S

am rubbed his forefinger against the two days old stubble and looked straight into the computer monitor. He was seated on a red plastic chair, with his left leg over its arm. Wearing only his dark navy blue shorts and a sweatshirt, he had been cooped up in his room for the past two days after Priya broke up with him. He got out only for lunches after persistent requests, calls, shouts and screams from his mom, Durga patti, ammi maami or dad. He did sneak out when he ran out of food supplies, when no one was looking. Sam looked tired, anxious and older for his eighteen years.

The music then became quiet and ghostly silent into something fragmented, resembling a resigned lonely voice

.

Priya did not message or call him in the last two days and he did not contact her either. “These mind games don’t work with me," he had announced arrogantly while chatting with @HailLiverpool aka Aditya. “She will come begging, wait and watch".

Sam was feeling anxious and impatient now.

Rather metaphorically reflecting the tension and chaos that engulfed Sam, his Ipod began “da da da", the celebrated 5th symphony of Beethoven with its iconic opening idea of fate knocking at the door. The orchestra that played the composer’s torrential rush with big pauses swallowed the room. In a quick reflex, Sam started playing the conductor with his pen as the baton and moving his head sideways rhythmically to the horns and cello playing out “da di da… da da da". The music then became quiet and ghostly silent into something fragmented, resembling a resigned lonely voice. Sam moved in tandem to the drum roll and followed the composer’s mighty fanfare of the finale.

Sam started shaking to the heroic struggle of the development section later in the finale, leading to the triumphant shouts of the trombones, “da da…da… da". Just when the music was storming towards victory, Sam was rudely distracted by his mobile phone, a call from Pooja.

“What?" he said. Pooja sensed irritation and sadness in his voice. The music was still very loud in the background.

“Hey Sam, are you okey? I have been trying to reach you for the past three days, idiot. What happened?" Pooja fired off a volley of questions.

“Ya", Sam replied in monosyllables, clearly portraying his lack of interest.

“Dude! Stop being a jerk. I heard from Aditya about what happened between you and Priya," she pushed him.

“Pooja, I am really feeling sucky now and want to be alone. Will call you later," he reasoned.

“Alright, suit yourself. Call soon," she was disappointed.

Beethoven’s symphony had concluded in the meantime and the room echoed in silence.

Sam scrolled down his contacts list in the phone. Priya’s photo in sepia and her face partially covered with a hand-made fan smiled at him next to her mobile number. His thumb hovered over her contact, but hesitated. After a mild cough that followed, he threw the phone on the bed. Sam turned rightwards towards a mirror that hung on the wall, close to a window air conditioner that had not stopped for the past 48 hours. The stubble was growing thicker and he looked closer while he scrubbed his right cheek. A pimple had broken out and he investigated it before attempting to pierce it with his nails.

Esss!" it was a prickly pain, but he continued to take a closer look in the mirror. Moving leftwards he smelled his underarm and instantaneously the eye brows moved in unison into an inverted trapezium and the two vertical lines that formed between the eye brows dangled to death at the odour. He removed his grey sweatshirt and threw it towards the bathroom. Still obsessed with seeing himself in the mirror his hands navigated over his stomach and he plucked the bulge of skin and flesh across the navel. He then cupped his crotch as if he was measuring its size and weight, while his lips smiled.

He gently fell on his chest on the floor and placed both his palms close and pushed himself up. He was very much at ease. “20, 21..25..30", he counted. His breath was slowly getting audible. “50..Phew!" he landed on his chest. Patiently he got up, led himself inside the bathroom and closed the door from behind.

The phone rang again. Sam rushed from the bath with a towel around his neck. Anxious, he ventured closer to the phone that was lying on the bed. It was not Priya. He sighed, puffed and threw the towel on the bed. A chair was close-by and he kicked one of its legs towards the computer table and sat on it in a huff.

Sam logged into his blog “Alchemical diaries" on WordPress.com.

To tell you the truth, I really don’t know what to do. But something has to be done. Someone has to do something

.

Time is up

Enough is enough. It is high time I called the bluff. Haven’t you forgotten that when I joined school in the eleventh, you would appear everywhere I went? Literally stalk me? I was always unsure about your motives. Aditya would always warn me that you were spending more time with the VBB school boys. I have never ever questioned you about that. Do you think you are the most prettiest in the world? Get this straight princess, time is up. I am going to the most prestigious college in the country. Forget India, it is top rated globally. And you have not even got admission yet. You are a loser. Have you looked at the mirror in your middle class home lately? Your dad is so poor that he rides a scooter. Who in their right mind uses a scooter these days? Only poor people do. And you are one. You are a lousy, poor bitch. The last time I kissed you; do you know how disgusting it felt? I felt sad for you. Have you even considered the kind of girls I might be studying with? Have you seen the size of their knockers? Do you know, we all use to joke that you look like a flattened tyre? And you have the nerve to run away from me? I will finish you, mind you.

Bitch. Let me tell you one more thing, all this talk every time about ‘how cute the baby is’, or ‘how musical that old man on the platform, sings’; all these are just downright hypocritical. You are a fake. You know nothing about music. Don’t you dare talk to me about music. Do you know the difference between rock and blues? Do you know that Mozart wrote his own Requiem before he died? Don’t you dare insult me by saying how a damn fool on the road knows more music than me. Have you ever thought about how these comments of yours would have hurt me?

Don’t see comedy shows. Don’t play “Demon’s souls" on PS III. Don’t socialise with Pooja. Don’t talk to Aditya. There is a limit to your restrictions. But, inspite of all your nonsense nagging and ultra-possessive behavior, I have always stood by you. And is this how you repay me? Do you know how much I struggled to get that vintage disc of Bob Dylan, and you have not listened to it even once? The day when your pup, Simba died, you know how much I cried? Not because I cared for him but I loved you and could not bear that you were in pain. I have always supported and even funded you buying art materials. And you just give up on me?

