Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How To Direct Download Torrents, As Of 2015 (19-2000 GB)

Hi guys, Parthasarathi here, with another enlightening post. In my post about the VPN TunnelBear, I said that I would do a post on how to direct download torrents. Well, here are three methods that you can use.

1. Premium Download Speed, Upto 19 GB File Size

I hit upon this method after months of frustrated downloads using third-party filehosting sites. Turns out, there is a site that converts your torrent file to a direct download link, provided it is less than 19 GB. It then uploads your link to either Uptobox (with free premium link generator) or 1fichier. If this weren't enough, consider this: there is virtually no speed capping or download limits, or even fixed bandwidth. The site, funnily enough, has a pretty obvious name, Torrent2DDL. So first of all, I'm gonna show you how to download from http://torrent2ddl.com.

Step 1: Create an account on the site, and then login, as shown below:

Step 2: Get a magnet link from a torrent site.
Step 3: Paste it in Torrent2DDL, choosing Uptobox as the PLG.


Step 4: Wait for your torrent to debrid, and you're all set!

When you hit the download button, you will be redirected an Uptobox page that says that there is currently a happy hour going on, so you can download unlimited premium. That there is here to stay, and you can now copy the generated download link and paste it into your preferred download accelerator.


2. Movies and Music Only

Another great service you can use is http://hive.im, a self-proclaimed unlimited cloud storage that allows you to download movies and music with a catch: without a premium account you are limited to 50 gb of inbound transfers (although you can download as much as you want) per month, and it is a generally suckish feature of even premium accounts that you can't download a torrent with batches of videos, for example an entire season of your favourite sitcom. However, you can leech full music albums, so that is always a plus point. Unlike Torrent2DDL, Hive does not allow you to download all the files in a torrent as a zip or rar file. Sign up with Facebook, go to your Media Stream, and enjoy. Another discouraging thing about Hive is the capped download speeds, but I haven't had problems in general with it in college. I downloaded 4.7 gb file in 2 hours 40 minutes, which says much, because my college did not have good download speeds, at least not on my floor.

3. Pretty Much Anything You Want, Cloud Storage Extendable Upto 5 TB

This is by far the best method to download torrents, because the native download manager acts both as a file leeching service, and as a de-facto bittorrent client (in that it provides resumability, and you can switch off your computer without any worries and resume the download just as you would with a bittorrent client). The service that we will be using is Baidu Yun. There is a somewhat outdated tutorial on http://currentmattersplus.blogspot.in/2014/07/baidu-yun-baidu-cloud-tutorial-i.html, on how to create an account, and how to download files, but there is one difference: now, SMS verification is also compulsory, and you will be prompted to enter your mobile number after you click the email verification link. You'll see a dropdown menu with numbers, beginning with 00. That's your country code, and the 00 is interchangeable with +. For example, India is 0091, or +91. Select your country code, enter your number, click the button just below, wait for the SMS to arrive, and enter your the verification code before the timeout. Hit the button below that field, and you're done for the time being. You now have 2 gb of free cloud storage! To extend the storage to 2 TB, download and install the Android or iOS app, login using it, and you're done! Please note that this automatically sync your phone's camera photos with your Baidu Yun cloud storage. To extend the storage further to 5 TB, buy a premium subscription! I tried Baidu after people suggested using one of Tencent's services, about whose status as free, premium or freemium, I'm not so sure. Oh, and here's a screenshot of a (torrent) file downloading in Baidu Yun:




If you minimise the window, you will still see a small bar indicating the download status, in your browser, or on your desktop. 


Well, that's it for now. Toodle-oo peeps! Be sure to leave your love in the comments below! Share this post with any friends in need of a torrent download solution, either because of blocked ports, or DMCA complaints. Signing off!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Exclusive Interview On Smashwords

Hi readers. As y'all know, I'm trying to break into the commercial scene with my books. With that in mind, I gave a small interview on Smashwords. I'll post a link to it here at the end of the post, but you can read it here too. So here it is:
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I prefer reading, listening to music, sipping mostly black or green tea, or trying to get that peace and quiet which is so hard to come by in my house (sic).

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I use a service called BookBub. Moreover, I have a lot of friends who are bookworms, and I'm still part of my old college's Literary Club's WhatsApp group, so I get suggestions from there. I also try to Google books on specific subjects, or related to a previous work of fiction. For example, after reading Dan Brown's 'Inferno', I immediately downloaded Dante Alighieri's 'The Divine Comedy'. I also try to indulge my more unusual or cruder interests such as historical studies of bestiality, hacking, seasteading, hydroponic gardening, etc., and I actively seek out books on the same.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Now that's a tricky one, as unofficially I started writing when I was just a kid. Those were silly stories, really. No plot development, no coherence of language, nothing. Just wild imagination. The earliest I remember writing is a story called Sobosome, whose name I later gave to a trilogy of not-for-sale, just-for-fun short books, two of which I've already written.

What is your writing process?
Step 1: Think of an idea
Step 2: Actually start typing it, no matter how messy it is.
Step 3: Edit as you write. Avoid repetition. Try to occasionally use fancy words that actually match the situation.
Step 4: Save your work
Step 5: Constantly revise what you've written, unless it's something you're uploading to Wattpad.
Step 6: Skip this step if you're publishing to Wattpad. If you're now done with the first draft, go ahead and edit it. Then read the second draft, and make necessary corrections.
Step 7: Publish your work.
Writing is a sporadic, continuous and erratic process, really. One moment you know volumes about what you're gonna write, the next moment you have writer's block and have no clue what to write next.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, I remember very well, although the story concerned wasn't the first I read. I had already seen the first movie based on the prequel, so I decided to go ahead and read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets first, reserving The Philosopher's Stone for later. I was awestruck by the simplicity and the wonder it incited in me. It was then that I decided that I would also some day write my own book.

How do you approach cover design?
Not really my department, Simon.

What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, because of all the action and Voldemort's return.
2. Breaking Dawn. Vladimir and Stefan are so damn badass :)
3. Inferno by Dan Brown. It just completely blew me away.
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because there are many memories (some very unpleasant) associated with it.
5. The Inimitable Jeeves. PG Wodehouse. Need I say any more?

What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly fantasy or supernatural lore, sometimes science fiction or nonfiction (give me any book by Richard Dawkins and I'll give you a hug :* )

What is your e-reading device of choice?
Hands down the Kobo Aura. Or the Kobo Aura H2O, which I haven't used as of yet. Although it's not as fancy as the Kindle, and the dictionary doesn't respond well to PDFs and MOBI files, it runs circles around the Kindle due to its greater social reading features, reading incentives, support for comic books, and expandable memory.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Haven't used any as of yet, but social media is the most important, according to me.

Describe your desk
Messy. No other word for it.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in London, Japan and conservative India. This gave me a taste of the good and openminded life and how much it was lacking in the small town in India that I grew up in. I was exposed to atheism here in India, and my writing reflects my proclivity for freethought, atheism, and sometimes (unfortunately) outright blasphemy.

When did you first start writing?
When did the clock start ticking?

What's the story behind your latest book?
It follows the amazing, wondrous life of Dr. Arjun Singh, who is basically a better version of me, from his early days in his second year of college, to his journeys across the globe, to his residence on a seastead, and his space colonisation. It combines elements of atheism, sci-fi, seasteading, space travel, biology, and rocket science among others. If you're a thinking person who can keep up with someone whose temperament is that of a nutty professor, and you don't mind a little crude language, I have a feeling that you'll enjoy my book.

What motivated you to become an indie author?
The time I would have to waste by using conventional publishing platforms. Plus, everyone's reading eBooks these days, and reading on an eInk device is especially a good practice.

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'm yet to see it.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The escape from reality. When you're writing a book, you're writing as the character, you're walking into their shoes, seeing the world as they see it, feeling what they feel. It's like a pleasant dream that you never want to end.

What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. A writer is nothing without his readers, and my fans (or those who have said that I write well, so far) have continually motivated me to give my all to writing.

What are you working on next?
A love story between two best friends, Numaa (a Muslim girl), and Ishaan (a Hindu, Bengali guy). It's called Numaa-Ish.

Who are your favorite authors?
JK Rowling, Dan Brown, PG Wodehouse, Chetan Bhagat, Roald Dahl, and Enid Blyton

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
To tell the truth, I'd rather STAY in bed, thank you very much.
Do you have any other questions you would like me to answer? Post them in the comments below, and I'll answer them on my interview page.

Read the interview on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/CharioteerMode142
Check out my Smashwords profile: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CharioteerMode142
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BACVelocifaptor 
Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Deejay.Death.Spider

Find me on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/PskDaCharioteer

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Students' Special! Amity Special! Digimon Special! Bypass Web Filtering And View Blocked Content (Such As Geo-Restricted Videos)

Hey guys, so here I am, your blogger mate Charioteer Mode, and I have some really great news for those who're restricted from watching videos or accessing content that is not generally available in your region. For example, you might be living in India and trying to access CBS videos (say, episodes of The Big Bang Theory), or you might just be living anywhere in the world, and you're pissed off by the fact that you can't access some of your favourite anime or anime events on Crunchyroll or Nicovideo. This is especially true for those people who can't access Hola Unblocker or get it to work for some reason. This article will also be helpful for those of you who live in the hostel campus of a university that actively throttles connections and blocks almost all forms of proxy avoidance (for example, Amity University). I've found out a way for those of you facing these problems, to access the videos you want, from anywhere in the world. I stumbled across this solution while trying to find a way to ensure that I'll be able to watch the Japan-exclusive Digimon Adventure Tri event when it airs on Nicovideo Live. So, here are the steps. Hopefully, if you follow these steps correctly, you'll end up having a Japanese IP for Nico Nico, an American IP for Netflix/CBS, and so on and so forth.

1. Using a proxy site that IS allowed on your server, such as 2proxy or Sitenable, open the Spotflux website. In this screenshot, I've opened the Spotflux website from within Spotflux itself, for simplicity. Click on 'Try Spotflux free'. If you don't want to install Spotflux, in case you can access the TunnelBear website completely, and due to other reasons as well, skip steps 1-3.


2. Choose your platform. If you choose Windows, you may get a file called sf-install-web.exe. Alternatively, you may download the offline installer from any site that has the current (or even old, doesn't really matter; it updates automatically anyway) version. Now, open the setup file, follow the instructions, and install Spotflux on your computer.


