Colourcode (short story)
The door opened suddenly and a tall teenager came out. Since he was hiding a bottle of beer behind him, instantly Raju knew that the boy was under eighteen and that he could end up in trouble. Inside the shed there were two girls and two boys sitting against the wall. Where was Ann Marie? They all stared. Raju had already started to turn away when the boy took him by the collar and dragged him into the shed. A week before two teenagers had killed an east European sticking a screwdriver into his head. It was still in the news. Raju dashed for the door…
This is a true story. Or at least part of a true story, that part which is relevant to the name colour code. Raju will be part of the story until his part in the story fails to break in and reveal what this story is all about. After all, this is a story to decide whether it is Raju or the story which is important. Back home when a friend asked him what was the Irish like Raju blinked. That was when he decided to give it a go, concocted to spin a story around him and live a character.
Before Raju could reach the door, the tall boy caught him; Raju covered his head and cried aloud for help. The other two boys were laughing and the girls had begun to get concerned. The tall boy threw Raju to the ground and yelled “shut up”
“Leave him alone”, said the girls “What is wrong with you”
But the tall boy had assumed the roll of the villain by himself while the other two stood by slightly embarrassed.
-You bloody peeping tom, said the villain
-Ann Marie is a friend of mine, said Raju getting up from the floor
-Ann Marie, your friend Ann Marie
-Ann Marie? Who the hell is Ann Marie?
-I saw her car outside, and heard her cry. That is why I came inside
-What are you talking about?
Raju couldn’t believe the story would take such a turn. He tried hard to remember some dialogues which would make them teenagers think for a while, think anything other than a screwdriver. But all that would come to his mind is the board about chopping boards
‘White for diary, brown for veg, green for salad, red for meat, blue for fish’ said the board about chopping boards . Colours and codes always made an impression on Raju. If white could think and black wore instincts what would brown do? Red meat, yellow cheese, white bread, green salad…
Raju works in a nursing home kitchen. The story started to include Raju in its plot that morning, or it is better said Raju pushed in, and even took control of it for some time. The reason why he ended up among beer drinking teenagers that evening is not the plot alone. Early that morning he had perfect control over the storyline and directed scenes as he wished.
The dialogues came from Maggie the chef as usual. As a person Maggie the chef was all too kind and considerate that even the tiniest trace of racial shades she flaunted pricked. But it was all part of the story
“Well Raj do you have Christmas in India” said her
Maggie the chef was too fat to move and so talked a lot. Asked questions but never waited for answers and thus preserved her ignorance so that she could always keep asking questions. Just like any country Irish granny. Just like any country Indian lad Raju talked less and moved more to compensate. At that equilibrium where egocentricity met altruism they seem happy, at least for the sake of the story. Maggie was colour blind. Quite the right person for this story.
‘About 50 years ago in the part of India I come from we had macro families and every member had a place in the hierarchy. Raju said, just to try a dialogue.
Maggie looked at him long and turned her hip to move away as though she was insulted
“Where is my place” Raju asked the board about chopping boards. A place to deploy from is very important for any character especially if he has plans to invade.
Maggie moved away and lingered around the oven. To retaliate Raju’s talking she wanted to ask him to clean it. But as she couldn’t articulate it in a question form eloquent enough to match his she headed off into the break room
Jesus these people carry their ego in the most unlikely of places, thought Raju like they think here in the west, defining every twitch of a muscle with a name and place.
Since Raju came to Ireland he had been stopped several times by his sensibility not to relate yet. Then after a year he found himself still sitting out of the story. The day Raju decided to break in nothing stopped and Raju failed his part. Unless the axis slants and he sees on par how will he do his scenes. Story happened beside him. Whenever he thought he climbed in and fixed a horizontal axis to roll on somewhere he was ditched
‘Are you alright Raj” said the girl I always cautiously kept to the margins of my story lest she infect the structure. I couldn’t just find room for her noise. Her name was Ann Marie. She was so good natured and pleasant a person Raju found it often hard to determine whether her xenophilia exuded from her benevolence or her benevolence was a result of her consumption of difference. It’s all too complicated to describe a simple child like eighteen-year-old girl. But Raju followed a way of life where simplicity was discouraged as boring. In his world things attained a complexity by ruthless scrutiny. Now, the most boring being the most good one could almost say that given a chance Raju could had have played a charming hero with that touch of evil.
The little parts Raju played were confined in the kitchen setting for Raju never knew how the story went about outside the kitchen. Since the day Raju met Maggie out in the supermarket queue once, he had been cautious of meeting characters outside the nursing home mes en scene. At the supermarket queue When Maggie’s colour-blind attention failed to detect his uneven tone even after all the movement Raju did right in front of her Raju decided to shout and make the story turn and take notice.
“Maggie” he called her name.
She flinched, then turned to wish, and fled, story on the trail. Raju blushed and steered sideways to a wordless plot stuck in between easy cook rice packets. He felt ashamed of his skin. After all the questions and answers, moving and talking, how could she be so blind, he was dark enough not to be missed in daylight and fair enough to stand out from his shadow and so cannot be invisible even in a black and white world.
