Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My attempt at very very short story writing

The movie playing, inside the city's largest theater, was nearing climax. The protagonist and the villain were engaged in confrontation. People were cheering the protagonist. Suddenly a loud sound of explosion came from the front. The cinema stopped. Momentary silence descended on the cinema hall. Then came the cries and yells from the crowd. Panic engulfed everywhere. Bodies of the dead seemed like islands amidst the blood strewn all around. Ram, a doctor, felt that he would be of help to the injured. He asked his wife to go back home. She, though not in a mood to leave him behind, respected Ram's decision and decided to leave. There was commotion near the exit. There were people shouting at each other. It was a mad scramble to save one's own life. Amidst the chaos, tragedy struck again. Another explosion near the exit. More blood, more bodies and more mayhem. Anxious about his beloved, Ram, caught in the midst of bruised and critically ill, could not help but rush to the door . To his unimaginable horror, he realised that terror had ended his thirty day old marriage life. The magnitude of the cataclysm was so huge that it transcended every form of expression of pain. Movies end. But here, not just the movie, the life of his love too came to an end.
Dreams of a beautiful life to be lived were shattered by those who had death in their minds.

It was post-terror-attack-morning, as usual, the next day. Newspapers, politicians, 'intellectuals' condemned the attacks as ever. They, as is the tradition, asked everyone to maintain communal harmony. Police was under pressure to nab the terrorists. Next day they released computer generated images of the suspected terrorists Nadim and Salim. The faces were shockingly familiar to Suhas, Ram's friend. Feigning themselves as engineering students, they had deceived Suhas to rent his house to them. He immediately called Ram and told him about this. Off they rushed to the police station. Suhas told whatever he knew about them to the police.

A fortnight passed. The two terrorists were caught. Sufficient evidence surfaced against the suspects. Their links with terror organizations, their radical leanings, and their elaborate plan of attack were thoroughly brought out through investigation by the police.

The pace with which the police moved in this case rattled the media. 'Police torturing innocent students' screamed the newspapers and television news channels. There were protest rallies led by human rights activist Ms. Ratnakar. Though sparsely attended, these rallies were described by the media as huge. 'Is our police justified in harassing minorities under the pretense of fighting terror?' asked Mr. Desai, a leading television news anchor, in a tone so shrill that it would have put off the bats in the vicinity that night. Watching this, an otherwise calm person, Ram burst out angrily. In his rage he smashed his television. Suhas, who was then beside Ram, was moved by this magnitude of helplessness of a terror victim. Suhas' eyes went moist, but the moisture glistened in the ray of determination that became visible in his eyes. He made up his mind to organise people and stage a counter protest rally. People came in large numbers. Media condemned it as interference in the 'due course of law'.

But the wheels of justice moved forward unperturbed. The case moved to the courts. The prosecution argued their case diligently. Soon the judgment day arrived. "The two men, Nadim and Salim have been found guilty....This court sentences them to death", came the pronouncement of the judge. Joy that justice had been done, intensely macabre memories of that fateful day and the resulting anger against the murderers filled Ram's mind. Little did he know that the battle was far from over.

The case moved on to the higher court. Verdict remained the same there too. Finally to the supreme court, where too the death sentence was upheld.

'Justice has been unfair', came the media's foul cry. 'Mercy by the President is the only way to soothe assuaged feelings', wrote Ms. Ratnakar in a leading daily. She again hit the road. Violence was manufactured to show, 'the sense of hurt, that was inflicted in the name of religion'. Trivial electoral considerations forced the Government to falter. The convicted terrorists were pardoned.

'Nadim and Salim vindicated', screamed the news channels. Ram, watching this, boiled with anger. The other day there was no expression that could express his pain, today there was no expression that could express his rage, his disgust, his helplessness, his sense of having been denied justice. Memories of his wife swelled up in his mind. He could not save her then from the jaws of death. Now he was unable to see justice done to those who took her life. In his pathos, unable to compose himself, he ended his life.

Few months passed. Another terror strike. This time its prey was the country's home minister. The investigation was high-profile. 'Police arrest Nadim and Salim - main accused in Home Minister's assassination' - read the headlines few days later.

