wrote a novel, it’s here.
edit: There are other formats if you prefer: PDF, ePub, mobi
I learnt about Nanowrimo in 2010 and had told many friends since then that I wanted to participate (you know who you are). But november, the usual month for Nanowrimo, is a bad time for me in terms of deadlines. I couldn’t ever bring myself to write the necessary 50,000 words. This year though, they had CampNanowrimo in July: a low anxiety Nanowrimo where you could choose your word limit. I decided to take the plunge with a modest goal of 10,000 words.
The idea for Mornings in Bangalore had been brewing in my mind for a while. I wanted to describe Bangalore, and I wanted to break a certain stereotype, which would hopefully be obvious to you a few pages into the novel. Surprisingly, and unintentionally, I actually ended up breaking through a huge stereotype of my own as well.
I didn’t end up putting in a lot of mornings, but there’s a lot of Bangalore. There are still passages in there that I absolutely hate, but I realized that at some point I have to stop editing and throw it out in the open. So there it is, my first novel. If you do manage to get through the whole thing, I’d love to get some feedback, even if you think it’s absolutely rubbish!
“ ou’re such a nice guy, thanks!”, said Divya, putting the notebook in her bag. It was his notebook, and her singing voice made him angrier. He had spent hours solving all those difficult math problems, writing all those solutions that just went into that brown bag. “I’ll return it on Wednesday morning before class, pakka!”. “Sure!”, he said, masking his irritation with a fake smile as he packed his bags. The day before, he had skipped playing the daily game of cricket in the park in front of his house, skipped his favorite show on television and ate all his meals in 5 minutes straight: all to get the homework done in time. “She must have watched all her favorite shows, talked to friends and done whatever she felt like all day yesterday”, he thought sulkily as he walked towards the school bus. And now she had the audacity to come and ask him for his homework. But he said yes! Damn, why did he say yes? He couldn’t understand it. He thought it was wrong, he wanted to say no. But then, he said yes. Yes! He felt he had made a complete fool of himself, he was in 6th grade now; “I should have learnt these things by now”, he thought to himself, in fact echoing — but without realizing — his mother’s constant complaint in those very words.
He was quieter than usual in the bus. He was thinking. He was silent all evening. He chose not to bowl during the evening cricket game, and missed quite a few catches. Before sleeping he had reached the culmination of all the thought process: “I am going to think about myself from now on. I’ll be selfish, no need to worry about others.” He wrote it down on a piece of paper so that he doesn’t forget it and then went into an uneasy sleep.
He didn’t smile at anyone in the bus next morning. He hastened his pace during lunch to grab the best seat on the table, making his best friend sit on a broken chair that was the only one left. He didn’t even notice some of his friends while on his way to the water tap: no time! Being a new person wasn’t easy.
In the afternoon, their English teacher, Mrs. Roy, who was also the school magazine supervisor called him to the staff room. He was on the editorial board of the magazine, along with another friend of his. “We’ve got a lot of entries this time and need to filter out 10”, Mrs. Roy said, as she sipped her tea. He always envied the tea teachers got in the staff room. “Why don’t the students get the tea, we pay the fees after all!”, he wondered for the millionth time. He could already imagine himself sipping a nice cup of tea in class while studying dates of dynasties no one cared about, or reading about the average temperature of a place he was never going to visit. “Rohan!”, the teacher roared. “Sorry Ma’am, I got distracted”, he said blushing. “Boys at your age always seem to do, except Vaibhav. He is the most sincere boy in the whole school”, she quipped. Vaibhav was his co-editor standing right next to him, with a new pride in his eyes now. He was everyone’s favorite, and everyone seemed to feel compelled to reaffirm it all the time. Rohan flushed. The teacher did not pay attention, “Okay, so what I need you both to do is to select 5 articles each, edit them and give them to me by tomorrow morning 10 am, now run out of my sight!”
Rohan came back to class, but his mind was already crunching. Vaibhav had now been an editor for two years. He was popular among teachers, and always got good marks. Rohan wanted to be like him, and certainly wanted to end up in the editorial board next year. What if he finished all the 10 articles himself, and gave them to Mrs. Roy at 9:30 am tomorrow? Surely, that was the sure shot way of getting into her good books. She might wonder a little about why he did all of them, but he already had a plan. He would avoid Vaibhav’s calls all day. Then when he gave her the articles, he would tell her he couldn’t talk to Vaibhav, and just did all of them for backup. He would rank the articles so that if she wanted to take only 5, she could. He was amazed at his new found scheming, it wasn’t so hard being selfish after all! Pleased with himself, he finished school, went back home and finished all the 10 articles. The phone rang four times, but everytime it rang, he was alone at home and didn’t pick up. (this is from a time with no cell phones)
Next morning, in a stroke of good luck, he spotted Mrs. Roy passing near his class early in the day. He promptly took out the articles and gave them to her, but she was in a rush and didn’t look at them. “That’s fine”, he thought, “she’ll see my rankings at the top of each article. Worst case she would just call me to ask and I’ll explain”. He spent the rest of the morning rehearsing his story, but she didn’t call him. He was sort of relieved, he wasn’t good at lying.
