The write club Sept 2017 magazine has a total of seven stories (we stayed more or less consistent with the count this month as well) from seven different authors. You can read the excerpt of the featured title story (and my story) in this post, and decide to buy it by clicking on the link below, or you could give it a pass 🙂
Either way, I am glad you’re reading this right now!
A Soulful of Curd Rice
~ Kartik Patiar
Statutory Warning: This may not be your conventional story – So please take it with a pinch of salt and maybe a bowl full of curd rice. Reader discretion is highly advised.
07th August 2017,
I arrived at Shanti-Sagar sharp at 7:15 PM, I knew I was a little early and so I waited for Som Uncle to turn up. He had called me earlier today evening at around five and had wanted to meet me right after office got over. He mentioned that it was something urgent, that through his research he had stumbled upon the one solution to solve all problems.
Half of whatever he told me over the phone, flew right over my head, partially because I was pre-occupied with work and partially because I was continuously checking to see if Mr. Sharma had left or not. You see, Mr Sharma is the boss – and unofficially, no one is allowed to leave the office till the boss has left the building. With the reminder of the limited mind space I had, I was conversing with Som Uncle.
“Haan Haan, don’t worry Som Uncle I will be there sharp at 7:30 PM” I remember those being the last few words before I hung up.
And here I was, killing time in Shanti Sagar, waiting for Som Uncle to show up and enlighten me, with god knows what kind of wisdom he suddenly uncovered. It was a great evening and a cool gentle breeze graced the city of Bangalore that day. I fancied myself, sitting in a five star restaurant with Seema (the girl I fancy) – Wow! This could have been a perfect date night occasion. Yet, here I was, all alone in Shanti Sagar waiting for the last 20 minutes for Som Uncle to show up. What a wasted chance!
As I was lost in thought, ruing the lost chance with Seema, the waiter came in my direction. He checked his watch, looked up at me and as he neared me, he called out. “Saar…Rahul aaa?”
“What?” I said
“Sir, You… Rahul aa?” he enquired again
Now, I love the way most Bangalore auto drivers, shopkeepers and bus conductors can convert any god damn statement in English into a question simply with ending it with “…aaaa?”
So “Rahul..aaa?” automatically becomes “Are you Rahul?”
So easy, so effective, so convenirnt and so efficient, one does not have to think of qualifiers, adjectives, verbs, adverbs or any other mumbo jumbo you were taught in English Grammar class. Just say “….aaa” and it becomes a question.
“Yes I am Rahul” I told him, now slightly confused. I didn’t know how he knew my name. I know that many top end lounges, clubs and restaurants go out of their way with Customer Relationships, they remember even the smallest details about you like – your name, your date of birth or anniversary and sometimes even your entire purchase history, but I was never ever…like even in my wildest dream…expecting a waiter at Shanti Sagar to know me by name. I wasn’t even that frequent a customer and I could swear I had never seen that waiter before.
“But how do you know my name?” I asked him – just like a legit question is supposed to be asked.
“Som Uncle” he said and smiled.
As he grinned I observed one of his canines was chipped and that made his smile look a little bit wicked. As soon as he took Som Uncle’s name and with that kind of ominous grin, I started growing suspicious. ‘My god’, my mind raced, ‘It is already nearing 7:40 PM and Som Uncle is not yet here. Som Uncle never comes late. Like ever! Especially not if he has called you to meet him. Had this waiter kidnapped him?’ Random thoughts crossed my mind. As my expressions started reflecting my thoughts, the waiter decided it was time to stop grinning.
He pulled out an envelope from his soiled shirt pocket and placed it on the empty table right in front of me.
‘Oh Damn! Is it a ransom note?’ My mind refused to leave the kidnapping theory that it had just strung together. But it just didn’t make sense, why would the kidnapper openly confront me, would he not call me from some unknown, untraceable number instead? And moreover, who kidnaps someone from Shanti Sagar. I mean there is so much more potential in… maybe a Starbucks kidnapping instead.
As the waiter quickly retreated back to the safety of the counter where he was before, I began studying the envelope in front of me. On it in bold was written my name “To: Rahul….From: Som Uncle”
‘Ok, so I thought to myself….Som Uncle has left me a note. But why would he do that? He was supposed to meet me here. God I hope he is safe.’ I prayed.
I tore open the sealed envelope and extracted the contents of it. I carefully unfolded the letter that lay inside and I began to read what looked like Som Uncle’s hand written notes to me. So here goes:
Please See: The contents of this letter are for your eyes only. This is supremely critical and important. Please ensure this information does not fall into the wrong hands.
