Sunday, June 08, 2008

Everybody Loves a Loser

Ritwick tottered on the edge of indecision. Quite literally. The parapet was dangerously low for his height. The dormant mortar, four floors below, seemed frighteningly distant. It glistened in the summer heat like some Neolithic monster, ready to ambush him. The sun was beating its hammer on the anvil with a hitherto unknown fury. A welcome breeze had already begun to breathe its last, accentuating the apprehension in air. Months of tormenting heat had by now parched the leaves. The grass had shriveled up and turned yellow. Even the squirrels had taken refuge somewhere.

Ritwick smiled. The feeling was almost electric. Wiping his brow, he took a swig of whiskey from the improvised hip flask. The vile tasting liquid numbed his hyper active senses, bringing less important matters into focus. Fast-forward.

He realized he had been waiting for the two juniors to finish their cigarettes. He could see them sharing the joint, thinking they had already faded into oblivion, notice the smoke curling into various shapes, each distinct like the snowflakes, and then melt away. But none of this today. Ritwick shook himself out of the reverie to utter just two words. “Bloody addicts”. They had been going on, like forever, and beginning to get on his nerves now. Just when he had begun to make a move towards them, they puffed their last rings and scuttled down the stairs, not forgetting to glance sideways like terrified terriers, lest the warden catch them in the act. Ritwick smiled again, even if unwillingly. Everything was going against plans. That was surely a good sign.

The subject had received enough attention. Hadn’t it? Yes. The eddy of thoughts had made its presence known a few days ago. The pros and cones had been analyzed with clinical precision and their mortal remains dissected with a certain surgical finesse. It was nothing new. The same old monsters had reared their dormant heads. They had made him think. Again. They had made him repent. Again. Even the skeletons in his closet had jeered at him, as if they already knew what was bound to happen. He wanted to disappoint them, more than anything else. But he feared he lacked the guts and the feeling made him sick. So he took another swig to calm his demons. It seemed to be working. The voices were distant now, feeble and weak, already giving up on him. The cacophony of uncertainty had faded to give way to a morbid symphony. He relished it with a satisfaction that was almost diabolic. Peace.

It was now time to reach a decision. Should he or shouldn’t he? What was he thinking? Nonsense. This time it was not the solution that had seemed abstruse. It had dawned on him in a moment of inspiration, quite suddenly, yet failing to take him by surprise. It was its implementation. Would they react? How and why? He smiled again. He had decided he wouldn’t think about it.

Last night, she had been exceptionally beautiful and remarkable. Just like a freshly cut nail. Wispy clouds had tried to hide her from view as he lay on the grass, ruminating on his decisions. But they had only managed to accentuate his love for her. Her light was pure and virginal. She had appeared out of hiding after several days and Ritwick basked in the satisfaction of her presence. He called out to her and poured his heart out. Surprisingly, he felt light and better. He stayed back longer than usual, taking it in. He went back and slept soundly for the first time in many months.

Morning was cheerful and full of promises. For everyone. Ritwick had a promise to keep too. He smiled. The lunch he bought that afternoon ended up being left untouched. Flies had taken to the orange juice with delectable delight. Ditto for the squirrels, who had gorged on the dry chapattis. Chakram and Shlok were nonplussed. Ritwick was not one to miss his meals. On being grilled about his non existent love affairs, he had left the mess in a huff. They won’t understand. Never. Hence the terrace. Ah! Now you see.

The smell of nicotine lingered in the air. Ritwick waited for it to clear. He wanted this to be perfect in every way. The sweat made his shirt cling to his body. As he stood there, he thought about last night and pondered whether he should reconsider. But he smiled again. There would be time for contemplation. More then asked for. And more than desired. No more cogitating over a spent force.

And then, in one final act of defiance, he stepped over the parapet. As the peeling paint on the walls flew past his eyes for one last time, Ritwick sighed with eventuality. He could feel the wind pass through him, as if he were already a shadow, no more a part of the substance. He didn’t see his life flash past him. None of the montage of images and faces he had thought about just a few seconds before. He had never expected the stories to be true anyway. So he accepted this as one of the umpteen compromises in his life. All that he could think about in his final moments was the impending thud – terrifying and absolute. As the black mortar threatened to engulf him whole, Ritwick felt himself floating, leaving his body. He could see himself fall but he knew he won’t feel it. When it did happen, Ritwick smiled one last time. This would not be the end. He realized with a satisfaction that was, this time, innocent. I guess we know better.

For all I know, he would get up. Again. Entertain us in some other world. For doesn’t everyone love a loser? For doesn’t everyone like a clown? Falling over himself. Getting up again, only to falter again. Just like the starry eyed junta on the sidelines. They see their reflection in his eyes, finding acceptance not from the crowd but from the tiny little voice within. Failure, someone said, finds approval more readily than success. Maybe they loved Ritwick for being just like them. For floundering in the ocean and then finally giving up. For giving up when he should have tried. For blaming himself for faltering. For being too much like them for his own good. I guess it must be so. Don’t worry. He’ll be back. In some other life.


  1. "They see their reflection in his eyes, finding acceptance not from the crowd but from the tiny little voice within."

    Good. Ritwick, the name and the person, sound familiar.

  2. good writing good sir and you seem to be quite the pro.

    I shall take my time going through the archives and figuring out who Ritwick is...

    have tagged thee!

  3. Mister Piper: I was kindof expecting that would be the case.

    El: Be my guest. Though I must warn you. He is a bit reclusive. AND the tag shall be completed in due time.