At the breakfast table when everybody went out for a smoke Maggie had to talk to Raju. Prudently she jumped in with comments rather than questions
-Nice weather Raj
-Like the Irish
-Ha ha ha I know what you mean
-There is more to it than what it means
-Oh yaa, I know. I know you are well educated and all
-Nobility is a cast Maggie, if you are not born into it, it is real hard to work you way into -it
-You are talking weird today Raj
-I am only trying some dialogues
-There is a story going on
-Oh yaa. I know, yaa. God at least you are talking today
Contents of self respect have too long a past to discuss. We are many in this world and we live in each other. It is only in a matter of degree that we differ, not kind. We contain all colours, Raju wanted to say. It could have made good dialogue. But Maggie was not worth it. She finished her yogurt and sat staring out of the window to avoid looking bored
-I have to get out as I can’t break in, said Raju.
-Are you trying dialogues again Raj,
-Have you heard of Samuel Becket?
-Who is he?
I stopped it there.
It all could had have ended elsewhere if Maggie had known Samuel Becket.
If you could imagine Maggie talking about Samuel Becket I would reckon you understand why I am trying to push my words to evolve in you, so that you take part in my effort
But Maggie did not know Samuel Becket. Let us …
“Are you alright Raj”? Said Ann Marie. I have bound Ann Marie to this question for the most part of the story because if she is allowed to speak more I know she would never stop and I would end up with a mono act play instead of a story.
“Ann Marie, do you know Samuel Becket” said Raju
“Of course Raj, we had to study his short story, or drama I can’t remember, awful isn’t he. My god I could not understand a thing. And they say that is the idea behind his writing. Not to make people understand. And he got Nobel Prize for that…. Oh my god I had the weirdest dream last night. When I opened the fridge all those people started to come out of the fridge, like the one I had about that airplane that day…
I have to get out as I can’t break in. Besides Ann Marie is not going to stop.
That evening after he left work Raju took a detour which was out of the plot. A detour which helped him to break out of his imagination and see for real what it is like to be in a story with someone else controlling it. Along a lonely country Irish narrow road out of an impulse to investigate, his car glided. It might seem he acted out of some secret news he got. But in fact he does not know why he took that detour to this day. The road felt warm and his car swung around curves, he was almost laughing when suddenly he had a feeling he passed something he was used to. He couldn’t tell what. He turned the car around and drove back to find Ann Marie’s car parked on the side of the road. He stopped in front of Ann Marie’s car, there was somebody leaning on the Car smoking. Raju got out and saw that it was Brian, a care staff at the nursing home.
-Hello what are you doing here… said him and walked away to attend to a phone call on his mobile, then came back still talking on the phone, got in Ann Marie’s car and drove off saying bye to Raju with a raised hand. That was when he heard the cry from inside the shed. It was Ann Marie’s. Raju can still swear on it. These incidents may look a bit strained to get Raju to the Shed scene we started out with in this part of the story. But believe me these were those rare incidents in one’s life where the real felt so fictitious, that its memory often confuses Raju regarding the point whether he left real behind and entered the fictitious or parted with his imagination to face real. Raju’s first instinct was to run away from the scene. But then that impulse which made him take the detour that evening took him towards the cry.
-You don’t know Ann Marie? Asked Raju with disbelief
There was silence for a moment
-Bloody trying to make up stories, said the villain -nobody knows any Ann Marie here
-I am sorry then I was mistaken, I am going
-No you are not going anywhere
-Leave him alone, said the girls
Raju tried to walk outside
But the villain dragged him to the floor, Raju tried again frantically and the villain became more forceful and stuck Raju’s face in the mud on the floor.
-Rony, Have you gone mad. The girls stood up,
-we are going. The girls left
The other two boys tried to pull the villain away from Raju, but he resisted
-I will tell the police said Raju suddenly
As an answer to that Raju received a neat punch on his nose
-Please don’t hit me, said Raju getting up -I am sorry, I did not mean that about the police. Please let me go
The other two boys moved out too
-You are not going anywhere. The boy seemed to be getting ready for a fight
He pressed Raju to the wall tight; Raju shut his eyes when another punch landed on his face making his lips bleed.
The boy stepped back to kick Raju in the stomach. Raju fell on the floor with a groan
-Get up, the boy ordered. When Raju did not move the boy kicked him again in the stomach. Raju stood up coughing. The boy stepped back preparing to kick again but then stopped when he found Raju staring
-What the f–k are you looking at?
When Raju did not answer but kept staring the boy lost his interest in practicing his kicks
-I say what the f–k do you want, stop staring mother f–ker” said him,
Okay… go, he commanded
Raju did not move
-I say go.
Raju stepped away from the wall and walked towards the door, the boy went and sat on a piece of log and lighted a cigarette.
-I am sorry, said the boy, but you should not peep you know
-Okay, said Raju turning to acknowledge it
-People don’t like it, said the boy
-Okay, I am sorry, Said Raju and started walking again. Before opening the door he turned to look at the boy
-What? asked the boy
-Do you know Samuel Becket?
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