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.

epilogue:
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
(THURSDAY 6:30 PM)

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

Sipping on a cranberry slushie, his internet abode came alive with cams of relatives and friends across the globe. Everyone was wishing him a 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.. it was as real a celebration of dwindling humanity as it could get. As the noise began to settle, he could sense people splitting up into private chats and Paradox switched to their romantic soft rock 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.

Then ZQ typed.. "so at least 24 people are gettin laid tonight".. but then backspaced it.. a birthday boy has his perks.. but you shouldnt stretch it, he thought.
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)
(THURSDAY 6:45 PM)
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 feel like a beggar to keep reminding you.. but you know how important a fresh start is for ..

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

Kyunsin : business always comes first uh....
honey, i'm sorry but the buck stops here. 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?..
besides, an adolescent impulsive man is anyday better than steel cold heartless bitch


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

Zee: well sweetie, YOU gotta do something for ME this time... theres no better day of breaking this to you.. i am broke!

kyunsin: haha. AGAIN? and why am..

Z: FFS spare me another 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?? be rude to people? learn business from you???

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.. just transfer some money to paradox and the webgenies cake shop.. 'll have it back within the hour..


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

Z: its just money for chrissakes.. stop makin such a big deal out of it!

Q: lmao.. thats sums up what your entire life is Zee "jus money for chrissakes "... but you never have any!

Z: oh yeah thats right bitch.. dont just stab me.. turn the knife about so that it keeps hurting..
lets just stick to one thing right now. Will you transfer me the money?

Q: oh so thats how you ask favors these days? by calling SOMEONE for a party and abusing the hell out of them *sniff sniff*.
this is what i get for bailing your ass out EVERYTIME??

the answer is NO ZEE! I WILL NOT LEND YOU ANY MONEY/ I WILL NOT SHARE ANY CREDIT ON YOUR BEHALF/ I WILL NOT PUT MY NECK ON THE LINE FOR GETTING YOU A JOB. FEND FOR YOURSELF YOU cheap, abusive loser of a leech!!


Z: my cheap verbal abuse and my dumb crassy ways?
emotional abuse is the way to go. Real classy!


Q: seriously zee, i am here to celebrate our son’s birthday, not to take shit from you.. does each of our conversations have to go this way?? *begins to cry*

Z: so now its my fault? first you emotionally blackmail me.. then sell me out.. and when nothin else works, you bring on the 'hydro-electric shocks'..

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..

listen to me sweetie. i need the money.. not for bikes. or cars. or pot. or holidays. i need it for the birthday of OUR son..


Q:are you trying to use ZQ as leverage against me spending my own money???

Z: goddamnit i didnt mean it like that AND YOU KNOW IT!! Stop manipulating me YOU SICK FREAK!! when will you stop being so selfish and self centered? for once, can you think about the world beyond you and your goals?

Q: you know what Z, 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?

go to hell.. I AM DONE. I AM DONE TRYING TO MAKE THIS WORK WITH YOU.


Q: *CRYING*
why cant you just treat me as a friend and stop trying to use me?
if everything you do keeps falling apart, you need to take a good look at yourself. Believe me Z, I ‘ve always wanted the best for you. But somehow you keep falling on your face 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)
THURSDAY 7:10 PM
random.guest11 : whats wrong? why did Paradox stop playin??? hellooo???

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

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE VIRTUAROOM:
ZQ e hospitality apologizes profusely to all its 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
THURSDAY 7:30 PM

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

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

Q: stfu morph. 'm in no mood for jokes. i just wanna get out of this 6 year hellhole you dug for us!!

M: hey hold your horses right there, 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, for chrissakes!
but i'm not god. and the issues you have of your 6 year old hell hole.. 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: OUCH!! seriously? damn sorry to hear that mate!
are you guys are sure about this? 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. so stop tryin to pimp your wares dude... its not gonna work.

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 yoo? ;) ;)

Z: lmao@morph.. nice try mate. '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...
THURSDAY 7:45 PM


ZQ stared at the screen, unblinking, as everyone he knew began to log off without saying a goodbye, 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 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,
and
as if magically,

just when the tear drop was about to hit the floor,
it DISSAPPEARED.


In the next fleeting second, just as ZQ's face lit up in a six year old's astonishment,
ZQ VANISHED... or as the humans would say,

Morpheus deleted ZQ.