3. After you set up Spotflux, and add your new Spotflux login credentials (you need to create an account first; I suggest using a proxy to do this), you should get something like the image depicted, in your taskbar.


See that little box with the black frame outline, and a silver pyramid thingy protruding from it? That's an inactive Spotflux. Click on it.


You'll get something like the above window. Now, power on your protection by clicking on that little power switch icon that says 'No Protection'.


You should now be connected to a server in the US.

4. Now open the TunnelBear website.


Navigate to the top right corner where it says 'Login', and click on the little arrow that's pointing downwards.


Now click on 'Sign up for TunnelBear'. You should get to the screen shown below.


Enter your first name, email address and preferred password. Now here's the important part.

IMPORTANT: Disable Spotflux protection before clicking on 'Create Account'. Otherwise, you'll get a message along the lines of 'Rawwrrr! Too many registration requests here. Please try again in a week.

After you click on 'Create Account', you'll receive a confirmation email. Click on the link in the confirmation email to activate your account.

5. Now download the TunnelBear client, or as the guys at TunnelBear put it, 'Download a TunnelBear.'


Click on 'Download a TunnelBear'. You can also get the Android and iOS apps, but you'll probably have to register a premium account to install it on multiple devices. Anyway, we'll be getting to that later. Now install TunnelBear. The setup process is kind of funny, because instead of 'Extracting files', it says stuff like 'Unpacking your bear'. On setup completion, you will be prompted to either enter your login details or create a new account. Enter your login details and proceed to the next step.

6. After you're done with installing and setting up your TunnelBear, you should get a screen like this.


Select a country from the drop-down list. I've selected Japan, because I want to stream videos restricted to Japan. Now flick the switch on.


It will take some time to connect. Unlike Spotflux, this process is not instantaneous, and will take about 2-5 minutes.



There, you're all done! If you have trouble connecting, and rarely does this happen, go to the settings menu, and enable TCP Override.


Now, about the pricing. You might notice that the screenshots above show my current data to be about 1.3 gb. But you'll get 500 mb by default per month. So, how did I get extra data for free? Well, you can tweet to TunnelBear once a month, and once that's done, you'll be credited with an extra 1 gb of data. Their premium plans are pretty cheap. Their Giant Bear costs only $5 (actually $4.99) per month, and gives you unlimited bandwidth, and their legendary Grizzly Bear costs $50 (actually $49.99) per year, which means you're billed only once a year, and you save $10 on the whole. Now, if you're living in India, and you have a MasterCard, doesn't matter if it's a credit card or a debit card, you can easily create a PayPal account, and set that as your payment method, because let's face it: $5 per month? That's like 300 rupees by today's exchange rates, and you pay more than that when you go to KFC, or say, buy a half bottle of vodka. Hope you guys enjoyed this article. If you have any issues with this method, you may write about it in the comments below. If you find this article helpful, support me by clicking on the ads. Or forget that. Even a small 'thank you' will suffice. Charioteer out. Peace!

P.S.: If you use TunnelBear, even on a network where torrents are allowed, the BitTorrent ports will be temporarily blocked until the TunnelBear session ends. In other words, you can't download torrents with this method. I'll get to the torrents part in another article.


EDIT: Here's some image proof:

As you can see, I have successfully accessed the live stream's page, and timeshifted it, so that I can watch it from the start 30 minutes after it starts airing. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Can Earn, And So Will You! (The Power of Altruism)

Ok, now before you go all gooey and emotional on me, no this article is not about 'sharing is caring', the joy of giving, and the usual stuff, which is all true, by the way. No. Today, I have something for those of you who want to earn money from just referring people to a site. That's right, you heard me right! Okay, so here's how it goes. I'll get right to it once you hear my entire story. AdSense is going all ninja on me, so I decided to switch to a better alternative (let's face it, I don't have a whole lot of money to spend in college, and probably you don't too). It's called, and the name is not a deception, it does exactly what it says, RevenueHits. So what is RevenueHits, you might ask? It is another contextual advertising service that runs ads on your site or blog, just like the ones from AdSense, Clicksor, Chitika, etc. would. Granted, you need a PayPal account if you're a resident of India (I don't think wire transfer is available here), but you don't need to specify any payment details until your balance hits the minimum $30. Now here comes the fun part. RevenueHits has something called a referral link. You've probably heard of it before if you were ever looking on the internet for a way to use services such as Furk.net or ZZLBox to leech torrents (basically to circumvent your school/college's torrent blocking). It is an incentive system in which you get rewards if somebody signs up for the service using the link you provided. In the case of RevenueHits, you get a shareable referral link, and if somebody signs up for RevenueHits using your referral link, you can earn upto $100 extra. And you know what the best part is? It's completely free! The ads you run are given to you as HTML code, which you then insert in your blog or site (this is very easy if you're using Blogger, or say, WordPress). So, let's say you click my referral link. So I earn money. Then you refer someone else, say your best friend Sally. You get money if Sally signs up. Sally can then send her referral link to others, and the process continues weblike (I say weblike, and not chain-like, because you'll be earning separately for multiple people signing up using your referral link). It's an exciting prospect, because then you'll finally have enough cash to go and see that new movie you always wanted to see with your friends, buy decent headphones, get a professional facial, have a bottle of the finest wine, or if you're like me, eat the best and most expensive non-veg and seafood in the whole city. The possibilities are endless, and no this is not a gimmick or a honeypot (by advertising on your site, the guys at RevenueHits are earning a solid amount of cash too, and you're just getting a share of it), and yes this has been tried and tested before. This is how any self-respecting blogger earns his money: Sign up for AdSense or RevenueHits, post regularly on the blog, and earn some extra money. So if you think you're ready to finally earn some extra cash, and shed off the baggage of your limited college budget, sign up here, and share your referral link with your friends. Charioteer out! Peace!

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Manga Style Webcomic! The Untitled Tale!!

Hey guys, as some of you who're my Facebook friends are aware, I started writing a fanfic series on the lives of 8th Mile Stone, Frappe Ash, myself, and some more superstars from St. Gabriel's Academy, in my Facebook Notes. So, I've decided to finally turn it into a webcomic. I've released the first chapter, and will begin work on the second chapter after my exams end in late May. Here's the first chapter, hosted on The Duck Webcomics. Any kind of feedback is welcome!! :)

http://www.linkbucks.com/B7LJn


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Numaa-Ish Chapters 4-6: LATE POST!!

A/N: First of all, sorry for the late post, guys. I know I was supposed to post this on Tuesday, but I did not have time, so I'm doing so now. I hope you guys will understand. 

Chapter 4


The look on Charlie’s face when Numaa had somehow, it seemed to him, magically conjured up her Mathematics Activity Notebook, had been one that can be best described as one who has been hit in the solar plexus with a powerful roundhouse (Parth has had that uncomfortable experience once). As the bell rang, he ran out of the class muttering “Well I’ll be damned.” Kawaljeet gave a thumbs-up to the two of us; it was every student’s dream to humiliate Charlie. “So, what’s the plan?” asked Numaa, as I walked with her up to the school’s main gate after school was out. “Well, I was thinking of going to Hotel Prakash, since it’s my birthday tomorrow”, I replied. I caught sight of Numaa’s undies yet again, as she bent to cross the chain tied on the gate. I mentally smacked myself on the head for fantasizing about her. We were just friends, and that was it. When the big day finally arrived, it was a chilly Saturday. “Brrr….it’s freezing!” said Numaa, her hands around her shoulders. Anoop, as usual, was up to his stupid antics. He took off his school T-shirt, and proudly strutted around in just his vest and his school pants, his belt all awry. “Thinks he’s a hero, the faggot”, I commented, as he gave Junaid Shekhawat a well-aimed punch in the face. It was the recess. Suddenly, without warning, our imposing buffalo of a principal, Cyriac entered the room. Anoop ran to his seat like a cat with its ass on fire. “You,” he said, “come here”, pointing at me. Wondering what I had done this time, I got up from my seat. Anoop started sniggering, the fatass. “You too”, said Cyriac, gesturing at Anoop to come. Instantly, the annoying smile was wiped from his face. The two of us walked up to Cyriac’s lair, exchanging nervous looks. “Wait here”, said Naseem Bhaiyya the peon, pointing to the waiting room. I walked in, followed by Anoop. “What the fuck have I done to be called here?” I complained. “What have I done to be called here?” said Anoop, still in his vest, as if daring Cyriac to take action against him. It felt like an eternity, but finally, we were both called into Cyriac’s office. “So”, he said. “So.” I looked at Anoop, wondering what the hell made me a co-conspirator with him in some dastardly plot. “You think it’s funny to just stick chewing gums on students’ benches? And you….running around naked like a hobo.” “What?” I asked flatly. “You’re acting like you don’t know? This morning, a young girl walked in from the biology lab, with a piece of chewing gum stuck to her skirt. She told me that the bench she was sitting on had the words ‘Insane Ishan’ written on them. Evidently she thinks it’s you. Your record isn’t exactly clean itself. So, what do you have to say for yourself?” I stared at Cyriac as though he had just said that the Statue of Liberty held not a flaming torch but a giant ice cream cone. “It wasn’t me”, I said. “Then who was it? Speak up! Don’t try to fool me!” he said. “I’m calling your parents. I’ll let you off for now, but beware, I will rat you out to your parents. No further infractions will be tolerated. Now get the hell out of my office. And you….put some clothes on.” I walked into the class, looking like somebody who had just been told that his sperm count was zero. Anoop however, walked in with a wide grin on his face, looking like some sort of war hero. I wondered what his problem was. “Look at him, smiling like an idiot. If he didn’t have all that adipose tissue, I’d beat the shit out of him”, I told Numaa, who was looking at me with a concerned look. “Do you want me to kick him in the nuts again?” she asked, her face contorting in a mixture of a sadistic smile and anger. “No. That would just get you into trouble too”, I said. “By the way, who told you to write ‘Insane Ishan’ on that desk? I thought you hated that name.” “I most certainly did not write that name on the desk!” I protested. “Y’know Ish, I smell a rat. I think someone’s trying to frame you. Let’s go to the V-Dragon”, suggested Numaa. Vasunthi Agarwal, or the ‘V-Dragon’ as she was more commonly known, was our biology teacher. She was fat, but it was in a graceful way. She looked like somebody’s mother, and indeed, scolded her students like she would do her own son. If something was going on in the biology lab, the V-Dragon would know. It was ten minutes before our next class would start. “Ok”, I said. Then we walked out of the class, and headed downstairs to the lab. Inside was the V-Dragon, who had had her breakfast, and then we saw the most bizarre sight we could ever imagine. The skeleton kept in the lab was out of its cage, and it had lipstick on its teeth. The sternum and the pelvis bore the words ‘Insane Ishan’ and ‘Ish x Vasunthi’ in an alternating pattern, written with – wait for it – lipstick! The sight was so sickening that I was forced to say out loud, “What the fuck?!” The V-Dragon looked up, and then glanced at me like I was a skunk. “Ah, Ishan Mukherjee. Just the man I was looking for. Would you care to explain as to why you have written such a hideous thing about your teacher?” she said in a loud voice that would put a roaring dragon to shame. I noticed that beside her stood a short girl, who was sobbing and had pink bubblegum stuck to her hips. “Look ma’am, that’s why we’re here. We think somebody’s framing Ish-“ “You keep your beak clenched,” said ma’am, now looking thunderstruck. “Why, oh why did you do such a thing? I looked upon you as a son. I considered myself a second mother to you. Why would you have dirty thoughts about your own mother?” she said, half-sobbing herself. “Look ma’am, I didn’t do this, I swear. That’s why I came here. Brother Cyriac summoned me to his office earlier, and that’s when I came to know that someone was doing this stuff to frame me. And I swear, when I get my hands on that bastard –“ “Please Ishan, language”, said the V-Dragon. “Do you suspect anyone?” “There aren’t a great deal of people I know who would do such a thing, but I suspect that somebody who sat on that seat wrote my name there”, I explained. “Where is the seat?” “O-over there”, sobbed the little girl, her face red from all the crying. I walked up to where she was pointing. “Ma’am, do you know who sat here the last time, before this girl did?” I asked. “Alok Mishra, I think”, replied the V-Dragon. “Who’s Alok Mishra? Do you know any Alok Mishra, Ish?” asked Numaa. “Oh I know very well”, I said, clenching my fists and grinding my teeth. Alok Mishra was Anoop’s brother, who studied in the 12th grade. Alok and Anoop were both well-known troublemakers, and Alok in particular hated me for some reason I cannot comprehend. “So that’s why Anoop was smiling today!” gasped Numaa, as realization dawned on her too. “Would you two explain to me what you’re babbling about, or will I have to call in Leonardo DiCaprio?” said the V-Dragon irritably. “Come with us, ma’am!” urged Numaa. When the V-Dragon just stood there, Numaa grabbed her hand, momentarily bewildering her. “Whoa!” she said. “Let go kid, I’m coming!” And so Numaa and I ran up the stairs, Numaa bringing up the rear. Panting, we finally reached the classroom. Anoop was, as usual, enjoying Junaid’s tiffin. As soon as the V-Dragon entered the class, his characteristic twisted grin was wiped off of his face. “There he is, the co-conspirator. He and his brother planned all that shit”, said Numaa. Anoop made to run, but the V-Dragon pushed him down, grabbed him by the collar, and gave him a tight slap that resounded throughout the hallway, making people stop to look at what had happened. “Come with me, Anoop, and I’ll show you what you get for pairing a teacher and a student as lovers”, said the V-Dragon calmly. And with that, she took Anoop to the principal’s office, and we didn’t see him all day after that.