[Due thanks to Guru Anandh for helping me edit this 'story'.]

Friday, January 18, 2008

Weakest Prime Minister Is Leader Of The Year

Awards are subjective. But the choice of the jury has to be reasonable. It need not be the perfect choice because there can be no such thing as the perfect choice. But when the award is bestowed on a person who in no way deserves it, the award and the award-presenters become nothing more than a bad joke. Such was the fate of the NDTV Leader of the Year award and NDTV when they said Manmohan Singh was their choice for the Leader Of the Year.

Since the time our weakest Prime Minister Dr. Singh took over, he has hardly come to be seen as a leader not just by the people but even by his own partymen and allies. Time and again they have undermined him and his office. A very senior Congress leader Natwar Singh openly mocked at how Dr. Singh has set a world record by being the only PM who has not been elected. Remember, Dr. Singh has never won a Lok Sabha election. How many times Arjun Singh - the 'secular', 'progressive' education minister - has eroded Prime Minster's authority is best left uncounted. At the very beginning of this farcical coalition in power, there was public humiliation of Dr. Singh by Karunanidhi when he used his numerical strength in the Government to overturn the decision of the cabinet regarding disinvestment of Neyveli Lignite Corporation. Dr. Singh blindly accepted it as 'coalition dharma' without a word of protest. In 2007 alone, when he secretly tried to seal a deal with US, the Left threatened to pull down his Government. Singh considered this deal as a very personal 'achievement'. He and his party said that those who oppose the deal are 'anti-development'. He even dared the left to pull down the Government. But later, he was snubbed by his own partymen and allies on this issue when the Left became serious about withdrawing support. Left had its way. Though the PM's credibility was severely dented, he shamelessly carried on.

Rahul Gandhi ordered him to extend the rural employment guarantee scheme to all districts. It was the Prime Minister's office which had earlier decided against this move since there were problems in its implementation. But when Rahul says our PM has to agree. The PM meekly bowed to Rahul's orders. How subservient a Prime Minister he is to the Gandhis is very evident by the way our weak Prime Minster walks, sits, talks and conducts himself when he is beside Sonia Gandhi. It's a disgrace to even talk about.

When such a person is honoured as the Leader Of the Year, one can only laugh at the awardee, awarder and those who glorify such awards. It's just another credibility blow to channels like NDTV who are yet to recover from the shock of Gujarat. By the way, there was one more leader in 2007 who won an election based on his strong leadership, his Government's performance, his integrity. And that too a re-election. He too was, and is, an Indian. He lives somewhere in Ahmedabad.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cricket 2008

Well, cricket has truly turned a new corner this new year. Gone are the days when players were at the mercy of players. Even now they are, but atleast players of one team - team Australia, are not. Infact they are not at anyone's mercy, not even the match referee or the ICC.

This's a small but significant development. Australian players are so powerful that they just need to lodge a complaint against an opposition player they are not comfortable playing against. The complaint can be anything. Let me illustrate a possible complaint. 'Player A of a non-Australian team f***** up his(A's) wife'. The ICC will soon call an emergency meeting of the Protection-From-Sexual-Abuse-And-Prevention-Of-AIDS-In-Cricket committee. Andrew Symonds, the complainant, shall offer to be the voyeuristic witness. Voyeurism pales into insignificance in front of the game. 'Game is bigger than voyeurism', said the great Australian cricketer-turned-philosopher David Ross. As a celebration of this noble thought Australian media shall hail Andrew Symonds as 'the unassuming, selfless, daring hero who uncharted delicate and private territories to save the game from going down a lusty perverted intellectual drain'. Whatever that means! And the ICC will ban the cricketer A from the game and also sperate the couple if possible.

In this way they can 'remove' key opposition players. Others can be eliminated in a simpler way with the help of umpires-who-save-the-game-by-submitting themselves-to-Australian-divinity. These umpires apply the simple thumb rule, 'There is no bowler in the world who can dismiss an Aussie batsman before he scores a 100. There is no non-Aussie batsman who can score half century'.

By committing themselves to these noble game-saving measures, Australia can proudly say, 'We play the game in the right spirit'.