It pains so deep. It really hurts. Damn I am crying! I don’t deserve this. Why don’t you speak to me? Have I become an untouchable? I cannot be without you. You complete me. I want you.

Please baby!!

I am waiting!

The air conditioner was louder than normal, but the silence in the room was more deafening. Two bright crimson hibiscus flowers outside the window moved sideways in the breeze. The flowers still had the early morning dew on them. Nestled between bushy leaves, they touched, kissed and danced to the bouncy tunes of the monsoon winds. It seemed like they were mocking at Sam.

Sam breathed heavily. Was it anxiety, guilt, fear or feelings of rejection? He would learn from the master; experience, in time. He clicked on every picture of Priya’s photo album on Facebook. Priya had lots of pictures, but very few that included him. Pictures of her with girlfriends, parents, cousins, and lots with dogs, cats, birds, insects and even earthworms…but not even one with him. Sam grew more anxious. Did she delete all her memories and moments with him?

Sam stumbled upon a photograph of hers, which he still remembered very dearly. Priya was wearing a blue top with a green purple stole that hung between the shoulders. Her eyes were closed and she tightly held a Beagle puppy. The white, brown and black coloured dog with its large drooping ears looked innocently over her shoulder, fear and anxiety written all over his eyes. Priya’s long hair was messily tied-up, while her eyes were moist and weary.

It was 7 am on a Sunday and Sam had left early for his morning run. He had forgotten to take his mobile phone. Priya was desperately trying to reach him. “Why can’t he take the damn phone when he gets out?" Priya was irritated. She had called him 12 times already.

“Sweety, what’s up?" Sam came on the phone very casually.

“How many times have I told you to take the phone with you always? If something happens to you, what would you do? Why do you irritate me so much? Can’t you do such a simple thing?" she was spitting fire.

“Chill chill. What happened? I am sorry." Sam maintained his composure.

“Anyway, will you come with me to the quarantine centre at the airport cargo complex?" she requested in a measured tone.

“What airport? What happened? Is everyone okay at home?" he was worried.

“Everyone is fine at home. Stop asking me so many questions. I am already very late. Can you pick me up in half hour or not?" she was stern and hurried.

“Alright drama queen," Sam was amused “will pick you up at the usual spot".

Priya got in to the car and closed the door hard. “Oops, sorry sorry. Okay here is the deal. Fifty Beagle pups have been locked up at the airport cargo complex. They were imported from China by this bastard of a company for pharmaceutical testing. I got an email from Thiru uncle of the Blue Cross last night. I have not slept since then. And I have been trying to reach you since morning" she came down like a water fall.

“Ok, Priya can you breathe a little? But, what can you do?" Sam was already driving, “shouldn’t the police or some Government department be looking into these things?"

“To tell you the truth, I really don’t know what to do. But something has to be done. Someone has to do something. I will kill myself in guilt if something happened to the puppies. It just brought back memories of Simba. I don’t want to lose them Samy", Priya started crying.

Sam touched her hands and reassured, “Don’t cry baby, I am with you. The dogs will be safe".

It took a while for them to find the location and navigate to the exact spot. There was already a lot of commotion outside the entrance of the quarantine centre. Dr. Thirunavukkarasu or Thiru uncle to many animal activists, was a sixty plus gentleman and he was reading some papers nearby.

“Uncle, what is happening? Are the puppies safe?" Priya inquired.

“Hey Priya, I did not expect you at this early hour," Thiru was cheerful. “Well the rabble rousers have been creating a ‘ruckus’ as usual. But, the good news is that the company guys have buckled down. So, some ray of hope. Apparently the airlines people, who transported them from China, had no knowledge that they were meant for testing. The dogs were labelled as pets. The police and the minister have shown some extraordinary initiative and action on this. Though, I have some serious doubts about their commitment. Anyways, I have also spoken to people who have agreed to give these angels a home," and gave his toothy smile. Priya hugged him tight and was ecstatic.

The next few hours saw a lot of press, activists, airport staff and curious onlookers crowding up to the entrance of the quarantine centre, waiting for updates, making noises, and shouting angry slogans against capitalism. Police and airport cargo staff tried their best to control the crowd and keep their anger at check. A young boy made quick bucks by selling tea and hot vadas to the tired comrades.

“You know, these babies have been locked up inside the dark dungeons for more than 30 hours?" Priya held Sam’s hands tightly. They were the youngest in the motley group and they stood slightly away. Sam was confused at what was happening but tried his best to hide his anxiety.

“Here, both of you," Thiru gave them a packet of biscuits and tea. “Well looks like the boys will be out soon", and smiled while having tea.

A little while later, Priya suddenly left Sam’s hands and rushed in to the crowd. He always knew that she was braver than him. Priya was already in the thick of things. The dogs were being brought out in individual metal cages. Sam spotted Thiru in the crowd, who was stock taking the arrivals. Soon Priya was helping him handle the paper work. “Would you like to hold them dear?" Thiru asked Priya. Sam was closer by then. Thiru opened one of the cages, and a puppy with yearning eyes galloped in to her hands and she hugged him against her chest. He made squeaky noises and was shivering. Sam aimed his phone camera and clicked the scene.

“I love you." Sam wanted to hear her say. He sighed reading the description against the photo on her Facebook timeline.

“I'm done trying. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. I'll probably still text you tomorrow, but fuck you," he tweeted and shouted out, “damn, I hate you!"