Glaring Shadow - A stream of consciousness novel (Part 8, page 1 of 4)


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Part 8

Pangs of Remorse

“Every life is unique but rarely one is exceptional,” he continued after a long pause as if he was reminiscing about his own life, “and mine was rather unusual; oh, I had my first brush with intrigue when I was in class seven, then aged ten. Chandu and I were classmates besides being neighbors for our families were co-tenants. All children in our neighborhood used to flock to his place to play caroms on holidays and his mother was wont to serve us some snack or the other. Well I used to avoid those for they were invariably prepared with garlic that I had always found repugnant.”

“Isn’t it said that one either loves garlic or hates it?”

“There was a king in the Roman era who hated garlic so much so that he had banned it in his land. He could as well be the progenitor of our present-day rulers who ban smoking in all and sundry areas dubbed public places,” he said. “Can you imagine us smoking in the cinema halls in our youth, why, the norm in those days was ‘smoking is no disrespect’, and now the coinage is ‘desist passive smoking’, my foot, as if the air we breathe is pristine pure. That the addicts no longer smoke in the railway coaches is because of the changed social mores and not owing to a newfound urge to obey the railway rules. Oh, how the poor smokers quarantine themselves in the toilets for a puff or two while the police on scent wait on the sly to harass them for bribe. Before I gave up smoking, what a pain it was in the smokeless pangs on the flights and in the trains alike.”

“The fate of a nation is the plight of its politics and the petty politician is the bane of the polity.”

“Beautifully put, for the fate of the peoples is governed by the whims of the powerful,” he said, and resumed the saga of his childhood. “One Sunday afternoon, as was her wont, Chandu’s mother served us all with some pakodas, and Shankar, younger brother of my friend Murali, wanted more of them. I felt that it was inappropriate and said so to him; looking back, it was an unsolicited advice, all childish, but then a child would only think like a child.”

“Don’t we see even the grown-ups rendering unsolicited advice till the end, and more so towards their end? Maybe fate maps the course of life through an intellectual short-route from the cradle to the grave.”

“How do you like the Aviva ads of Rahul Dravid receiving cricketing advice from all and sundry,” he said heartily. “Well with his captaincy gone, the ads were withdrawn and that’s the way with the frills of life with which we tend to shroud its ethical core. But now, shorn of my aura, I see my life in the glaring shadow of its falsehood, and what I see but the derivatives of life within its voidness.”

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