Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Feebler Attempt: Short Story 2


This was a poster that seemed to be following him the entire day. He had seen the first one just as he left home for work. He snickered at the brazen arrogance. His “home” was a cardboard box which seemed to have an identity crisis. The direction that his home wanted to face created a problem whenever it rained. But who was he to change the “THIS SIDE UP”. His mother had always told him that he was a “dimwit” – someone who needs to shut his mouth, and just do as the world orders. She wasn’t there anymore, but her words still were.

Now wasn’t the time to get lost in thought. Heck, he wasn’t even sure what he thought were actually “thoughts”. His mother had been sure on that count as well – no thinking. He bent down to forage the garbage and look for some bottles, paper bags, plastic, anything that would sustain his solitary meal of bread & wine. That was his “work”. He snickered again.

But the poster kept pulling his eyes and thoughts. He read it a few more times and a cheery grin appeared as the obvious irony struck him. How can a blind person read this poster?! Yuck yuck yuck. He doubled up. This laughter was so different from his usual giggling. In fact, he had forgotten to laugh for quite some time. A burn in the forearm was never the price to pay for a fun-filled, hassle-free, full-throated laugh. Oh no. Surely not. Another thing the credit of which goes to his mother. But if only his mother had seen the look on his scarred face now. Maybe, just maybe, she might not have left him in the train. Just maybe.

It always amazed him as to how he could pick up the alphabets so easily, speak so clearly, and still be tagged a retard. Maybe God had something special waiting for him. He believed in that more than anything else. Could this poster be that? Food, a roof, money…what more did he need! He could do any easy job. He had very good hearing. All looked rosy, except for the blind part. Damn! Why couldn’t have God withheld his eyes along with his brain while making him?

He was about to move on to the next bin, when a thought struck him. Talk about lightning striking the same place more than once. What if he could pretend to be blind? Who is to know? Anyway, who would bother about a could-be-blind retard? Also, if they do call his blind man’s bluff, nothing much can happen. So he scrutinized the poster more closely to find out the address. That was just a few streets away. He decided to leave right away, and begin his blind man impersonation.

It was a huge building. Not many people around. The guard at the gate signaled him to stop. He continued walking, oblivious to the check. Damn, I should have got a cane! But it was too late to think about that now. He walked awkwardly to the sound of the now shouting guard, and told him his business. The guard just asked him to walk on to the inner gate, without even as much as a cursory glance. So far so good. Same procedure at the inner gate, and from there he was escorted to a scary looking man.

He shut his eyes completely not wanting to give himself away. The man’s voice was a contrast to his huge frame.
“So, you are here for the job eh?”
“Yessir. I have very good hearing…can hear from 50 feet”.
“Once you accept this job, you will not be allowed to leave this building. But all your comforts would be taken care of. Is that fine?”
“Never mind. Let me show you your lodgi…I am sorry, how insensitive of me! Let me take you to your lodgings, and you decide for yourself”

They walked through a maze of corridors before the scary-looking man stopped in front of a door. He took his hand, and made him feel the number – 270. He then pushed open the door, and led him in.

Frankly, it was indeed a surprise how the scary-looking man did not hear the gasp that escaped his throat. This was like a palace compared to his earlier “home”. He pretended to feel the walls and the bed, and then beamed in delight, which definitely was not pretense. Not by a mile.

“Now, let me take you to your work-station. It is a simple route that we’ve designed to help you reach without any trouble”

True to his word, he led him a few hundred metres and then they reached a dark place which seemed to be filled with a thunderous roar of water. By now, he had shut his eyes completely. The attraction of his possible new home had that effect. He wanted this job badly, and was ready to keep up his pretense till he had sealed the deal.

The scary-looking, but sweet-sounding man seated him on a chair. He then made him touch a panel and a switch next to it. His job was simple. He had these headphones on, through which he had to listen keenly. When he heard some water splattering, he needed to get ready. Once it stopped, he had to just push the switch for 5 seconds and release it. Simple enough. He mastered it in a few tries. Life was going to be peaceful. Thank you god.

A few hours later, the scary-looking man was talking to his boss.
“Sir, any news on the request?”
“Nope. It has been turned down. The government thinks it would be bad PR if we converted all the video cameras to audio sensors now.”
“But sir…that technology hadn’t been tested when we installed the systems. Shouldn’t we…”
“They’ve said No. And that means no. Nothing much can be done.”
“So, any new joinees?”
“Yes sir, one a few hours back.”
“Has he been…”
“I was hoping to delay it…you know…if the audio sensors can be installed…maybe…we don’t have to…”
“That’s out of the question now. I can empathise, but that’s life. And business. Things might have been different if we had managed to acquire discarded microphones, instead of web-cameras. But you got to take what you get. Just cop it.”
“So…do I?”
“We cannot afford to be lax. Not once.”

An hour later, the scary-looking man takes out the screwdriver, gouges both the eyes of the vagabond of 270, cauterizes him, and grants him a week of bed rest. A week later, inmate at 270 is all set to perform his duties at the workstation room.

These were the workstations which controlled all the “automatic” loos across the town.

Author's Note: This is not inspired from any tale. If you think it is so, please tell me. I shall file a lawsuit against them.



At 6:05 PM, Blogger Rajneesh said...

I'm never entering a business venture with you.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger J said...

LoL @ Rajneesh... yeah, me too!!!

At 10:49 PM, Blogger eV said...

Damn you, Chilli! Nowadays when I take a leak at aapis, I think of you :)

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

Rajjo & J:
You are falling into the trap of "like book, like author".
Or are you? Hehe.

I guess you meant the story.
And that, my friend, is the first sign of success for my story. :D
I have achieved what I set out to do, atleast for one reader.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger eV said...

Hmmm. So that is your mission - To make people think of you when they relieve themselves.
And you're proud of that as well! You are one weird Godman!

At 12:33 AM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

No, that was the mission of this story - to make people wonder when they go to the loo.

Obviously my next attempt should elicit different responses. I hope!


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