Tuesday, August 28, 2012

asoaka unsoaked

this is my attempt at creative writing for the surf excel matic "soak no more" contest.

Asoaka was the standard clerk. His non descript middle class life flitted in the endless routine of dombivli dadar 815 fast, BEST bus to worli passport office, and then a rather brisk walk to the office at paradise towers. And contrary to his name, asoaka would end up soaked by the time he was just starting his day.
Soaked in the sweat and grime of the traffic, Soaked in the angst and desperation of the overcrowded local, Soaked in the tears and misery of mumbai, Soaked in the desperate ratrace of getting his life from the slow track to the fast track.
And when the clock struck 5, his mind would go numb. Not from the endless mind boggling numbers and emails, the constant ringing of phones, or the incessant multitasking; these things didnt bother him. Rather, he loved the busy-ness of his bussiness. But the silent anticipation of the ordeal the next couple of hours would hold always got to him. Every single day, asoaka was slated for another gruesome bout of soaking up the stains and grime of the humid mumbai.
And it didnt end when he reached his demure one room kitchen flat. Rather, the ordeal intensified.
There he prepared himself to fight. The projected image of a well groomed, well adjusted, pleasant professional is an uphill task, especially so if you are the single middle class man whose entire wardrobe can fit a single large suitcase.
Everyday, as soon as he reached home, he would jump in the shower, soak his formal shirts and only then, allow himself to sit, watch the news and have tea. Then he would get back to the grind and get done with his laundry. After that, if at all he had any energy left, he'd watch some tv, grab dinner and go to bed.
In a perfect robotic world, this routine would sound fairly reliable. But that was rarely the case. The tiresome day and the mundane loneliness of the house almost always got to him. And soaked up in the drill of his life, Asoaka often dozed off into a slumber of exhaustion.
Eventually, as the tiredness wore off, his eyes would pop open in alarm. No, it didnt bother him that he had skipped dinner. It didnt matter that the tea had spilt over and burnt. What really bothered him was that his expensive branded shirts had been soaking for hours! Each shirt was carefully picked over countless others, a perfect combination of class and style, something his south mumbai clients and corporate colleagues would look at with approval.
And he couldn't just leave it to soak, could he? The fabric would age before its time and the whole load would stink! Be it wee hours of the night or early hours of the morning, he would have to get up and finish the laundry.
And there began the vicious cycle... of missing out a nights sleep, missing his fast train, hanging on to the BEST bus door by his life, and then running his way to work, stopping briefly only look up along his office buiilding from the footpath. Here in a minute, looking up he would gather his breath, mop the sweat off his brow and head inside. The receptionists dissapproving look towards his dishevelled attire, the colleagues' taunts about always running late, an unrewarding day, a depressing week, and a additional task to finish over the weekend usually followed. Asoaka was so wrapped up in dealing with life, he kept wondering WHERE it all went wrong.
And then, one fine friday, he crumbled. He called in sick. Not because he was sick. He was just too tired. He had no will to go on. He HAD to figure this out.
He looked at the man in the mirror. A single man, touching 30, with temporal baldness and the early hint of a paunch. The reflection bore resemblance to a stressed out man who has seen better days. His attire, though neatly ironed and clean, looked dull and worn. He brainstormed, analysed, and kept moving in circles, like a man lost in the desert.
Finally, he decided to give himself a break. He strolled down to the neighbourhood shoppe. he knew he desperately needed A CHANGE. Acting on a whim, he decided to change the brand of everything he was accustomed to. The deodarant, the bathing soap, the underwear, THE WASHING POWDER. He chuckled. Lonely people find ways of amusing themselves, after all.
But it was sunday already. it was time to get back on the horse. He let water run into the bucket and rounded up all the clothes that needed a wash. Sitting on the bath stool, he looked at the blue detergent box, and let out a soft whistle. NO SOAKING? he read all the technical mumbojumbo about hydrogen bonds and vibrations and smacked himself on the head. It didnt matter to him that stains had tails and water particles vibrated. For all he cared, they could invent detergent that worked without water! what counted was this thing worked. No Soaking!
Voila! laundry done in 15 minutes.
They say that When a butterfly flaps its wings.. it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world. The butterfly of asoakas life had finally began to flap.
The next day asoaka woke up fresh, didnt miss his train, got early into the bus, and strolled into his office. His shirt crisp, his hair groomed, and a smile on his face. His day went surprisingly well. When asoaka reached finally home, he couldnt believe his day. Neither could he believe the value of a whole free hour. An hour to relax. Or grab a nap and then add lunges and pushups and whatnot. Or chat with school friends. Or forward jokes to that cute receptionist at work. The value of the hour asoaka was to discover as life went on.