*

The liquor shop outside Hotel Prakash was flooded with people who wanted to get their daily, monthly or weekly dose of high. Numaa went and ordered two cans of Kingfisher’s Beer, and we headed upstairs to the Restaurant section, waiting for the rest of our friends. “I don’t get one thing, Numaa”, I said, as we sat down on the seats at the very end, facing a giant sofa-seat-something. “And what is that?” she asked. “Alcohol is haram in Islam, isn’t it? So how come you, being a Muslim, drink booze?” “Oh, I don’t follow the rules of any religion. I think religion is bullshit”, she admitted. “Then how come you believe in God?” I taunted. “Oh, it’s just convenient. There are certain limits to things you can do. If I didn’t believe in God and sin, I’d probably be murdering people, you know, killing Anoop, drinking your blood”, she said, looking at the puzzled look on my face. “Sadist.” “Oh you have no idea. Oh, here they come.” And so they did – Junaid Shekhawat, Malvika Chattopadhyay, Kawaljeet Singh, and Javed Bashir. “Hi Numaa”, greeted Malvika pleasantly. She was a tall and busty girl who possessed the rare ‘Bengali beauty’. “Hey hey hey! It’s my birthday!” I complained. “Oh yeah. Happy b’day Ishan.” “Happy b’day mate!” said Kawaljeet, a medium-height guy with specs. “Man, you screwed Charlie up the ass big time”, said Javed, a swarthy guy also wearing specs. “Congoz on sweet sixteen, dude!” said Junaid, who was the only white Muslim guy I knew. He looked like a slimmer version of Jesus, with his beard and all. “Sit down everybody”, I said, slightly embarrassed. They did. “So, what do you guys wanna order?” I asked, as the obsequious waiter (apparently he was new, the older ones were more like supercilious) hovered over us. “Sir, you can’t have that here”, he said, pointing to the can of beer. “Ma’am, you too.” “It’s just one can of beer man! Tell you what. You don’t say a word to anybody, and I’ll tip you a hundred bucks, I promise you that”, I offered. “Are you mad?” mouthed Numaa. “Deal. Pleasure doing business with you”, said the waiter, smiling. “Let’s see. Do you guys want burgers first? They make good appetizers. Plus, we can throw in some pizza later”, I said. “I wanna eat Chinese”, said Malvika. “Ditto”, said Numaa. “Seconded”, said Kawaljeet. “Thirded”, said Junaid. “Oh alright. That’s enough. So we’ll be ordering dry Manchurian balls or burgers?” I asked, looking around at the entire gang. “Definitely burgers. We’ll be ordering the Manchurian balls with the main course”, said Junaid. “Which will be?” “Veg Chopsuey or Chinese Chopsuey”, said Numaa. “I want Veg”, said Kawaljeet. “Chinese”, said Malvika. “Oh, ok, we’ll order both. And what drinks do you guys want?” “Fanta”, said everyone except Numaa, who said “Fresh lime soda.” “Okay then. Bhaiyya, bring six veg burgers, four Fantas, and two fresh lime sodas, mixed”, I said. “Right back atcha sir”, said the waiter, positively beaming. And he returned with six burgers not five minutes later. “I’m bringing the drinks now”, he said. And almost instantly, he returned with four Fantas and two fresh lime sodas (salty and sweet mixed). “See? You offer them a little money, and they’re right in your pocket”, I said, grinning. “Stop being such a poseur, Ish. You’re not a fucking billionaire”, said Numaa. “Aw, you two make such a great couple”, said Malvika, in what she thought was an off-hand manner. I blushed and looked down. “Bitch please”, said Numaa. After we had barely finished our burgers, we ordered one plate Veg Chopsuey, one plate Chinese Chopsuey, and half a plate dry Manchurian balls. “Let’s dig in!” said Kawaljeet, taking three dollops each of Chinese Chopsuey and Veg Chopsuey and a generous amount of dry Manchurian balls. “Yaar, where is Johnny? I thought he was gonna come too”, said Numaa. “I’m right here, bitches”, said a voice from behind. We all turned around to see the one and only Casanova of our class, Johnny Fernandez, dressed in formals, with a bag tied to his shoulder. We all stood up to greet the latecomer. “Why the bag?” I asked. “You’ll see soon enough”, he said, winking. “So, where’s the waiter with my food?” he asked, eyeing Malvika with what I hoped wasn’t a mushy look. “We’re calling him right now. We haven’t started with the beer yet, though. Numaa and I have one can each”, I said. “Good. I have a fucking awesome idea”, said Johnny, grinning. “All right. Bhaiyya! Bring another plate of Veg Chopsuey”, I called out. “So, what’s in the bag?” asked Numaa. “Take it out, the suspense is killing me”, said Kawaljeet. “Alright,” said Johnny, sitting down on the sofa thing with Malvika and Javed, “here goes nothing.” “Oh you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me”, I groaned. Johnny had taken out a bottle of Mountain Dew - fucking Mountain Dew! - from his bag. “Mountain Dew? Seriously? That’s the big surprise?” “Shhh!!” whispered Johnny. “This ain’t no Mountain Dew. I threw out that shit earlier. This bottle contains straight grain whiskey, for those of you who want to drink. Of course, nobody’s forcing you.” “Okay, so what’s the big idea?” asked Malvika,  while  Junaid  whispered  something  that  sounded  like “Haram…” “Well, we’re gonna play a little drinking game. It’s called ‘I Never’. You see, the person whose chance is up tells you a thing he or she never ever did, and whoever has done that particular thing at any point in their life, drinks from their glass”, he said. “Waiter!” I barked. “Bring us five empty glasses. And take these glasses of water away.” “Yes boss!” “What’s with that waiter?” asked Johnny curiously. “Oh, I told him that I’m about to tip him a hundred bucks, which I am”, I said proudly. “Poseur”, sneered Johnny. “Ok, let’s begin. Junaid, Javed, you guys can play this game with your soft drinks as well. Numaa, you start. I’ll pour the whiskey into your glass first, and then you top it up with the beer.” Numaa nodded, as Johnny filled one-fourth of the glass with whiskey, and Numaa opened the can and filled the glass to the top with beer. “Ok, here goes. I never kissed a guy”, said Numaa. Malvika andJohnny took a shot each from their glasses (which had been filled with a mixture of my beer, and whiskey, by Johnny). “Johnny?” said Malvika, staring incredulously at him with an open mouth. “You never told me you were gay!” “I am NOT. I was drunk. It was last year”, he said, almost dropping his glass. “By the way, who was the guy?” asked Numaa. “Promise me you won’t gag?” pleaded Johnny. “Promised”, said Numaa. “Anoop.” “What the fucking fuck?” I roared. “We were both drunk as fuck. And he had also done an entire ganja joint, so he was stoned”, explained Johnny, as if trying to justify kissing a menace to the public in general. “By the way, I hate him”, he clarified. “Was it just a kiss on the kiss on the cheek or a proper smooch?” I asked. “A proper lip-lock”, sighed Johnny. “I don’t think any of us will be able to get that image out of our minds for the rest of our lives”, I said. “Amen”, said Numaa. “Next, since I’m sitting next to Johnny, it’s my turn”, I said. “I never kissed a teacher”, I admitted. This time only Johnny drank deeply from his glass. “Ok. What the actual fuck, dude?” said Numaa in a loud voice, prompting many heads to turn in our direction. “It was only one time. You know, Miss Shanaya. She didn’t seem to mind, but she told me that she’d kick my butt if I came near her anytime in the future”, said Johnny gleefully. Miss Shanaya was a divorced, busty teacher, who had come all the way from Doon School. She always wore too much mascara and kohl, but half the class boys never looked past her boobs. Her nickname was ‘Mother Dairy’, a name that, fortunately, she did not know. “Okay, my turn”, said Numaa. “I’ve never had tequila.” This time, only Kawaljeet drank from his glass. “Kawal?” said Malvika, amazed. “I had it at my brother’s ring ceremony. We Punjabis have really drunken weddings”, he admitted. “Next, my turn”, said Javed. “I’ve never seen a porno.” Everybody excluding Javed and Junaid drank from their glasses. “Numaa, even you?” I asked, surprised. “Why should boys have all the fun?” she said, winking. “You into lesbian porn?” asked Johnny. “None of your business”, snapped Numaa. “What about you guys, Javed and Junaid?” I asked. “Not really interested in watching some white chick getting boned by a white guy”, admitted Javed. “Okay, next, it’s my turn”, said Junaid. “I’ve never seen a real girl naked.” Everyone except me and Junaid drank from their glasses. “Malvika?” I asked, interested. “My cousin sister, Numaa, my 14-year old niece, and my mom”, she replied. “Lesbians. Lesbians everywhere”, I said, earning a jab in the ribs from Numaa’s elbow. “Okay, my turn”, said Kawaljeet. “I’ve never had a crush on a schoolteacher.” Only Johnny and I drank from our glasses. “Eww!! You guys are so dirty!” said Malvika. “Look who’s talking”, said Kawaljeet woozily. “May I ask who that unlucky teacher was?” asked Numaa. “Um, let me start from the eighth grade. First it was Mrs Verma, then in the ninth grade, it was Shanaya ma’am, and now it’s Pooja.” Pooja was the new teacher temporarily filling in for Garima ma’am, since Garima ma’am was about to get married. “Fuck you, Pooh’s mine!” said Kawaljeet. “Uh, the game’s supposed to be about stuff you haven’t done, Kawal”, said Malvika. “My one true love will always be Shanaya Khan”, I said fondly. “Ok, enough. My turn,” said Malvika. “I’ve never had a pet.” “That’s lame”, said Numaa. “Yeah, yeah whatever.” Only Johnny, Kawaljeet and I drank from our glasses. “Man, I think Kawal’s gonna get drunk tonight”, commented Johnny. “I had a Cocker Spaniel, but she died very young”, I said plaintively. “Ah, the good die young!” sighed Kawaljeet. “By the way, what was her name?” “Nikki”, I sighed. “I have a German Shepherd. He’s really friendly though”, said Johnny. “That’s what you think”, said Kawaljeet. “What about you, Kawal?” said Numaa, with a puppy dog look in her eyes. She had reached her limit of alcohol tolerance. “I have a Labrador named Julian, and she’s my best friend. She sleeps in my bed. I’ve even tasted her Pedigree”, said Kawaljeet. “That’s not really something to boast about or even say out loud”, I commented. “He’s out. I’ll drop him home, don’t you worry,” said Johnny. “I’ve come walking. My Dad dropped me at the Century Gate (the gate that was the entrance to Civil Lines, where Hotel Prakash was).” The food had almost disappeared. “Bring the bill”, I called out to the waiter. “Yes sir”, he said smiling. As he brought the bill, I noticed that the booklet thingy had packets of what looked suspiciously like mouth freshener. “You’ll be needing them, sir”, said the waiter, smiling. “Thanks”, I said. And as I paid the bill, I accidentally tipped the waiter five hundred bucks.