During break, while he ate his lunch, Vaibhav accosted him. Rohan felt nervous, but ate lunch calmly: he had his alibi ready. “Thanks so much yaar, you’re such a nice guy!”, Vaibhav exclaimed, and gave him a big hug. “Wh…what?”, Rohan said in a choked voice as he struggled to gulp that last bit of food with an enormous pressure on his chest: Vaibhav was a strong hugger. “So I had to go to a marriage yesterday, and couldn’t finish my 5 articles. I tried calling you but couldn’t reach you. I was running late, so I told Sakshi to call you. But I got back from the party late and wasn’t able to talk to her. I didn’t know what to do…(cough)”, he said all that in one breadth. “Okay, relax, here take a sip of water”, Rohan offered him his water-bottle, he was curious now. “Thanks, so well, I thought I’ll just talk to Mrs Roy and say sorry. So I went to her today at 10. But before I could tell her anything, she told me that you had given her all the 10 articles: yours and mine!”. At that instant, Rohan realized what had happened. He didn’t know what to feel about all this. “I think you’re the most amazing guy ever. I don’t know why we never became good friends, but now we should!”, everyone gathered around as Vaibhav told the entire story passionately, at least his version of it. Rohan was stupefied, but then he saw the deep gratitude in Vaibhav’s eyes and felt the appreciation of his classmates who gathered around them now. “Being nice isn’t that bad after all”, he thought to himself. “People like you when you do nice things for them”. “What are you thinking again now? Let’s go to the canteen, I’ll buy you a chocholate”, Vaibhav pulled him out of his thoughts. “Yup, let’s go!”, Rohan packed his lunchbox and ran after him.
The next day, Divya returned his notebook, with a big coffee stain on one of the pages.
Two quatrains of standard, eight-syllable iambic tetrameter:
The sounds I hear are manifold
some new to my young ears, some old
one voice easily is heard,
amidst the cacaphony yet
a little bird in trees somewhere
now sings in sweetest voice, hear
the melody caress the wind
and break the noise with silence now.
Two quatrains of alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter:
and now inside, the sound of fan
that goes in endless rounds
and doing so it may be shows
the endless circles of life.
I tried to live without a shell
but then as Moz did say
I like himself, was bored before began
the rounds of life my own.
Two quatrains of trochaic tetrameter:
Singing shows are running ever on
with no pause except in breaks
which again will carry proudly
ads for other talent shows!
wish I knew when I was little
that talent could be found so cheap
leaving books and notes and chapters
finding talents I would choose.
I was able to make quite a bit of progress over the 10 day long trip to my village(probably because I left my laptop back home). Here’s exercise 4; I scored 78, slightly off Stephen’s 106, but respectable I guess. You get 5 points for trochaic/pyrrhic subtitution, 2 for enjambments and 2 for feminine endings. The quality of verse is quite dismal though. I took inspiration, as you’ll no doubt notice, from a tech magazine.
Google has now a car that scans the road
and makes a map of whatever it encounters
announce as if life depends on that
but remember warned you were by his highness
Facebook is causing trouble, mayhem, and
concern amidst a growing population
all passwords have been dropped by dropbox now
a massive glitch in system causes this today
studies reveal usage of web by us
inhabitants of a slow nation, still
we ask to be forgiven day and night.
Apple has got its multi touch in patent
only a matter that concerns the rich
a case that was a landmark case, was lost
by microsoft today or may be not
This is the last of lines to be composed.
Link to part 2
t was drizzling when Yash landed in Bangalore. When he left two years later, it wasn’t.
The apartment looked emptier than usual. “Are you sure you didn’t forget anything?”, she asked as she surveyed her immense collection of shoes in order to pick one. It was always a tough choice. “I don’t think so,” he paused for a second, and added, “Well if I did, you can always give it to me when we meet in a few weeks.” She turned and smiled. He smiled too. They were only going to meet once more, before parting for a long, long time. But somehow, it made this departure seem less final. “Alright, I am ready. Let’s go!” He dragged the enormous bags out of the apartment. “Last apartment hug?”, she asked teasingly after he had made the final check on the luggage. As they hugged, he felt something moist on his shoulder. He lifted her face and knew that the fact that he won’t be around anymore had hit her just now.
They were soon in the cab driving towards the airport. “I sometimes think that my life is like a movie”, she said as the cab went past a coffee house they’d spent many evenings reading together. She was past her sentimental moment.
“Really? What do you mean?”
“You know, it’s like there is always this invisible audience that I am performing for. All the little acts of life: from lifting a cup to entering an office door. I feel a need to do all of it with a certain poise as if somebody somewhere was watching every single thing. Oh, by the way, did you remember to keep your tickets? I saw them on the bookshelf.”
“Yup, I did. I think I know what you mean. And now that I think about it, I feel something like that too. Except, it’s a little different for me. For me every little moment, every little act, should fall in the proper flow of things. It’s like all of it is part of a bigger thing and should fit perfectly. I guess that bigger thing is like your movie.”
“Or like a long, well choreographed dance number.”
That thought amused her. “If they ever make a movie out of your life, it’ll have to be a musical!”
“Well, I just hope it’s full of Punjabi dance numbers!”. They looked at each other, and burst into laughter. She hated that music.
As he entered the automatic glass door that marks the final boundary between those who leave and those who stay, he looked back; she was still standing there, smiling. He found at the check-in counter that his bags were overweight and he haggled to make sure he paid the smallest price for the extra baggage: his ex-roommate had made that a habit out of him. It took 20 minutes. As he finally carried his bags to the escalator, he looked back towards the door to find her still there. He knew she would stand there till she was sure he couldn’t see her anymore. When he looked back for the final time, she was still there, smiling. It made him feel like time in this place is going to freeze, and no matter how long he was away, he would still find her at the same place, smiling, when he came back. That put his mind to peace. He found an empty seat near his departure gate and took out the novel he had been reading. “Just 50 pages left”, he thought to himself, “let’s see if I can finish this one before boarding begins.”