An Audi pulls over at the paradise towers. The doorman jumps at the door and holds it open. A man in an expensive tailor-made suit and greying hair steps out. He looks skyward, admiring the way this building seems like a bridge from the pavement to the sky; like a man-made staircase from the earth into the heavens. His first building. The bulding he practically ran to, when he was thirty.
He would still not mind running to it, asoaka thought. Only this time, not soaked anymore in the stains, the grime, and the misery.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

October 10, 2020. Zeekyu's 6TH BIRTHDAY

ZQ, or ZeeKyu, smiled as he hit the 'broadcast' button on his Lifebook webpage.

Instantly his internet abode came alive with webcams of relatives and friends across the globe. Everyone wishing ZQ "happy birthday" in their own style using colorful fonts, tunes and tones.

ZQ clicked away a wink to daddy dearest: Zeeshan.

Zeeshan, or Zee,lovingly admiring the boyish charm his son radiated, even just on a 3d webcam. Just about then, his mom Kyunsin Ki pinged him with a kiss. ZQ blushed and smiled shyly.
Being kissed in public embarrassed ZQ lately, but he was happy. Everyone he knew had logged on, and Zee got Paradox, ZQ's favorite band, to beam a live personalized webcast on ZQ's own webpage.

As if to outdo Zee, Kyunsin had pulled off a complex code to let everyone compete in a virtual wrestling match.

The VirtuaRoom was a big din with everyone chatting up all at once.. as real a celebration of dwindling humanity as it could get. As the noise began to settle, people split up into private chats and Paradox switched to romantic melodies of the days gone by.

ZQ let out a virtual yawn, silently muttering, "nostalgia provoking romance, oldest trick in the book"
He chuckled as the comment was instantly 'liked' by 39 people.

He followed it up with "and 80% of those who liked this are single teenagers"
To no surprise, this comment was liked by another 24 people that obviously weren't single.

Paradox lined up the birthday tunes next, nodding at Zee to activate the 3D birthday cake n firecrackers.. that were, apparently 2min47sec overdue..

PRIVATE CHAT (off record)
Zeeshan (bangalore) : hey babe, how are you doing.. sexy new watch?

Kyunsin (shanghai) : sun’s always shining in some economies;) doing good mostly.. things any better at your end?

Zee: yeah, about that.. any luck gettin a job 4 your virtual husband across the border... i think i really need a to start afresh ..

Kyunsin: zee, our love is not virtual.. so stop calling yourself that! ZQ is 6 years old today, and you still have to keep bringing this up?

Zee: sweet words of you make me tingle..:*... BUT babe.. any luck on looking for a job for me? the suspense is killing me :P

Kyunsin : business always comes first uh....
honey, i'm sorry.. but i never said i could pull THAT off.. getting a job in this economy for AN IMMIGRANT is impossible.
and what the hell is this adolescent idea of "fresh start" every time after the going gets tough..

Zee: hold it right there!
you think gettin you on board for the bangalore concept last year was a walk in the park? just when I ask for a favor you wanna be a bitch

kyunsin: do NOT abuse me. 'm not a doormat. you know how the system works! gettin work from outside isnt a big deal.. gettin INTO the system.. dont even dream about it!

Zee: come on! please? YOU gotta do something for ME this time...
actually.. theres no better way of breaking this to you.. i am broke!

kyunsin: haha. AGAIN? and why am..

Z: FFS spare me a tirade.. i'm telling its not my fault... GODDAMNED E-COMMERCE.. my Payments have NOT BEEN CREDITED FOR OVER 28 MINUTES... AND....

Q: AND 'M SURE YOUVE ALREADY SPENT THE MONEY YOU DIDNT HAVE... stretching your credit beyond limit
you amaze me but still i cant say i'm surprised.. what is wrong with you?? why cant you..

Z: why cant you grow up? stick by YOUR decisions? learn business from Q THE CHINESE GENIUS???

PLEASE. STOP. LECTURING. ME!!! its NOT always MY fault, its just how I do bussiness.. please let’s just stop arguing and enjoy the party
Transfer some money to paradox and the webgenies cake shop.. I'll have it back within the hour..

Q: an hour???? are you NUTS??

Z: its just A LOAN for chrissake.. stop makin a big deal out of it!

Q: THAT pretty much sums up what your entire life, Zee: "jus money for chrissake"... but you never have any!

Z: Thats right bitch.. dont just stab me.. turn the knife about for what its worth..
lets just stick to one thing right now: Are you gonna transfer me the money?

Q: so thats how you ask favors these days, uh? abusing the hell out of a person*sniff sniff*.
this is what i get for bailing your ass out EVERYTIME??