Chapter 5


It was a full fifteen days before we saw Anoop again. He entered the class swearing under his breath. Numaa gave him an ‘I’ll-beat-the-shit-out-of-you’ gesture, and he frowned, as he finally got back to his seat, knocking over his neighbour, muttering something about ‘black dogs’. It would be Christmas Eve the next day, and all of us were excited, because this time Frappe Ash was finally selected to sing his rap in the Christmas function, and the combination of a good rap with a good rock band playing (whose extant members were still at school, some of whom were, like Frappe and me, in the tenth grade). Numaa’s mother was a pleasant lady who had graduated from Oxford University. As a result, every year we were invited to Eid and Bakr-Eid, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving (of course without the turkey), at Numaa’s place. This year would be no different, except that Numaa was no longer a kid, so she insisted that we don’t get her any presents. “Good morning students”, said the V-Dragon (she was our class teacher), as she entered the class. She looked sunnier than ever, and my first impression was that she had won a lottery or something. “Today’s a free period, since we’re done with the formatives. Tomorrow, you will have a revision test for the summative”, she said. Everyone in the class let out audible groans. “Now, now kids (Numaa rolled her eyes theatrically at this), we mustn’t forget that what you do in these three months has the potential to decide your entire career. It’s make or break. Buck up!” It was more than a bit hard to have fun when you knew you had a test the next day. Almost everybody got to work, studying the topics to be covered in the forthcoming summative. Numaa, however, sat back and stretched her arms, letting out a yawn. She nudged Malvika, who was sitting right next to her. Malvika woke with a start, for she had been sleeping with her head on the desk. Numaa said something to Malvika that I couldn’t hear. Malvika nodded, and Numaa wrote something down on a piece of paper, and passed it to Kawaljeet (who was my neighbour). He gave it to me.

We’re playing Hollywood. Wanna join? 

I nodded, and wrote back.

Sure. Who else is playing?

Numaa seemed to take a while to think. Then she started writing again in her elegant, flowing cursive handwriting.

Malvika and Johnny. Javed’s in ‘do-not-disturb’ mode, and Junaid’s sleeping. Anoop’s been apologizing to me since morning, and has been giving me weird looks ever since the V-Dragon entered the class. Maybe we should go easy on him and let him play too?

I looked at Anoop. He looked like the tragic hero of some Gaelic ballad, or a hopeless Romeo who had just had his heart broken by his ladylove. Smiling petulantly, I wrote back.

Ok. As long as you don’t kick him in the nuts again :)

Alright then, let’s begin.

Then, Numaa tore another page from her copy, and handed it to Malvika, who wrote down the first movie. At long last, the paper reached our table.

__U__A__ __I

“C?” ventured Kawaljeet. Numaa shook her head, and crossed out ‘H’ from the giant ‘HOLLYWOOD’ written at the top of the page. “F?” he tried again. Another cross. “Randomly guessing alphabets from the consonants? Seriously Kawal? That’s your strategy? How dumb can you get? Move aside, let me try”, I said irritably. “N. N for Numaa.” Numaa smiled and wrote.

__U__ A N __I

“Oh”, I said, beaming. I instantly knew which movie it was. I wrote down the entire movie.


J U M A N J I


Numaa frowned and then mouthed “Correct”. This time Numaa wrote down the movie.

__A__A__O__ __ A__ / A__ __I__I__ __

This time it was my turn to frown. Knowing Numaa, this wouldn’t be an easy one. I gestured to Kawaljeet to keep quiet, but he spoke anyway. “T?” Numaa nodded and then wrote.

__A__A__O__ __A__/A__ T I__I T __

I paused for a while and thought. If there were two T’s in the second word, then the word was ‘ACTIVITY’. And if the second word was ‘ACTIVITY’, then the movie was….”Paranormal Activity!” I said out loud.

P A R A N O R M A L / A C T I V I T Y

“You are impossible”, said Numaa, as I wrote down the next movie and gave it to her. After that, Malvika sent the paper to Anoop, who had to fend for himself. At the end, the score was: Boys – 3 and Girls – 3. The bell for the next period rang not ten seconds later. “It’s a draw!” exclaimed Kawaljeet, not even standing up to say “Thank you ma’am”. “Of all the rotten luck”, groaned Numaa.

*

Due to its low altitude, Roorkee never witnessed any snowfall. So I was more than a little surprised, when on the next day, Friday, Christmas Eve, Numaa walked into the class, shivering, covered in what looked like snow. “What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the white mess on Numaa’s right shoulder. “Snow spray”, said Numaa, still shivering. “Johnny sprayed it onto me. He knows I hate snow spray. He’s even ruined my hair. Look.” And she turned around to show me her curly hair filled with confetti-sized pellets of the snow spray. I couldn’t help but let out a laugh. “Funny, is it? Oh Ish, you’re horrible. I won’t be able to go to the school assembly like this”, she said. “Chillax,” I said, “I’ll help you wipe it off.” “How?” said Numaa. I checked to see if anybody was around. I spotted nobody, so I took off my shirt and handed it to Numaa. “Ummm…thank you? I should hurry up, or people would think we’re up to something”, she said. Just as Numaa started to wipe her hair with the inside of my shirt’s breast pocket, Anoop entered the class. That devil’s eyes fell on us, and they widened to the size of tennis balls. He ran out of the class, yelling, “Ma’am, ma’am!! Ishan is raping Numaa!!” “Oh fuck!” spat Numaa. Hastily wiping the snow spray off her shoulders, Numaa handed the shirt to me, and said, “You’d better put that on fast, or there’ll be hell to pay for.” I buttoned my shirt as fast as I could, and was tucking it inside just when the V-Dragon entered the class. “Okay, what’s the big ruckus, Anoop?” she snapped. As I had finished tucking the folds of my shirt into my pant, Anoop pointed at me and Numaa. The V-Dragon just looked at us, and then stared at Anoop piercingly. “Are you trying to get suspended again? Just go back to your seat, and stop it with these false allegations. I’m growing tired of you and your brother. Don’t make me tell Brother Cyriac to call your parents. Go and sit down!” she scolded him. “Oh, and there won’t be any assembly today, as Brother Cyriac is on leave. Your other friends will find out soon enough”, she added hastily. The V-Dragon and went to her office to get what looked like a worn-out practical file. “I’ll write down the questions. You will write only the answers down, on a piece of paper. Hand in your answers at the end of the period. Let the revision test begin!” she said decisively. And with that, she said writing down the questions that would surely be the doom of lots of students in the class. I looked at the first question. If the phenotypes of the child and the mother are short and tall respectively, what are the possible phenotypes and genotypes of the father? I pondered for a moment the answer. The genotypes of the mother and the child weren’t given. That meant that although the child was homozygous for short (tt), the genotype of the mother could be either Tt (heterozygous) or TT (homozygous). However, any sperm combining with a T allele would give a tall individual. So, the mother had to be heterozygous (Tt). That meant the father could be either heterozygous tall (Tt) or homozygous short (tt). I wrote down the answer, and then proceeded to the next question (there were a total of four questions). Why does menstruation occur? I read. I looked up at Numaa. She was halfway between a frown and a giggle. Because fuck you, that’s why, I thought. I then wrote down the proper answer, the one that I had written down a thousand times before. Next question. Explain homologous and analogous organs and give two examples of each. It was as if the V-Dragon had really gone barking mad. I was pretty sure easy questions like these wouldn’t come up in the exams. Nevertheless, I wrote down the answer. By the time I had finished the fourth (and last) question (Explain the male reproductive system with a diagram.), my hands had gotten so tired that I literally wrung them randomly in the air. I finally poured some water into the lid-cum-serving-cup of my steel water bottle, and drank it in one gulp. After that, I slept and missed my attendance in Charlie’s period, missed a couple of notes in Garima’s and Mrs K’s period, and then mindlessly gobbled Numaa’s tiffin while she ate mine in a dignified manner. Most of the second half of school was a blur, and when I reached home, lunch was a quiet affair. I then went to sleep and didn’t wake up until at least three hours later.

