"The only choice we have is between accepting ignorance or living in denial."



























































That was his location - the hub of traffic - that open space just beyond the steps which everyone in the office took to reach the cafeteria. And everyone came to the cafeteria at least once a day, either for breakfast or lunch or a simple platonic coffee. He knew those peak hours when the crowd came and those were the hours he would man his location. His location was prime as all the cafeteria crowd passed through it and gave him an opportunity to watch his entire target group.
 
He was very experienced in this feat now. He would stand at his vantage point for hours watching over the ladies that came to the cafeteria, stealing glances, intently watching their eyes. Searching for those eyes that looked back at him, and trying to find an invitation in them. His office was full of single mothers and divorced ladies, and that was his target group.
 
Many of the ladies would invariably look at him - given the weird combination dress he wore to attract their attention. And when they looked, he knew which ones were weak, and he could pursue.
 
The strategy had worked for him many times and he had managed to get one-night stands with several ladies in the office. Yet it would not fill him, he still stood there and hungered for more. He had so much greed (read: libido) still alive in him...
 
He did not find any suitable ones today, so decided to cool it off and head back home. He would come back the next day and try again. There were always innocent ladies out there that he could prey on...
 
As he drove back home, the slow moving traffic irked him. He honked repeatedly to vent his anger, until he came to a traffic light. Now, this was one of those long-waiting traffic signals. So he shut down his car and waited.
 
As he waited, his eye fell upon a salesman, going from car to car, selling boxes of paper napkins. It seemed the guy was experienced, as he did not target the cars at random. He would stand at a vantage point and watch the drivers intently. That traffic junction was his location - the hub - where all traffic came to a halt and gave him an opportunity to watch his entire target group. The salesman somehow seemed to know which driver was weak enough to be pursued for a sale. He knew that amongst all the drivers in that traffic hub, there were always some weak ones that could be preyed upon. He seemed to have made some sale for the day, yet was greedy to pocket some more. So the salesman kept looking around...
 
He watched the salesman from inside his car and thought, "What a wretched existence! He seems strong in body and mind. He could very well have put it to good productive use, but look at him, doing such a useless job, running behind stupid individuals, trying to earn something that is so unsubstantial. Whatever he earns will only serve him for a night.. How temporary! huh!"
 
The salesman seemed to come towards him. He rolled up his car windows and began honking at the traffic.
 
 
 
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"So I just ported my number out.." said the dude on the call with his friend. "What do they think they are, man? Such a slow data connection. It takes ages to load pages. Browsing had become such a pain. And when I called the customer service they give those fake apologies..."
 
"Yeah totally agree dude," replied the friend, "their customer service is so pathetic these days."
 
"Yeah man!" said dude, "These guys don't understand our generation man. We are the fast paced dudes. We can't wait like our boring parents did. Whatever we need, we need it here and now. If I need a song, it has to play right away. If my friend post on Facebook, I need to get the update immediately, else we fall behind man."
 
"Seriously dude. I don't know how our parents waited in those long queues and spent weeks waiting for their letters to reach home. They really wasted their lives."
 
"We are the 'Now' generation man. Whatever we need, we need it right 'Now'. Those customer service guys better get that. Else they wont stay in business for long. Okay I gotto go now man. The show is back on TV. Bye now!"
 
And dude got back to the TV.
 
"Son, have you finished that assignment that dad was guiding you for?" shouted his mom from the kitchen.
 
"There's still time ma. I will wrap it up over the weekend."
 
"Okay! what about your tomorrow's test. Did you finish revising for it?"
 
"Ma! I shall do it later. Will you please let me watch the TV? Why do you have to bring up everything right 'Now'? Damn!"
 
Dude upped the volume and immersed himself into the TV show.
 
 
 
 
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"It's time to sleep my son," said the father, trying not to be stern with his boy who kept working on his school project late into the night. "I admire your interest and passion, but please don't ignore your health dear."
 
"But this is my favourite project papa," replied the son.
 
"I know, and that is why I let you work an hour past bedtime. Enough now. You still have time to submit it right?" inquired the father, "so why do you want to finish everything in one night dear?"

"I am the one who always submits the project first. I want to impress my teacher again, so I want to finish it..." the son continued working
 
Upset, the father strode into the room, tugged on his son's shoulder and pulled him to bed. "You should listen to daddy. C'mon get into bed now. You can finish the rest of it tomorrow. I know having a good impression is nice, but keeping good health is more important than that. There is no future without health my son."

