Sound reverberated across the room, dispatching the quiet that had resided there most of the night. The sound frivolously leapt from one wall to another: playfully sometimes, as if it were a game, and sometimes purposefully, as if it were being paid to do so. This lasted for less than a quarter of a second, for sound is an energetic entity keen to spend its load. And then it burst, like a firecracker does in the night sky, splitting into several small fragments. These fragments, like little fish, feeling rather insignificant, and rightly so, scurried around fearfully. They were afraid they might die out! One little sound-tyke, looking for a nook to hide, dived into Raghav’s ear. It then proceeded to live out its destiny – it diminished and died. Other little sounds followed suit, and all of this happened in just over a second.
Sound is indeed an energetic entity keen to spend its load.
That little sound-tyke, the one that dived into Raghav’s ear, achieved its purpose, though it never knew what its purpose was. Providence isn’t quite the guardian it is expected to be. If the little sound had been told what its purpose was before it died, it might have died a happy death, for knowing that you’ve achieved the purpose of your existence has a tendency to take your mind off the fact that you’re dying. Not knowing this, it died without a thought, possibly because it lived and died so fast that it couldn’t have pondered its existence, but more probably because it was incapable of thought. Immaterial though it may seem, taking into account the tragic reality of the death of the little sound, its purpose was to convey to Raghav that someone was knocking on the door.
It was 5 A.M. in the morning, and someone who either didn’t have nightlife, or had a really enviable one had just knocked on Raghav’s door. Our martyr, the little sound, had tickled a particularly flexible little bump inside Raghav’s ear, and rudely shaken, it shook a lot more and ticked off a nerve-end further inside Raghav’s head. Nerves are always on an edge, and are regularly ticked off by ill-mannered bumps and tissues. They believe that it is in their nature to be ticked off, and workmanlike, they go about their duty of transferring messages to their lord and master- the spinal cord, the son of Brain. Nerves, though regularly ticked off by uncouth sensory organs, usually go about their job quietly and effectively. But it was 5 A.M. and even Nerves need a break. Pissed off, it pressed the emergency switch inside Raghav’s head, and Raghav woke up with a shock.
Raghav’s brain, and thus his mind, had been in a totally different universe. It was in fact, on a merry go round, one that had existed 16 years ago on the vast open grounds of Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School, Humayun Road, New Delhi; the one near Hotel Taj Mansingh. It chose, however, to ignore the eagles that plied the skies above those very grounds, in search of easy prey in the form of a sandwich in some child’s hands.
While he slept, Raghav, feeling hot, had felt like eating something cold, which his brain decided, had to be ice cream; in particular – chocolate ice cream. But, since he was asleep, he couldn’t get any. So his brain had signalled to his memory to look up situations when he had felt deprived of ice cream. Faced with innumerable instances, it chose the one in which he had felt most deprived of ice cream and decided to make him feel just as deprived.
While he had been on his merry-go-round, his siblings – sister Rhea and elder brother Rahul had gobbled up his share of ice cream, which was all chocolate. He was unable to get off the merry go round and wailed until and after the ride ended. His brain had reproduced this same situation for him. Only – it had overreacted, like brains usually do. Raghav now found himself on a merry go round that was going twice as fast as before, and his siblings gobbling up ten times the ice cream. As this scene was replayed in his head, he mouthed several agitated No!’s in slow motion. He smiled only when he noticed that the merry-go-round had slowed down to a halt, and that his siblings had vanished. Before him, as he dismounted his plastic steed, were several ice cream cones (he hadn’t learnt to count beyond 20 yet). Excited, as his tongue encircled the periphery of his lips, he ran towards the ice cream cones in agonising slow-motion. He was just about to sink his teeth into a tempting chocolate scoop when the nerve end woke him up, which wasn’t a bad thing because he was about to sink his teeth viciously into his thumb.
So Raghav, rudely awakened and surprised to find that his thumb had hit his right nostril, blinked twice before looking askance out his window at the streetlight. Light emanating from the streetlight outside his window flickered as it hopped, skipped and jumped about in three different dimensions at the same time; not giving much of a damn about Raghav’s desire for ice cream, or for that matter, about some vague fourth dimension that existed only in the abstract thoughts of Jewish-American physicists.
Numerous cones of ice rotated round and round in front of Raghav’s eyes, until finally Raghav’s hands left his sides and he rubbed his eyes. Shielding his eyes from the light, Raghav turned right, to look at the alarm clock on the small table beside his bed. The hands of the clock, working laboriously 24×7 indicated that it was 5 A.M.
It was hot and Raghav’s throat was dry, but when his gaze shifted towards the refrigerator in the corner of the room, there were only three things on his mind – Chocolate, Ice Cream and Chocolate Ice Cream. Still, lazy as he was, he contemplated making the effort of walking up to the refrigerator taking out the unopened plastic tub of Chocolate.
“Thud,” came the sound this time.
The nerve inside Raghav’s head, an important cog in the sensory wheel, was not so irritated anymore. It politely requested his brain to tell his neck to turn his face left.
“Who is it?” asked Raghav, though not legibly. He held his tonsil and cleared his throat before asking again: “Who is it?’
On receiving no response, Raghav got up and opened the door. On the floor lay his neighbour, Vineet, with eyes shut and vodka-laden breath escaping his half open mouth. After retrieving the room keys from the inebriated Vineet’s shirt pocket, Raghav dragged him into the room and with much difficulty, pulled and then pushed him onto the bed.
Raghav heard a faint “Huh? Wha…uhh…Whe…uhh…” as he shut the door. He yawned and then went right back into his own apartment, and got himself the chocolate ice cream out of the refrigerator.
Nikhil, 23, Delhi, claims that people still remain slaves to their desires, even though they achieve some degree of independence while progressing from childhood to adulthood.