*

“Merry Christmas, Numaa”, I said, as I entered her house. “Joyeux NoŃ‘l Ish”, said Numaa, running up to greet me. I noticed she was wearing a black, off-shoulder top with blue jeans. She had braided her hair into even more curls, and she had a hint of kohl in her eyes. “Where are the others?” I asked her, for I couldn’t see the other guys and gals from school anywhere. “In my room”, replied Numaa. And she led me to her bedroom, which was nothing like that of any girl I knew. Instead of the tidiness expected from a girl, all her school books were carelessly cramped into a corner of her study table, her pens and refills made a mess in her open drawer, her bag lying open on the floor. She had posters of Billie Joe Armstrong (the lead vocalist of Green Day), Eminem, Jim Carrey and Jim Parsons stuck on her walls, and the floor of her room looked like somebody had attempted to break the very foundation by stomping on it. Inside I could see Malvika in animated conversation with Johnny, and Kawaljeet arguing with Javed, who was holding something that looked suspiciously like a Christmas gift, in his hands. Next to him sat Junaid. And then I noticed a girl I hadn’t seen before in my entire life. She had burgundy hair, which she wore in a ponytail. She had a round face, just like Numaa’s, yet her eyes were larger and jet black. Her face was red with blush, and she had pink lipstick on. As I moved closer to her, her hair smelled like strawberry. She looked up at me. “Yes?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. “Er…hi, I’m Ish. Ishan Mukherjee”, I muttered uncertainly. “Aisha Sripada. But you can call me Pinky, if you wanna be my friend, that is”, she said with a smile I knew would stay in my mind for forever more. “Umm, okay. Where’re you from, Pinky? I haven’t seen you at St. Gabriel’s”, I said. “That’s ‘cause I study at St. Ann’s. I’m from Hyderabad, but my family originated in Kerala. That’s how I know Numaa. She and I are old family friends”, said Aisha. She paused as I processed this new piece of information. To break the awkward silence, Numaa said, “I’m bringing the poufs and wooden table from the store room, along with the bottle of Thums-Up I drank yesterday. We’re gonna play Truth or Dare.” “Isn’t the game supposed to be played with a glass bottle?” asked Aisha. I noticed how shiny her hair was, how cute she looked while she took up a decisive stance and (I mentally kicked myself in the ass for this) how big her rack was. “Problem, Pinky?” said Numaa, raising her eyebrows. ‘Pinky’ in turn, stuck her tongue out at Numaa. Once Numaa was out of earshot, Aisha said, “Problem, Pinky?” in a mocking voice. “Gosh, she can be such a sour puss at times”, sighed Aisha. Her sigh, the sound of her voice, everything about her, turned me on. This was one girl, whom I would make mine, that I promised myself. In a couple of minutes, Numaa bought in a large, ellipsoid wooden table. “You,” she barked, pointing at Aisha, “help me get those poufs here.” “Yes ma’am”, said Aisha submissively. In a matter of mere seconds, Aisha and Numaa brought in four maroon poufs each. “Let the moment of truth begin”, said Numaa. Everyone sat around the table, with Aisha sitting on the bed, me sitting below Aisha’s leg, and Numaa sitting on the pouf directly opposite to the bed. Numaa took out a bottle from under her study table, and put it on the ellipsoidal table. “You first, partner”, said Kawaljeet. “Alright then”, I said, as I spun the bottle. When it finally stopped, the neck of the bottle faced Johnny, and the back end faced Aisha. “Alright then. Johnny, is it? Have you ever had sex with a girl?” she asked. “Oh boy, here we go again”, said Malvika. “I think we all already know the answer to that”, said Numaa. “That ship sailed long ago”, I said. “What he said”, said Johnny, looking slightly embarrassed. “By the way, who was the girl?” asked Aisha. “That’s classified information. Let’s just say that she’s sitting in this room with us”, replied Johnny, earning him a jab in the ribs from Malvika. “He’s like the Stiffler of Roorkee, getting laid first and all”, said Numaa. “Now I think I’ll spin the bottle”, she said. And so she did. When the bottle stopped this time, the neck of the bottle faced Aisha, and the other end faced Numaa. “Ooh, this is gonna be interesting”, said Numaa, with an evil grin on her face. “So, are you a virgin?” “Yes, Numaa, sadly I am. I just haven’t found the right guy yet”, said Aisha plaintively, winking at me. Was she bluffing? Or hitting on me? Or both? This time Johnny spun the bottle. The neck of the bottle faced Kawaljeet, and the backside faced Johnny. “Alright, tough guy. Time to confess. How many times have you gotten drunk at a wedding?” asked Johnny. “Umm…lemme think. Five? No, maybe six? I haven’t kept track”, replied Kawaljeet. “This guy is unbelievable!” said Johnny. Next, Javed (reluctantly) spun the bottle. This time the neck of the bottle pointed towards me, and the other end pointed towards Malvika. “Err….ahem!” I tried, clearing my throat. “How many guys have you kissed?” I finally asked, thinking that this was a relatively innocuous question. “Just one. I’m no – god I can’t even say the word - whore. Don’t ask me a question like that ever again”, said Malvika, crossly. Just then, Mrs Rahman (Numaa’s mom) arrived. “The cake’s ready. It’s all cooled down too now. Come out and eat it”, she said, beaming. We rushed out into the living room, where chairs had been arranged for all the guests. “Sit”, said Mrs Rahman. We did so. We were given paper plates, with a piece of chocolate cake with a melted chocolate frosting on top too. Aisha took a bite out of her cake. “Mmmm…it’s sweet”, she said, the blood rushing to her cheeks. “So are you”, I said suddenly. Aisha blinked and then said, “Are you flirting with me, tiger?” she asked. “I’m really, really sorry I said that, I just - ” “Shhh. No need to apologize”, she said, putting her finger on my lips. “This is the first time I’ve met someone like you”, she said, smiling. “You’re cute”, she said. “Come close.” As I went a bit closer to her, she pulled me into a full-blown kiss. I could feel her tongue on mine, the corners of mouth with my tongue, her hold on my cheeks, the saliva coming from her mouth, the taste of her. I held on, as our tongues battled for dominance. “Wow!” I finally said, when she let go after a full two minutes. And just like that, ten months rolled by with my new ladylove.


10 MONTHS

LATER






Chapter 6


It had been ten months since that fateful night of Christmas Eve. So much had changed. We were now in the eleventh grade. Junaid and Javed had left us. They had gone to Kota for IIT-JEE preparation. Aisha was now in our school. Malvika, Johnny, Numaa, Kawaljeet, Aisha and I, were in class 11B, with the subjects PCM with biology. According to Aisha, she had moved to St. Gabriel’s ‘for better prospects’, but I knew better. She wanted to get out of the oppressive hellhole that was St. Anns, and wanted to come closer to me. So, here I was, sitting right next to Aisha, maybe a little too close for comfort, on the desk, my feet facing the bench. Johnny sat on the opposite desk, shamelessly hugging Malvika from behind, DJ A.Sen’s remix of Dhunki playing on his phone. “Look at us”, he said. “It’s the recess, we’ve bunked two periods, and we’re sitting here not one week from the exams, listening to music, with our girlfriends.” “Chillax. It’s not like we haven’t studied anything”, I said, stroking Aisha’s neck. “I wonder where Numaa’s disappeared to”, I mused out loud. But just then, Numaa entered the classroom. “Dhunki?” she asked smiling. “Ah Numaa. Just the person we were looking for”, said Johnny, patting the bench just below the desk on which he and Malvika sat. Numaa sat down on it. “So, where were you, Numaa?” asked Malvika. “Oh, I was in the staff room. They say they’ve postponed the exams. They’re gonna hold them in February instead”, she sighed. “What!?” said Aisha incredulously. “They’re gonna ruin our Valentine’s!” roared Johnny so loud that a startled Anoop (yes, he was still around) turned around. “Oh, they don’t care about that. Our school doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway”, said Numaa, in a pacifying manner. “But we do!” protested Aisha, tightening her hold on my free hand. “So, what periods do we have next?” asked Kawaljeet, who was sitting on the bench in front of me, and who still didn’t have a girlfriend. “Double chemistry with Chummi and physics practical with Mrs Kaur, both of whom are absent, followed by English with Bhandari”, I said, counting the periods off on my fingertips. “Ah, Bhandari the Bespectacled!” sighed Johnny. “Do that mimicry of Bhandari that you always do”, begged Malvika. “Beta, I did not expect this from you”, said Johnny in a mock disappointed voice. “What about Muttu?” asked Numaa. “Ah, alright then, if you insist”, said Johnny, stealing a glance up Numaa’s skirt. This pissed me off for some reason. And then he put on a falsetto fat, pompous voice. “Beta, computers read and write at the same time – and then – are you barking mad? How can a computer read and write at the same time?” He dropped the falsetto voice. “Total retard, I tell you. Good thing I took biology instead of computers. Too bad we don’t have the fun stuff in the 11th grade”, he sighed. Kawaljeet grunted. He knew as well as I did what Johnny meant by the ‘fun stuff’. The girls knew too. “God, Johnny, is that all that you guys ever think about?” asked Numaa, facepalming. “Tell you what,” I said, “let’s all head out to the jungle and bunk Chummi’s chemistry periods, then come back to sleep off during the free practical period, and then have a little fun in Bhandari’s period. What say, Numaa?” I asked, glancing at Numaa, who was still my bestie. “We’re ninjas, buddy”, she said, winking, punching my fist. “Oh, alright, alright, that’s enough. We’re all going”, said Aisha irritably. She looked cute even when angry. Just then, the bell rang to signal the end of recess. “Let’s go. It’s now or never”, said Numaa. And we grabbed our bags and ran out of the class, down the stairs, to the school stage.