I am here to celebrate our son’s birthday, not to take shit from you..
I JUST DONT GET IT! WHY does EVERY conversation end this way?? *begins to cry*

Z: not my fault? you always emotionally blackmailed me when it suited you.. but if i ask for help you sell me out?

Q: i cant believe YOU are the same person that said " no man is worth your tears"??

Z:oh great! pit my own words against me!
and deny me a few thousand bucks so that you can splurge on designer labels and shoes and perfumes..

cant you see i need the money.. MORE than you do? i need it for the birthday of OUR son..

Q:are you using ZQ as leverage against me spending my own money???

Z: i didnt mean it like that!! Stop manipulating my words and stop being so selfish? for once, can you think about the world beyond you and your goals?

Q: ok. you know what Zee? this is it! i am done.
i'm done with you. your family. your stupid imagination. your romance. your abuse.
you are NOT the man i fell in love with...

Z: YOU are done? when its time to take a little heat for me.. you are DONE?


why cant you just treat me as a friend and stop trying to use me?
I ‘ve always wanted the best for you. But somehow you keep failing on yourself everytime!

Z: you've lost the right to say that, Q.. just because i take risks you are afraid of doesnt make me naive..

Q: i'm AFRAID?
lemme make sure you REALLY regret this! Lets call it quits. FOR REAL.

AND this time, I am gonna make sure you don't get to make any comebacks. GO TO HELL!!!

Kyunsin Ki has invited Morpheus (Gyn-andro-fun.com) to join the conversation

(meanwhile, on ZQ's lifebook homepage)
random.guest11 : whats wrong? why did Paradox stop playing? hellooo?

Zee: hey friends...due to unforeseen problems THIS webganza's gotten botched up... REALLY sorry my bros n hoes..

ZQ e-hospitality apologizes sincerely to our patrons. Due to unforeseen difficulties, the birthday webganza is summarily cancelled.

Paradox: a conflict with the sponsors has been detected. the webcast program will auto-disable in ten seconds. Inconvenience is regretted.

WebGenie's cake shop: due to outstanding credit, the e-cake delivery is suspended. However, patrons are welcome to sample our epastries, with delightful gustatory and olfactory stimulation, by clicking on link emailed to you. HURRY! a special 20% inconvenience discount is on the offer for the first 100 orders.

IM chat : kyunsin ki, zeeshan and Morpheus

morpheus: hey love birds!! hows my number one "couples without borders"?

kyunsin: easy on the sweet-talk morph.. you trying to sell another baby to us??

zee : hey morph! thanks for turning up, though our party isnt exactly going like I planned

@zee: no problem mate.. better luck next time...
@kyunsin: hahaha! guilty as charged! so tell me, what can i DO YOU for? ;)

Q: no mood for jokes morpheus. i just wanna get out of this 6 year hellhole!!

M: hey hold your horses, girl! my job's designing.. and thats all i do!
frankly, ZQ.. with his fathers charm, and mothers brains.. is nothin short of a poster boy!

The issues you have of your 6 year old hell hole.. Thats between you two.. take em up with the man above, not ME!!!

Z:morph.. 'm sorry mate. whats she's tryin to say is Q and I are done. we broke up. n thats that.

Morpheus: whoa seriously? damn sorry to hear that mate!
are you guys are sure? its six years worth of effort, and you are lettin ONE messed up birthday party take it all away from you?

Q: its not just about the party morph. and its none of your business. Just stop tryin to pimp your wares dude.

Morpheus: zee, honestly.. how in hell do you put up with this girl?? and does she always speak for both of you.. or she lets you decide sometimes too? ;) ;)

Z: heres the thing morph.. 'm not gonna be able to fund ZQ alone.. and to think about it, 'm not too keen either.

Morpheus: well if thats what you wish for, so be it. it was nice doing business with you guys, but damn.. it never works when techie impulsive teenagers do the hiring. so long, love birds!

oops, i mean, FREE birds!

meanwhile on ZQ'S lifebook page...

ZQ simply stared at the screen in disbelief, unblinking, as everyone began to log off, some even cursing.

The Paradox and WebGenie areas, the wrestling ring all were replaced by Google advertisements..

what a crazy birthday it had been!

and a single big tear welled up in ZQ's big brown eyes..
he squeezed his eyes shut tight.. wishing all this would simply go away like a bad dream..

the big pearl sized tear slowly rolled off ZQ's cheek,


as if magically,

just when the tear drop was about to hit the floor,


In the next fleeting second, just as ZQ's face lit up in a expression of astonishment on a 6 year old's face,


or as the humans would say,

Morpheus deleted ZQ.