Let me get started, as you already know I have been busy over the last few weeks and here are my findings:
In my experience, there are three kinds of people on this earth – The ones who love curd rice, the ones who hate curd rice and the third kind – The ones who were absolutely abhor and detest curd rice because they were forced into eating it every single day of their childhood.
Now… when I embarked on this special journey about studying people and researching their curd rice eating habits – I was fairly certain (at least wi
th an 87.3% confidence) that I would eventually come up with three classes of people. Well, as luck would have it – I did actually end up with three classes of people – The
ones I just mentioned above. It is the observations and insights that caught me off guard about the types of classifications I would make of these people.
The initial hypothesis was that I would end up with –
(A) The Type of people who love Curd Rice
(B) The type of people who hate Curd Rice and
(C) The type of
people who are indifferent to curd rice…..
Pretty straightforward huh?….That does not need much R&D or insights right? But that’s not how the curd rice eating world works.
About the author: An E-commerce Marketing professional, Kartik Patiar also happens to be an avid reader, traveler, adventure enthusiast and an arm chair thought experimenter. He is extremely passionate about reading and writing about subjects that stimulate his mind.
Goodbye & All That Stuff
I am shoving her suitcase in the car trunk and then shoving it further down, between her other bags, is when she says, “What are you doing? Be Gentle! This one is fragile.”
“Yeah?” I say, “I am sorry madam, I am not your Cabin Crew. So put a fucking sticker on this thing, that says it’s fragile and make it bold.”
“I have put a sticker on it. And it is bold. Can you not see it?”
“Nope! I can’t. Make it more bolder. I don’t think anyone with normal eyesight can see it.”
“There is no such thing as “more bolder”,” she corrects me, making air quotes, with her delicate pink fingers.
“Well, there is now,” I say, “more bolder, more boldest, boldestest, more boldestest. I will say whatever I want to say. And I am sorry again, English is not my first language. Neither am I moving to an English country. For me, more bolder means, more bolder. Something I can read or see from ten meters away. And oh … boulder also means something I want people to get smeared by, when they annoy me. You get it? So put a bigger goddamn sticker on this thing and make it more bolder!”
“I am sure you can read it from far. That is, if only you are willing to,” she frowns.
“I am sorry for the third time today, I can’t read or write things. I am stupid. Okay?”
She breathes deeply, looks away for a brief moment and then looks back at me, flaring her nose and flexing her jaws.
“Really, Sam? Like, you want to do this right now? Aren’t you done fighting? This is like the hundredth time in last one week.”
“Wow! Someone is keeping a count.”
“That’s because, someone is a jerk,” she whispers to herself, and walks inside the house, dumping a leather duffle bag in the back seat of the car.
“You know what? I heard that!”
“Congratulations! At least one of your senses are working fine.”
“Oh! Fuck off, please.”
“In an hour, I will … maybe forever,” she slams the door behind her.
I stand next to the car, with hands on my hips, staring at the chalky windshield and both its wipers covered in pigeon shit. And up on the roof of the car, a pigeon is fidgeting with dust spots with his beak, and bobbing his head on melodies that only birds can hear. His feathers are soiled, and from the corners of his tiny-tiny eyes, he sees me seeing him. I appreciate him for being here with me. He is happy and calm, but most importantly, he is not flying to a different place. Even though he could – free of cost! This Pigeon is a star!
Why can’t she be like this pigeon? Why does she have to be either a raging monk or an ugly bitch face? Why there is no in-between?
A voice from within, that I am way too familiar with, shoots up to my head and whispers, “Stop it! You know it’s you. It’s always you. She’s more of a gentleman than you are. She has the calmness and patience of a bomb squad. You on the other hand, look like you are always in a moshpit of a metal concert, elbowing the person behind you, screaming, “Hell yeahhh!!!”, or whatever the fuck they yell in those moshpits.”
And while I am having a moment with myself, she storms out of the house, with bags hanging on her both shoulders and a bunch of stuff in her hands. The tiny human inside my head, wants to criticize her and her possessions in a very Carlinesque way. She has more luggage labeled as “stuff”, than what should be called as “stuff”. And all her “stuff”, come with her other “stuff”. Because she buys “stuff”, and doesn’t throw them away. Then she buys more “stuff” to match the “stuff” that she has bought before. So there are twice as many and as much “stuff” with her than there should have been in the first place.
She stands and stares at me helplessly, with the innocence of a four year old.
“What?” I say.
“What, what?” she shrugs, “help me with these.” She points at all her “stuff”.
I almost snatch the bag out of her hands, and stuff all her “stuff”, with her other “stuff”. Fuck it! It’s all stuffed now.
“Careful!” She is annoyed.
“Why?” I yell, “Is this fragile too?”