*

We hid behind the stairs, waiting for everyone to go back to their respective classes. However, there was no sign of any teacher, or, for that matter, Cyriac. “Alright troops, let’s go”, said Numaa. We walked carefully down the precipitous yet winding path that led, through bramble and thorn, to a sort of clearing with a gorge in between. In other words, a miniature jungle. According to the gossip in the class and among the juniors, a monitor lizard had been spotted in the jungle, although since I hadn’t been to the ‘jungle’ in a long time, I couldn’t verify the veracity of this rumour. I, however, did know that there were many snake burrows in the jungle, and the only teacher who dared come after students into the jungle, was a balding guy with a long face, named ‘Pendu’ by the students. This Pendu was a very lecherous fellow, who shamelessly flirted with his female students. Rumour had it that he was once caught taking a girl’s sweater off at an NCC (National Cadet Corps; Pendu was an honorary captain.) camp. He was also recently suspended from the school when he asked a girl what her three boyfriends did with her (he had previously asked her how many boyfriends she had, and she had told him she had three), and her friend reported this to Cyriac. My train of thoughts was suddenly interrupted when we reached the clearing. “Well, what’s the programme?” asked Numaa. “Photoshoot!” said Aisha excitedly. “Okay then, let’s go”, said Kawaljeet, heading for a tree bowed down so low, it was almost as if were to break. Malvika went above to scout for any trouble, and returned not two minutes later with some really bad news. “I just saw Anoop heading this way. If he sees us, and rats us out to Pendu, we’re screwed for sure”, she said. “I’ve got an idea”, said Numaa. “And it involves all of you but Malvika and Aisha.” “Why not us?” protested Aisha. “Because we want our two most beautiful wingmen to be free from harm”, said Johnny, winking. “More like wingwomen”, said Kawaljeet. “Okay. Come on. No time to waste. Don’t freak out, but we’re about to take Anoop hostage. Malvika, you’ll keep watch. Aisha, you’ll momentarily distract Mr Rathi so that we can take the rope or the pump from the sports room, and you guys follow me. I’ll kick Anoop in the nuts, and you’ll help me drag him with us here”, said Numaa. “Alright”, I said. Although I couldn’t see how we could possibly pull this off, carrying Anoop with us without being caught, adrenaline and noradrenaline coursed through my veins. As I climbed up over the undergrowth, I saw Anoop acting as though he was strolling casually up to the NCC office, which was next to the physics lab, which was in turn adjacent to the biology lab and the sports room. Numaa caught up to him. She was neck and neck with Anoop now. It was now or never. I broke into a run. “Going somewhere, Anoop?” asked Numaa, ever so politely. “To screw you bitches up the ass”, replied Anoop with an evil grin. I was running at top speed now. Numaa kicked him in the nuts and said, “Wrong answer mate.” I tackled Anoop, taking advantage of his moment of pain. Kawaljeet grabbed Anoop’s right leg, Johnny grabbed his left, and Numaa and I grabbed his arms, bearing his weight together. In the distance, I saw Aisha making conversation with Mr Rathi, the sports teacher. Malvika, who was just near the school stage now, just dashed to a midway point, went to the sports room, hastily grabbed some rope and the pump used to fill air in the basketballs. Anoop groaned. “Just a little further now”, said Numaa reassuringly. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”, chanted Johnny manically. “What?” asked Kawaljeet, amused that somebody could associate walking with swimming. “Finding Nemo, dude. Remember that fish Dory?” said Aisha. We had successfully reached the back of the school stage. “Let’s roll the fatass down”, suggested Aisha. “Nah that would be too evil, even for us”, said Johnny. “I’ll get you guys”, growled Anoop, starting to stir. “Careful”, I warned. “Let’s go”, said Numaa, starting to move fast down the sloping path to the clearing, pulling us forward faster than ever. Suddenly, Anoop seemed to think it was a good idea to attempt to put his foot on the ground. As a result, we all rolled into a tumble. Numaa was two inches from landing on me, when Aisha pushed her out of the way, and said, “No, he’s mine, you bitch!!” and hugged me so tight, the breath was knocked out of me as I fell to the ground. Numaa landed headfirst on the grass, her hair now a mess. Anoop stood up, but Numaa, who had dirt all over her shirt, gave Aisha one piercing look and then pinned Anoop down with her foot. “You’ll never get away with this”, he said. “Oh, that’s debatable. Boys, tie his legs up”, commanded Numaa. “It’s a bit risky. You gals handle that department”, I said. “On it”, said Aisha, and I had the distinct impression that she would do anything I said. “Come on Malvika!” And together they somehow managed to tie up Anoop’s legs with the rope. “The hands next”, said Numaa. I nodded, and along with Kawaljeet and Johnny, tied the brute’s hands up. “That’s no good. He can still hop, skip and jump”, pointed out Malvika. “We need to stuff something in his mouth.” “Good point. Who’ll volunteer? Step forward!” said Johnny. Everybody excluding Numaa stepped backward. Numaa turned around to look at all of us standing at a safe distance from her. “Why do I always automatically come forward in situations like these?” she grumbled. “Er.., because you have the IQ level of a rhesus monkey?” said Aisha, in a mock uncertain voice. Numaa gave Aisha such a piercing glare that it would set the jungle on fire, if such a thing were possible. “Put the old sock in ‘em”, said Kawaljeet. “What, and go home sockless?” said Numaa horrified. “Would you rather go home braless then?” said Aisha sarcastically. “Actually,” said Numaa, “now that I come to think of it, I probably would.” I had the distinct impression that she would do anything to spite Aisha. “Oh, take it off, take it off!” Johnny all but squealed. I don’t know why this pissed me off, for neither was Numaa my girlfriend nor my crush. But I guess I was justified in being a little put out. I mean, Johnny had Malvika as a girlfriend, for cryin’ out loud! “Don’t even think of following me, you fucking perv”, spat Numaa. And then she stalked off to a patch near the gorge that separated the small stream more often than not filled with garbage, from the rest of the jungle. As Numaa walked back to us, I caught a fleeting glance of her cleavage. Again, I mentally punched myself for letting my thoughts stray in that direction. “You wear size C-cups?” I asked Numaa, reading the label on her bra. “Problem?” snapped Numaa. “Congratulations, faggot. This is your lucky day. This is the first and last time you will get to taste a woman’s used bra.” And with that, she stuffed her bra, wincing as she saw how the fold ruined the creases, into Anoop’s protesting mouth. “Now what?” I asked. “Now, let us make him walk the plank”, said Numaa, an evil grin spreading on her face. “Walk the plank? What do you –” began Aisha, but I instantly knew what she meant. Numaa’s grin was reflected in my face, and Johnny, having seen my expression, said, “Oh.” He had caught our drift too. Kawaljeet, Malvika and Aisha all looked at us as though they thought we had lost our minds. “Wut?” asked Malvika. “The plank, Malvika. The plank”, said Numaa, narrowing her eyes towards the ‘plank’. The ‘plank’ was basically a narrow tree that created a bridge from the level ground to a high point with a clearing of trees, bridging the distance between a perpendicular high point and a low point, above what was otherwise essentially an abyss, a point of no return (You could climb up, but not before you ruined your clothes from all the mud in the gorge.). “Oh”, said Malvika, nudging Kawaljeet and pointing to the ‘plank’. “Come on, get up”, said Aisha, who had finally understood. With a great deal of difficulty, we finally got Anoop to his feet. “Now, hop like a bunny. Come on, like that”, said Numaa, pushing Anoop to the high end of the ‘plank’. Anoop took one step forward with his right leg, instead of hopping. That proved to be the wrong decision. “No!” wailed Numaa. “There goes my bra!” It all happened in a flash. One moment Numaa was with us, on the other side of the gorge, and the next moment she was dangling leg-first from the ‘plank’ (to be fair, it qualified as a log), trying to pry her bra from a falling Anoop’s mouth, the latter biting the right cup in an effort to remain airborne. “Let – it – go!” shouted Numaa desperately, looking as though she was clinging on for dear life. Anoop had a look of pure terror on his face. Numaa’s good leg slipped and Anoop gave way. With a distinct ‘SLOP!’ Numaa landed on Anoop’s stomach, her wet bra now in her hands, and Anoop in the garbage and the mud, his hair covered with dirt. His breaths came in heavy highs and lows. “I’ll – kill – you – bastards!” he finally said. Numaa gingerly got off of Anoop, and dusted herself. “My shoes will be kept outside the house for an entire week”, sighed Numaa. “You might want to get up. Your blazer saved your shirt, but you might need to do something about your pant. Oh, and one more thing. Don’t you ever dare touch my crotch again”, she added, slapping Anoop on the cheek. “Oh when I tell Cyriac, you guys are so busted!” spat Anoop, his face contorted with a mixture of fury and near-asphyxiation. “If you’ll tell Cyriac, you’ll get into trouble too”, pointed out Johnny. “He’ll ask you why the hell you were out of class without permission from a teacher, during a period.” “I’ll be a hero”, he hissed, and he distinctly reminded me of David Tennant in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. “Yeah, a filth-covered, suspended hero”, said Numaa, who had finally managed to climb back up, and was at the low end of the gorge. “So, what are you going to do? Leave me here to die, unless someone comes and finds me, in which case you’re almost certainly screwed?!” asked Anoop. “If you don’t cooperate with us, then regretfully we would have to do that. Your choice. Stay here and die, or just get your blazer drycleaned. It’s all in black and white, my friend”, said Johnny. “Oh, alright. Just this once then”, said Anoop, finally giving up. In the distance, we heard the school bell. The first of Chummi’s double chemistry periods was over. We now proceeded to pull Anoop onto the distal end of the ‘plank’. Surprisingly, it didn’t take much effort. I held Anoop’s right hand, and we all formed a human chain, and pulled hard. Finally, when Anoop’s feet hit the tree’s bark, we walked slowly, Anoop’s right hand in mine, and his left hand in Kawaljeet’s. It seemed like forever, but finally we were at the high, proximal end of the gorge, and had returned to the ‘safe’ part of the jungle. “Y’know Anoop, if you stopped being such an asshole at times, you could actually be a nice friend to us”, I said. “Just promise us that you won’t tell anybody about this. This whole event never happened. You do this and ask anything sane in return. Capiche?” “Well,” said Anoop, “I do fancy some of Peter’s burgers. I still haven’t finished my tiffin, so if you guys want, you can eat it too”, he said. “Ok”, said Kawaljeet, always happy at the prospect of free food.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Numaa-Ish Excerpt 1: Chapters 1-3