The son was forced into bed, covers draped, goodnights wished, and lights switched off.
 
Dad then hurried back to his room, where an office conference call was waiting for him. It was his project team back in India. He sat in front of the laptop and addressed his project team. They had slipped on a deliverable and he was upset at them.
 
"Sir. We are working hard to wrap up well before the deadline. There were some setup issues which delayed us, else we could have finished it yesterday," said the team lead on the call.
 
"Don't give me those last minute excuses. You know we had discussed about surprising the client with an advanced delivery, didn't we? I don't wish to miss out on that chance. Can you finish it by your end of day today? That is my tomorrow morning?" asked the stern father.
 
"But sir, that gives us just a few hours into our day time. We will need a few more hours than that. Can we get two days please?"
 
"Why don't you get it man? If we delight the client, it brings so much more work for us. Impression is everything in our careers man. Look, I can only get you a day. Worst case, I want it by evening my time."
 
"Okay sir, that would mean we have one day and one night for us. Fine! I think we can do it. I will ask the guys to work the whole night. Should that be fine sir?"
 
"Yeah, please do that. Tell them to do some sacrifice. It's good for their future itself. And by the way, days and nights don't matter in the offshoring model. We live in a flat world now; where the flight of man goes beyond the cycles of Nature... So I will expect your mail latest by my evening tomorrow. Have a nice day. Bye" and father closed the call.
 
 
 
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Ever since her husband had deserted her, right in the first few days of their marriage, probably for another woman, Vinodini had not trusted another man. She would roar in disgust anytime a man came anywhere in her vicinity. It was like she had an allergy for them - those hairy creatures that stank of lust.
 
She saw men as dragons breathing the fire of lust.
 
As a result of her hatred towards men, Vinodini ended up becoming a part apart. She could not venture out into the market where men would brush past her every moment, could not visit her relatives as there wasn't a house in her village without men, and could not even join those of the gossiping housewives - because they mostly talked about their men.
 
The village saw her hatred for men as overindulgence, dismissed her as a cantankerous outcast and banished her from their social circles. Thankfully they did not go so far as to brand her a witch.
 
Vinodini liked her peace and solitude. She lived, happily, in that shanty on the edge of town surviving on the berries she gathered in the forest and with a little income that she earned by selling handmade incense sticks to women in her area. She slept hungry most of the nights, but still did not complain as it was easier to tolerate the pangs of her own hunger than being forced to satisfy the hunger of  male flesh.
 
On some nights she would wake up with a scare when she heard swishing and rustling outside the door. "What if its one of those drunk men?" She knew that sane men avoided her vicinity due to fear of her loud temper and shame for her unkempt looks. But the drunks could never be trusted. There was a liquor shop on the hillock and drunk men hovered around in the evenings, ogling at the women of the village. They would ogle at Vinodini too. She always made it a point to get indoor by afternoon and locked herself up till midnight. And then an hour before dawn, she would venture out in the dark to relieve herself and wash up. That was the best she could do to stay out of the radar of male lust.
 
For the villagers, Vinodini never really existed. She was like a tree - or more appropriately some weed - that grew in the forest. She did not bother them, and they did not care about her.
 
Until one day, some villagers caught a strange smell emanating from a pit in the forest. When they investigated, they found Vinodini's body lying in a pool of blood. She had been killed, right in the spot where she daily went in the dark to relieve herself. The police came and asked if anybody wanted to investigate the cause of her death. None intervened. After a brief silence, they dumped some mud and leaves in the pit and left Vinodini to rot in her own shit...
 
Many centuries ago a great saint from India, called Shankara, had logically proved that human soul is in a cycle of birth and death. It is unjust, he had said, that humans are born unequal. So if there has to be justice, then all have to get the same birth at some point, thus there has to be rebirth. It had probably missed Shankara's eye that, just like in birth, there can be great injustice in death too.

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In memory of Vinodini, who passed away few days back. They found her body nearly four days after she had been killed. The body was gagged, with its hands and legs tied, and had badly decomposed. In a society that gagged Vinodini's spirit and tied down its flight, it is possible that her soul had decomposed much earlier.


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If you had chosen someone over me, I would never have come back to you for any help. Even if I was dying.
That is how much I respect myself.


If you had chosen someone over me, I would still be there to help you.
Even if I was dying.
That is how much my love respects itself...
 
 

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