“No, but that’s not how it’s done.”
“Don’t teach me how it’s done. Okay?” I say, unlocking the front door of the car, “I have helped you pack everything. Without me, you would have carried all your shoes in thousand different brown bags. Not everything is grocery, sweetheart. You understand?”
To my surprise, this time, she doesn’t retort. She walks to the other side of the car, and sits on the passenger seat, tying her hair in a fat bun. In my mind, there could be two possible reasons behind this sort of passive behavior. One, she doesn’t want to piss me off further at this tensed juncture. Two, I am right and she doesn’t have any counter points to make. But perhaps, it’s none of those two reasons. Perhaps, she doesn’t want to fight or argue out of pity. But that doesn’t qualify in top ten of my self-absorbed reasons.
I drive her to the airport. During most of the ride, she is busy on her phone. Texting, smiling, breathing.
It has started to drizzle outside. The windshield isn’t chalky anymore. I have powered on the wipers. The pigeon shit has cascaded down to the hoods, and then onto the header and nose panels of the car in a white distorted line. This is quite a long ride in normal conditions, but throw in some busy hours, and a rainy day on top of it, and you are stuck in a traffic that doesn’t clear for aeons.
“Who are you texting?” I ask.
“My colleague, Sumit.”
“The one with the nerd glasses and bird nest on top of his head?”
“Yes, that one.”
My annoyance is always reflected in my loud pitched angry rant for hours, or it is compressed in small packages of minimal responses. She is quite aware of both these sides.
“Why?” She stares at me in confusion and anticipation.
“Why did you ask?”
“Because –” I turn the steering a full circle at a U-turn, “I assume, he is also going with you to New York. Isn’t he?”
“No, he is not.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive!” She scoffs at me, “You wanna talk to him?”
“No. Why would I talk to him? More like, why would he talk to me, when he has got you to talk to twenty four by seven.”
“What nonsense, Sam?”
I am relieved hearing what she has told me just now. I never liked that nerdy scumbag. He is too touchy-feely, and is surprisingly not gay at the same time. Although, he always acts like one. You invite him to your house for a get-together, and he would go through your girlfriend’s wardrobe and give her fashion tips. Your girlfriend thinks he is sweet, but you know she is naïve. The guy doesn’t want her to get new pair of pants. He just wants to get in one of them. And of course, if you bring that up at a dinner conversation with her, you are automatically insecure and jealous. Which you might be, but how come you are not allowed to say what you feel?
As I am drifting away in the black hole of insecurities and future uncertainties, she says, “Listen –”
“Did I tell you, the other girl’s project confirmation did not come through –” she pauses and then with a hesitant voice, announces the worst news ever, “So, I will be sharing my apartment with Nicholas. I have no choice now, but to stay with him.”
“Oh wow!” I am not so relieved anymore. “No you did not. But then, why would you? Right? If you would have told me earlier, I would have suggested an alternate way out. But you tell me at the end moment, so I have no choice but to agree with what you say. Classic move! How big is your fucking flat, anyway?”
“It’s not like that, you know? I got the clear picture this morning, but we were fighting so much, I couldn’t tell you any sooner. I am sorry.”
“Bullshit! How big is your flat?”
“It’s one room, Sam. I have told you earlier. It is just one room and a hall and an open kitchen. This is the best we could do with the shoe-string company budget that is allotted for accommodation. New York is expensive, you know that. Right? Besides, the company doesn’t see unisex apartment as a problem, like you do.”
“Great!” I deride. “So now it’s just you and a gorgeous guy with eight packs, sleeping next to you for more than a year. What could possibly go wrong? And you’re right, since when did corporates start to give a fuck about infidelity?”
“Come on, Sam! He will sleep in the hall, on a couch or something. Plus, he has a girlfriend.”
“Yeah, but he also has a penis and the genes of a French guy. You know?”
“He is actually from Cyprus.”
She is back to texting and smiling. I, on the other hand, am fuming. I honk for no reason at a biker.
About the Author: Well, that would be me 🙂. And you’re reading this on my blog. So …
About Write Club Bangalore: It’s a weekly meetup group of writers, that’s been consistently running for past 7 years.
Every week we assemble at 2 in the afternoon and write on a prompt given to us by the host. Then we read (out loud) whatever we have managed to write, one by one, and the host, or the other members of the club, tell us how good or bad the pieces are.
Post the writing session, we have coffee at a close by restaurant and we often debate (and/or joke) about everything under the sun. The waiters at the restaurant probably hate us, because we are usually very loud. But then it’s a lot of fun. I mean, I could go on and on about the group, but I can’t put it in words. Why don’t you check out the official website instead?