Chapter 1You know, Parth can be quite a pest. I mean, my inbox was literally flooded with texts from him, begging me to tell him my twisted love story with my Muslim wife Numaa. He was intrigued by the marriage between a Hindu and a Muslim, and he probably was low on XXX or something. Whatever the case, he had asked me probably a million times about it (once even when Numaa was making iced tea for the two of us and our unwelcome visitor). It had even come to literally throwing him out of the house. But he didn’t give up. Finally, one day I met him at The Hideout Club and Restaurant, and imagine my surprise when he broke down crying! He needed something to write about, partially because he wanted some hard cash and recognition as an author, and partially because he wanted to reconcile with his ex or something. Whatever the case, after probably a million tears, three pouty looks, and four forcefully offered vodkas straight, I told him my story, while he made notes in what looked like some sort of diary. So here’s my story, warped way out of proportion and written for your entertainment by Parthasarathi Singh, and told through the eyes, ears and perspective of yours truly – Ishan Mukherjee. Let’s start where all love stories first start – when I first met her. I was born in Bangalore, and much of my early childhood years were spent there. When I was six years old, my father jumped ship and came to Roorkee, the place that was to be my place of residence for almost a decade. It was 2001 when I came to Roorkee, and I must admit that even in my childhood years, I noticed that it was significantly different from Bangalore. My father soon became a professor in IIT, while my mother continued the profession that she and Dad had started in Bangalore – selling mobiles. As a result of my high-class upbringing in IIT Roorkee and Bangalore, and my mother’s adeptness as a businesswoman, I had never had a lack of anything. I was the spoiled brat of IITR, not even acknowledging my own empire of wealth. Not long after we moved to IITR, I was enrolled in Roorkee’s most prestigious institution, erstwhile St. Gabriel’s Academy, now known as ‘Army Public School No. 2’. I still remember the day I was scribbling my pencil like an idiot at the back of my copy, in the third grade, when she walked in. “Numaa Rahman, new student”, the teacher, Supriya ma’am announced. I looked at her once. And again. Yep, she was definitely one of those girls who had a billionaire father or something. Her long, braided hair flowed upto her chest, with one curl dominant over the others. She had a cute face, I guess, but then who wasn’t cute in the third grade? “Please have a seat here, in the middle row”, Supriya ma’am said, gesturing somewhere in the middle row, the beam audible and apparent in her perfect voice. I heard a low rumble, and looked up. Huh? I thought. For some reason, Supriya ma’am had seated Miss Perfect next to me, the most brilliant and yet most talkative student of the class. “Hi”, I said in a low voice, trying to be polite. “Hello”, she replied, eyeing me critically. “I’m Numaa Rahman. And you are?” She stretched out her free left hand as her right hand moved to her head to shove a curl off her face. “I’m Ishan Mukherjee. Pleasure to meet you”, I said, shaking her hand warmly. She gave me a WTF-are-you-doing? look, and I wondered what I’d done wrong. She pulled back her hand hesitantly. Maybe she’d expected me to kiss it. Who knows? “So, how’re you liking the school?” I asked to make conversation. “The school in Hyderabad was way better than this, but it’s good, I guess”, she replied. Then however, our conversation was interrupted, as Supriya ma’am wrote a three-digit multiplication question on the blackboard. Numaa looked visibly baffled (as were most of the students of the class). I however, had already done three-digit multiplications before. “How am I supposed to do this?” she asked me, even as Supriya ma’am asked the class to maintain silence. I sighed. This was gonna be a long day. “Let me show you”, I told her. I wrote down the question at the third-last page of my copy, and in a hurried scrawl, solved it. “Hmm…”, she wondered out loud. “So you carry two over there, and then you make two crosses here to mark two zeroes. Doesn’t look so hard.” She then closed my copy, and solved the question on her own. The answer was, of course 19470, which she got. “The first student to solve this question on the blackboard will get a chocolate”, the teacher offered. As I sat there, gawking at Numaa’s copy like an idiot, I saw her raising her hand in my peripheral vision. “Yes, Numaa”, Supriya ma’am called out. Baffled, I looked up to see Numaa prancing towards the blackboard. She solved the question in big, bold numerals for the whole class to see, and I just sat there. I tried to ignore ‘Miss Perfect’ after that. When it was the recess, she caught up with me, as I moved through the pavement to the junior section park, fuming visibly in the cloudy weather, clutching my tiffin like an eagle. “Hey, are you alright?” she said, coming up from behind me, startling me. “No, I’m not. I solved that question first, not you. It’s just not fair that you get the chocolate”, I complained. “Hey, come on, I couldn’t have solved it without you! And besides, I haven’t even opened the chocolate yet. Let’s share”, she offered. I looked at her face, for any signs of smugness, but all I saw was the innocence that had been on my face not five minutes ago. “All right”, I said reluctantly. “But first let me eat my tiffin.” I opened it to find an unwelcome smell. “Ugh! Emergency dosa with white chutney! I hate!” was my reaction. But she eyed my food with a wide-eyed look. “Dosa? Wow!” she exclaimed. And she opened her own tiffin and looked up with a frown on her face. “What did you bring?” I asked, curiously. “Fish pakoda”, she sighed. “Yum! I love fish!” I said, delightfully. “I don’t”, she said. “I don’t like fish at all. I only like chicken, mutton and a little bit of octopus.” “At least it’s better than this stuff”, I said, pointing to my tiffin, trying to cheer her up. “Let’s exchange”, she offered. “Yes!” I said, mentally pumping my fist. Suddenly, it started to rain, which was not uncalled for, since the weather had been cloudy since the morning. “Oh God! It’s raining. My perfect hairstyle will be destroyed!” she moaned. I don’t know what made me do it, but I closed my tiffin, and clutched her outstretched hand, running towards the outside of the classroom, where my umbrella was kept. Most of the other kids were still playing outside. “You know, I don’t mind the rain, but when I’ve done my hair, it’s really not so good”, she admitted. I offered my umbrella, but she placed it simultaneously on both of our heads, and we marched to the stairs of the stage, and sat down to enjoy each other’s meal. That was really the first time I opened up to her, and it was really a special moment in my life, although I didn’t know it at the time. Eating half of a Cadbury Dairy Milk with Numaa was really the beginning of our friendship. After that, well, we pretty much became besties, helping each other with our respective homeworks, playing together in the park, and exchanging tiffins. In time, our parents met each other, and it actually turned out that my Dad and Numaa’s Dad used to be classmates in high school, so we got along pretty well. Both of our families had the broad, open-minded outlook, that most of Roorkee’s small town citizens seemed to lack (no offence to anyone intended). Life was perfect with my new best friend.

