitch is slowly undone. I imagine my head twirling in the air as my vision gets blurry. I fall on the wet floor and see those six sets of eyes looking straight at me.

My eyes shut.


Delusions In The Rain

Snippets From My Formal Education

I started writing this post just after my graduation two years back but left it mid-way for other things. When our class picture came up on my Facebook Memories, I thought it was time to publish this.

On a warm evening as I was listening to the Chief Guest deliver his speech, I drifted off in my own world as I had done so countless number of times before in classes. Thankfully, nobody cared anymore so I was not thrown out. Though technically speaking, I was getting my degree so they were…throwing me out.

Wearing our new traditional graduation attire (even if we were sweating like pigs)- a red robe (reflecting the new branding of our Institute), black cap and a stole and drifting in and out of the present moment with absolutely no intention of listening to the speaker, I ended my formal education.

Like father, like son

It was a fine moment only to be ruined by nostalgia. I hate being nostalgic about anything but sitting there, I could not help but look back at those moments in my formal education that led me to where I am today.

How the hell did I land up here?

The only thing that I remember about my schooling before moving to a boarding school is me miming as Charlie Chaplin in 3rd std and winning the third prize for it. What else do you do as kids in school?

After that my parents sent me to a boarding school in Mt. Abu, the only hill station in Rajasthan.

Secluded among the hills from where you could see the Indo-Pak border, this was the place where I was to grow up. Generally boys used to be in Sophia till 3rd std & then moved to St. Mary’s from 4th std onwards till 10th.

It was the same for me, almost.

In the entrance exam for Sophia, I saw the division sign for the first time ever and ended up subtracting the numbers thinking that the two dots above and below were a printing error.

In the St. Mary’s entrance exam, there was a question wherein I was asked to give meanings of some words. I did not know what the word meaning meant & ended up making sentences of those words.

Needless to say, I could not get through either of those schools. My parents wrote a few letters to the Principal and a student dropped out from St. Mary’s and that is when I got in. Till date, I cannot fathom the impact it would have had on my life had I not gotten through. Now I am one of the best in Maths and am a voracious reader and writer as well.

This was also the first & the last entrance exam I would screw up…ever.

The seven years in the boarding school passed by slowloly. That place laid the foundation for what I am today. So please…all blame should be diverted there. 😛

It taught me to fend off on my own, excel in academics (because you were beaten if you did not), use sarcasm to deal with bullies (just pisses them off more 😀 ) and deal with racism (because trust Rajputs to be full of themselves, although now I can say this for any race), successfully read novels during “study time” (this has been SO helpful) and fight my own battles.

Like every Indian student, I was told by my parents that I could do whatever I wanted…and be a doctor or an engineer. My dad is a doctor, so I chose engineering.

It wouldn’t matter.

I packed my bags and left for Kota. You know…that arid city on the banks of river Chambal where toppers (most of them anyway) from each and every school in India gather to take a shot at the coveted JEE and the medical entrance exams. There were also those who attempted it again and again and again and again and again until the JEE had to come out with a rule saying that you CAN’T give the exam more than twice.

This was also the time when I was most disciplined. At an age when we should be exploring ourselves (no, I don’t mean masturbating) I ended up exploring Physics, Chemistry and Maths. It was also the time when I did not read any books and my friends give me a “What the fuck!” look when I told them I had not joined Orkut yet.

Who knew that in a few years nobody will be on Orkut anyway.

Thankfully, I did not need two attempts. A useless rank in the JEE (AIR 5529) followed by an awesome rank in AIEEE (AIR 2619) and I heaved a sigh of relief. I ended up getting into one of the top computer engineering institutes in the country & soon moved to Hyderabad.

I met some really smart and amazing people while I was there and most of them have remained friends till date. It was also the time when I really gave my life some serious thought & where it was headed.

As I stepped back to get a bigger picture, I realized that I did not want to spend my life writing lines and lines of code that would amount to performing certain mathematical functions. It seemed too technical and suffocating.

That was the time when I took the reigns of my life in my own hands & took one of the toughest decisions I would ever take.

I traded a fine engineering college with a perfect placement record in some very well-known companies for a Bachelor’s in Mass Media from a college with no placements at all but well-known in this field…at least in Mumbai.

My family thought I had lost it. My Dad got me to take a test which determines which field is best for you. I got a science-related field. But it did not occur to the examiner and my Dad that even History or Sociology are sciences. My uncle came all the way to our house to put some sense into my head.

“I don’t know much about the field you have chosen, but its not right.” he said.

That was like saying you don’t like chicken without ever tasting it.

My mom, the melodramatic one, had tears.

Either way, I moved ahead and this is when I focused on things beyond the classroom. The rote learning made no sense anymore and I got more active in writing, theater, film-making and got to know some really talented people. Somehow, writing stuck with me and now it has become a very important facet of my personality.

I started reading a lot of books as well and even now I get excited every time I open a new book. It is like opening a door to a different world.

Rashmi Bansal’s Stay Hungry Stay Foolish inspired me to give MBA a serious thought. But I also did not want to be stuck in a bored-to-death job selling soaps & toothpaste. My idealism and optimism would not allow for that.

When in college, I had pitched a comic to newspapers (but I could not find anyone to sketch it), had worked on a shitty TV show as a writer (for 2 episodes) and knew that the business of story-telling is what interested me. The management side made more sense as you could climb higher faster, have more stability & writing would always be there with me if I wanted to take it up later.

My parents were quite happy when they came to know that I had decided to do an MBA. It was like a middle-class-parent-fantasy come true for them. So I gave the CAT exam & some others as well, but I was very clear in my head where I wanted to go.

As I looked back on all this it struck me that the Chief Guest had been speaking for a very long time now (my Dad said the same thing later). But in that time I also realized how my formal education had taken me places and aided my informal education as well.

While the formal education had ended two years ago, the informal one had gained pace.


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Snippets From My Formal Education

What I talk about when I talk about suicide

His clothes are spread everywhere in his room. They are scattered on the bean bag, spread on the table and the chair. The room reeks of weed and tobacco and the faint yellow light is just not enough to make him open his eyes and see the pit he has dug for himself.

Tove Lo is playing in the background. He likes Tove Lo; her music reminds him of the days he spent in Florida. 

The smoke in the room is enough to choke someone to death. He lights another joint, opens his window, throws the clothes from the bean bag to the chair and sits in the balcony. He looks out at the windows in people’s homes in his society. 

Some have curtains pulled over while in some the lights are still on. He lives on the sixth floor and the balcony has a railing. It’s not high enough to not make him climb on top of it and jump.

He looks down but takes a step back. He has always been afraid of heights. It makes him dizzy and he gets a weird feeling in his stomach. It reminds him of the time he went for a trek and was looking down a cliff. He stepped back instantly then too.

Can he jump? Yes.

Should he jump? No. 

But, why not? 

Is there something to live for? After all, what difference is he making in anybody’s life? 

Sure, people will notice. They will talk. But then, what else. 

Whats a life worth really? 

He could just think of one reason to not jump. That is, what if he didn’t die?

What if he broke his back or his legs or hurt his head? 

What sort of a life would that be? The life of a cripple and of relying on somebody else. 

Oh well, tomorrow is another day. A new day and a new beginning. Maybe he will be able to see the pit he has dug for himself and climb out of it. 

Maybe. Sometimes, maybes are all you need.

He takes another step back and goes back inside. He drinks some water, takes his pillow and blanket and sleeps in the living room.

What I talk about when I talk about suicide