17 August 2007

Paranormal (Factional Short Story)

Peer in! In the middle gulley, on a series of stones, we sat speaking of new world affairs. We are the children who live in this three-storey, three-block apartments. If you enter through the main gate, you can see the red paint on white that reads, ‘Saravana Priya Apartments, K.K. Nagar.’ Ramu patted me on the back and said, “Anita is not well guys. She has been vomiting all night. Uncle says she must be taken to the doctor today.” Kousi interrupted in a sad tone, “My brother is also not well. Amma tells me it is the new Malaria virus. She is planning to send me to Paati’s house.” Aisha exclaimed, “What say? A new detective agency to arrest the Malaria virus seems a good idea! Nets would be perfect weapons.” The high walls of the gulley were filled with laughter and excitement. Decisions were being made. Ramu will be the chief detective, because he was the smallest one who could squiggle through the holes in the terrace doors that were always locked. Parents thought we were mischievous. “Won’t we need gas chambers to put them in?” I asked, till then sitting on the highest stone like a Queen hearing a day’s court proceedings. I received absolute applause and agreement. On this drizzling September morning, a new girl arrived. She wore a brand new blue frock, and got off a magnificent black Fiat. Without hesitance, I ran up to her and introduced myself, “I’m Sam.” With the confidence of an eagle she replied, “I’m Selvi.” I think it was her mother who made her play with us. Her ancient life and new blue frock became the world affair. I was waddling in similar excitement until Kousi broke the thread of the story. “Guys, Malaria is caused by mosquitoes,” she said. “Then nets are good weapons,” reassured Aisha. When I was just into a stream of laughter, Ramu patted me harder this time, “Then we don’t need gas chambers.” Anita’s brother, who was till then doing some homework, came and sat next to me. We called him Shiv. “You guys lack imagination. For all the mosquitoes caught on the same day, no other way to kill them, but gas chambers. We have our very own Hitler here.” No one understood him and nodded in agreement, but I have heard of Hitler. Normally, that statement would have irritated me, instead I smiled. It was only his homework that I never managed to do. He never asked me to do it. He wouldn’t even ask me to draw margins, or go to the shop and buy him charts, some of the usual chores I did for all the children. The problem was that my new school refused to give me homework. Unfortunately, I loved writing answers, essays, match the following, fill ups, and all those mundane notebooks of Lessons. So, I sat and did homework for all the other children. Shiv would often tell me not to do such a thing, but how long can I sit at home when everyone else is in the magical world of words. Soon, things diverted back to Selvi. She was now showing us all a trick. She locked both of her hands and twisted her arms all the way back. She rotated her arm an alarming 360 degrees only to have them back in their normal place. What a heroine! Everyone was now displaying talents. Ramu rode the bicycle without his legs. Kousi pulled out the skin under her eyelids. Her brother Kesi, who was now sitting with us, showed us crazy sounds he could make with his armpit. They acted as if they were the new Superman, Spiderman, and Fantastic Four of this world. They wore their mother’s saris like cloaks and pretended to fly. They all changed into various costumes to make themselves crazy superheroes. Shiv did nothing, but just the fact that he was older than us, made him paranormal. And I just sat and watched. “Aren’t you going to do anything?” He whispered into my left ear as he nudged me. I repeatedly nodded that I wasn’t so powerful. In the speed of the events, our news reporter Kousi had yet another brimming story. “In China, the Satan child has been born. The baby had two horns. It had ‘666’ written on its scalp. They say this world already has one more Satan’s child. The only way to identify is to see the brand on their scalp.” I felt Shiv’s hand on me. He was feeling through my head. “You have horns. Oh my God! You have 666 written on your head.” Everyone nodded feverishly in approval. Some hadn’t even looked at my head. Selvi got scared of me and refused to speak. The night fell on us, and I went back to my house on the third floor. After my night shower, I asked my mother to browse through my hair and see if there is anything unusual on my scalp. In her everyday tone, she said, “No lice. No dandruff. What is the problem? Are you itching?” “No! Amma, tell me if you can see 666 written on my head.” She dismissed this with a laugh and held the mirror in a weird angle, so that I could have a look. I could see no mark on my scalp, except a mole that has been there forever. Next morning, Shiv was sitting on the Kousi’s thinnai*. I sat next to him and told him I have no 666 written on my head. He mocked, “Are you sure?” Angrily I walked out of his sight and called for Kousi. She came out in a banian, with her mother. “Look at my head properly. Is there 666 written on it?” I wished she would say yes. I always wanted to be a super hero. I don’t care if it is pure power or the devils’. I have power. She has to say yes. She did not say anything. Kousi’s mother shouted at us. “Speak of no devil. Hear of no devil. See no devil. Who was the preposterous fool who told you that? Don’t act abnormal, child. I will tell your mother. You kids are scaring Sam. Foolish! Pathetic…” she bellowed as she went into the house dragging Kousi. I laughed and came back and sat with Shiv. He had a silly smile on his face and kept shaking his head from one side to the other. “I know you want to have that 666 on your head.” I was shaken by his guess. Before I could decide to agree, “You are a loner,” he said and jumped off the thinnai to go back home. I did not come to play the whole day. Shiv and Kousi came home. They got to know I had fever. They sat with me for sometime, but for the fear of them catching the illness, my mother asked them to leave. I lay down in the center of the room. I had a chilling eau de cologne cloth on my forehead and an Enid Blyton omnibus to read. I read that whole night, but the same words rang through my ears, “You are a loner.” I am. I will always be. There is nothing I enjoy more. I am the only loner with the power to charm people. I am the only loner who can enjoy people. I have the power to laugh. I have the power to cry. I have the power to be vulnerable. I have the power to imagine. I am a loner. I am a kid who loves her own company. I am kid who loves everyone around me. The morning dawned too quickly for my thoughts, but I had sweated out my fever. Once again the world below my tower became mine. I ran down the stairs and sat with the others. When I saw Shiv, I ran up to him, and hugged him. I heard a few gasps from the others. Before I could release myself, I felt his arms around me. I’ll tell you all when I become an ordinary supernatural, because I know needn’t change for it. I can fly without a cloak. 

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