7 YEARS LATER





Chapter 2


It was the tenth grade. Sitting in my seat, two rows across from Numaa, listening to the incessant rambling of the math teacher Charlie, I stared out the window, waiting for the math period to end, when the bastard came up to me. “Stand up, ye scurvy!” he barked. “What in the name of Jesus’s apostles are yeh doing staring out the window? Not interested in studies? Wastin’ yer time all day, staring at girls, studyin’ physics and English in me period. Go and stand in the corridor scalliwag! Today’s kids…” And then he concluded by moving to the blackboard and writing down the solution to some hitherto unknown question. I shrugged, and went to stand in the corridor. Mercifully, the bell rang ten seconds later. Charlie stormed out of the class, pausing only to threaten me with a “Next time yeh do this type of nonsensical business in me class, I’m gonna call yer parents!” I, of course, just said “Sorry sir”, and went back into the class. When Charlie was out of earshot, however, I muttered “Son of a gun” under my breath. “Geez, this is the third time Charlie made you stand in the corridor. You’d think students just don’t get marks in Charlie’s formatives!” (our generation was the first to witness the CCE pattern proposed by the very respectable Kapil Sibal) said my ‘best friend’ who was now a 5 feet 11 inch tall beauty. Maybe it was because I had seen her growing up, or maybe because I just wasn’t interested, I didn’t think of Numaa in a lecherous manner. I had been Friendzoned Level 98 accordingly (they said it’s Level 99 when she changes her clothes in front of you, but doesn’t date you). “Huh, I guess I really need to catch up to that old codger!” I ejaculated. “You can do it, Ish. I know you’ll ace these formatives”, she said, winking at me. Again, at the back of my mind, I noticed how beautiful she looked with her round face, large eyes, and braided hair. We sat through Garima’s chemistry period and Mrs K’s physics period, periodically glancing up at each other. In the recess, she confronted me. “So, you know, the formatives are about to end, and then it will be the summatives in March, three months later. Have you thought about which stream you want to take in the 11th grade?” she asked. “Huh?” I said, dazed at this sudden question. But then, recovering, I replied, “I wanna be a surgeon. You know, the type that removes tumours and performs CPR on patients? Dr Derek Stiles and Black Jack type?” I looked up at her, expecting her to take my words jokingly. There was a hint of a smile on her perfect face, but she just nodded. “So I figured, why not get a degree from MIT, Stanford or some Ivy League college? Yeah, I know it’s kinda farfetched, but you’ve gotta set your goals high, right?” I looked up again, to see how she’d react. She just nodded again. “So I’m taking Bio-Math. What about you?” “Me?” she asked, surprised. “I’m going for Bio-Math too. It’s genetic engineering for me.” I don’t know why, but I wanted to say, “You have the potential to be a freakin’ supermodel!” but didn’t. She seemed to catch my drift, because she laughed out loud, and said, “I know, I know, I’m too hot to be a nerd-type, right?” I then realized that I was staring at her. “You know, there might well be a time when we’ll laugh at all these moments – Charlie’s rambling, Raj’s stupidity and Sid’s epic fails at flirting”, I said, trying to change the topic. “Ha, like people aren’t making fun of Charlie’s rambling right now!” she roared, laughing, obviously agreeing with me. “So, you gonna open your tiffin or not?” she asked, gesturing towards my Tupperware tiffin. “Not here”, I told her in a low voice. But before I could utter another word, however, Anoop, a grotesque boy with a round head and medium height leapt and grabbed my tiffin. “I’ll take that!” he boomed loudly. I made a deprecating noise. “I’ll go and get it”, promised Numaa. I eyed her with some doubt. She went upto Anoop, batting her eyelashes. “Hey Anoooop?” she said in a flirtatious voice. “Yeah?” he asked, apparently flattered, confused and dazed at the same time. The audible groan that came out of Anoop’s mouth as Numaa’s knee hit his groin is probably one of the most memorable things to have happened with me in the 10th grade. The tiffin fell into Numaa’s waiting hands. “Next time bring your own tiffin, faggot!” Numaa spat at him. And with that, she bounded back to me. “Here you go”, she said with a smile. “Boy, that was fun”, I commented. “But you didn’t need to hit him so hard. You almost castrated him. And ‘faggot’? Wow, I never knew you were so badass.” Ignoring the ribbing, she said, “Hey, don’t forget, your tiffin is mine as well!” laughing. “Now let’s see what you’ve got.” “First, you open your tiffin”, I teased. “Alright Mr Hungry Hippo. Here goes nothing”, she taunted. Her face was creased in – distress? – as she opened her tiffin. “What is it?” I asked. “Seek kebabs. My mom doesn’t make them as well as the dhaba guy.” “Wow! Yum! I love kebabs!” I ejaculated, salivating already. “Whoa whoa whoa, not so fast! Now you open your tiffin!” I opened the Tupperware tiffin to find a delicious but foreboding smell. “Chhole Bhature!” I exclaimed, handing over the tiffin to Numaa. “My taste buds are about to be ravaged by the extreme spices Mom puts in! Here, you can have it.” “But I thought you loved Chhole Bhature!” said Numaa, incredulously. “Not the one my mother makes. The chhole are a tad too spicy for me. Here, give me those kebabs.” – Numaa handed me her tiffin – “Blimey Numaa, I’m a Bong. You’d think I’d actually bring some Bengali food in my tiffin.” “Actually,” she said, a smile playing across the edges of her lips. “you did once. The day after the day we met.” The mental ‘FUUUUUUUU’ rage face in my head was almost audible.


Chapter 3
So, the next day was Charlie’s math formative. An air of foreboding seemed to envelope the entire class. People’s pens were frantically scratching over their copies to finish their pending work. ‘Copy de BC (Give me the goddamn copy, nigga!)!’ and ‘Y u no give me the glue?’ could be heard as clear as day. Charlie was usually an inscrutable bastard, but his recursive algorithm during formatives was very clear – if the student has completed all of his/her work, smile (or smirk) and award him/her some marks accordingly, and if the work is not complete, let the whole goddamn world know by sharply rebuking that student. Nobody had the guts to stand up to Charlie. So you can easily imagine the trepidation that gripped me. Charlie was known for his temper, and I was known for generally unattractive diagrams in the Mathematics Activity notebook. Numaa, however, seemed to be positively shaking with fear. Her entire body was trembling, and her countenance was that of one who has seen a ghost. I looked at her, gesticulating to ask her what the hell was wrong with her. She just shook her head and put on one of her brave poker faces. Just then, that almost bald son of Belial, Charlie, entered with a stoic look on his face, and, understandably, the tension in the room mounted considerably. About only half of the class stood up and said “Good morning Sir!” in unison. “Good mornin’ students. Sit down. Alrighty then, let’s start the formative”, he said with a momentary supercilious glance at those who hadn’t stood up to greet him. I took one look at my Activity Notebook, and I sort of knew I was a goner. I had all of my copies at the ready when my name was called out. “Next, Ishan Mukherjee”. I looked up, walking out very slowly, nudging my neighbour, Kawaljeet, to make way for me. As I walked towards his desk, I felt oblivious to my fate, and I had a spring in my step. “Right here, sir”, I said. I handed him my copies one by one. He paused while perusing my homework copy. “I must say, I’m mighty impressed, kid. Yeh’ve outdone yerself. Didn’t expect yeh to complete all of yer work on time, and that too all correct.” I was absolutely sure that he wouldn’t say the same thing after looking through my Mathematics Activity notebook. I was right. “As usual, mighty dirty work in this copy. Go back tuh yer seat. Next, Johnny Fernandez.” After Javed Bashir, Junaid Shekhawat, Kawaljeet and Malvika Chattopadhyay, it was Numaa’s turn to go. “Next, Numaa Rahman.” “Y-yes sir”, said Numaa, fumbling with her copies. I noticed that she didn’t have her Mathematics Activity notebook with her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed. “Where’s yer Activity notebook?” barked Charlie. “S-sir, I-I forgot it at home, b-but my work is c-c-complete...” “Shut up! No Mathematics Activity notebook, no passing grade. Now go back tuh yer seat. Kids these days...” And I fancy I heard him saying, “Bloody skank” or something apparently filthier. Numaa walked back slowly to her seat behind me, looking visibly crestfallen. By some strange miracle, just then the bell rang for recess. As most of the population of the class rushed out into the fresh air (even Anoop was too mortified to swoop down on my tiffin), Numaa came and sat next to me, and broke into tears. “I-Ish, I b-blew it! Charlie’s gonna fail me. He’s probably already put a red ‘F’ next to my name.” And after that point, her sobbing rendered her words incoherent. “Hey, don’t cry. Remember, if you have your copy with you and show it to him in the period just after the recess, not even Cyriac (our principal) can fail you.” “B-but that is the p-problem, Ish! I don’t have my copy with me right now. If he doesn’t get my copy, he will fail me! God save me!” I rolled my eyes (for I’m an atheist), and then put a reassuring hand on Numaa’s shoulder. “You ever heard about ninja buddies? What if we get that notebook back in time and then fling it in his bemused face?” Numaa stopped sobbing. She was all ears now. “Ninja buddies?” she asked, raising her tear-streaked eyebrow in a playful manner. “Yeah, partner. We go to CBRI, get the copy, and submit it to Charlie. He won’t know what hit him.” “Oh, Ish!” said Numaa, and then hugged me. She wiped her tears on her sleeves, and then the both of us picked up our bags. We ran downstairs like some sort of contract killer running after his quarry. Now, before I proceed any further, let me tell you something about our school. While it was still St. Gabriel’s Academy, our school had a jungle of sorts behind the school stage, and abutting the stage was a winding path that led through the undergrowth of the jungle to a usually locked gate that led out of the school and into CBRI. Of course, students who wished to enter CBRI would have to climb up and jump over it. So, anyway, as Numaa and I approached this gate, Numaa lobbed her school bag over the gate, and then climbed up to cross over to the other side. While she was doing all this, I happened to get more than a passing glance at her undies and her hips. They were really something to look at. But then I remembered that Numaa was my best friend, not my girlfriend, and I pushed all the dirty thoughts out of my mind. “Well, come on then!” she said urgently from the other side. I nodded once and, throwing my bag over to the other side, I jumped over the gate. Panting slightly, Numaa and I smiled at each other. Then I nodded once and said, “We’re ninjas, partner.” Numaa took my hand in her hand, and we walked briskly through CBRI. Finally we reached the rear gate of Numaa’s house. A plaque hanging somewhere indicated her father’s name – Farhan Malik. “You remember where you put it, don’t you?” I whispered. “Yes. It’s on my table.” she said. Entering ever so soundlessly through the rear gate, we reached the window of Numaa’s room. However, we had a debilitating conundrum before us. “Fuck! The windows are closed from inside!” On closer examination, we found that the window wasn’t latched. “If I can just open it, I can reach out and grab it from the table.” So I nudged the window open sufficiently for Numaa’s arm to enter. However, again a problem arose. It was as though it wasn’t Numaa’s day at all. The notebook was kept so far away on the table that Numaa’s hand couldn’t reach it. Fortunately, I had my metallic ruler with me. I groped into the depths of my bag, and pulled it out. “Allow me”, I said. Numaa nodded once and withdrew. I reached out with the ruler to the notebook, attempting to push it towards me. However, the book came even more near to the edge of the table. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Numaa’s dad appeared, and the Notebook took a precipitous path to the immaculate PVC floor. “Hello kids. It’s a little early for school to be out, isn’t it? What’s the matter?” he asked with a smile. Numaa head sank low, and she said, “I forgot my Mathematics Activity notebook at home.” “Well, that is a small problem that can be solved. You could have phoned me from school. So, where is it kept?” “It just fell off of my desk”, replied Numaa, plaintively. “I’ll get it”, said Mr Rahman. And with that he disappeared into the house, and returned not ten seconds later with the notebook. “Thanks Dad!” said Numaa, unzipping her bag and carefully placing the notebook inside. And then, when she took one look at her watch, her eyes went wide with I can’t say what emotion. “Oh shit! The recess is almost over. Come on Ish!” And as she grabbed my hand, we ran out faster than a cheetah on steroids.

Hey guys, so that's all for today. You might notice that some formatting (italics) is missing in some areas. That's partly because, unlike Wattpad, Blogger doesn't provide much room for preserving the original document's formatting, and partly because I've lost the original word document (it's on my HDD, which is no longer working with my lappie). If you happen to be a theist (ugh!) and a Hindu (double ugh!), happy Mahashivratri. Enjoy the holiday.