Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Days of Terror – 2nd Part

9:30 pm to 5:00 am, 27th and 28th December ‘07

It was dinner time. The television was open: the news channels cloaked in lurid red headlines confirming the horrid news that Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated. There was a strange silence prevalent in the room – nobody wanted to talk. It still seemed so unreal, even though more than two hours had passed since the news had broke.

We were having dinner in silence, when the telephone rang.

Baba went to pick up the phone. He talked for more than half an hour.

Grim news had been delivered to him by an Uncle of ours. My school had been set on fire. All the restaurants – KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds were smoldering in flames. State Life Corporation building had been torched, the blaze scorching the contents of the massive building. Hundreds of automobiles were crushed into smithereens and set ablaze. Scores of banks were looted and the ATM machines ruined to extricate money from them. Dozens of shops were razed. People were being killed for no reason whatsoever. Carnage had swept into streets and Hyderabad burnt like a hell-hole.

Reality descended on us and fell heavy on our shoulders. Everything from hotels to automobiles to shops to schools had been scorched. Schools like City School and Beaconhouse School System [mine] had been raided, computers were stolen and records were charred by fire.

Time stretched into hours and everyone waited. As far as I remember, it was a wait for more dreadful news. A wait that was tortuous, that brought with it a sharp tingling agony.

And then it came.

My would-be brother-in-law was trapped in Liaquat University Hospital, Jamshoro. Jamshoro or famously known as University Town is home to three of Sind’s best universities – Sind University, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology [MUET] and Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences [LUMHS]. My brother-in-law was on duty in the LUH, when the news of Benazir Bhutto’s death reached there.

He couldn’t come back to Hyderabad, which was at half-an-hour’s distance from Jamshoro, because groups of anguished men clustered on the main roads, in wait to devastate more vehicles. He had tried once, but the attempt had failed as men with guns had started to pursue him, firing intermittently. And so he was trapped in LUH, with no prospect of returning home in near future.

This incarceration in LUH caused much anxiety in our house. Unbridled fear now wafted in the atmosphere of the rooms. How can you not fear when your loved ones were out there in the bloodbath that poured in the streets? How can you not worry when you know your loved ones are not closeted in the safety of their homes? Fear was imminent in the circumstances that had unfolded so terrifyingly.

My parents were calling our relatives in Karachi and Hyderabad to ascertain their safety. My Chacha could not return home and had to stay at the house of his Boss. Thankfully, other relatives were safe at their places or had found refuge elsewhere in homes of their friends and colleagues.

More calls were made.

It was found out that clusters of cars had flocked outside the main gate of DMCHS [Diplai Memon Cooperative Society] and basked in the safety of its location as DMCHS is located far from the main road and has fool-proof security. Most of the cars were of the employees of Rajputana Hospital which is built beside the main road. Although the cars were not allowed inside the colony, yet food was provided to the stranded people as there had been in a wedding in the Lawn of DMCHS and since nobody had come to the wedding due to the anarchic state of the city and the food had been prepared – hence, it was distributed among the people. What a fateful coincidence!

I got online and got to know the astonishing details of how my school had been set on flames from some of my friends who lived near the school.

A lorry – mark my words, a lorry – loaded with a huge iron column rammed the gate of the school open. The riotous crowd entered the school and after plundering the offices at the ground floor, proceeded to torch the school bus. I must mention here, that the school bus was somewhat of a relic and had been in service of the school since its inception some thirty years back. It is said that it burned spectacularly and died the death of a martyr. The security cameras in the school were also smashed – and something that still amazes me that the people were so desperate to pillage the school that they even climbed the back wall of the school, ripped apart the tarpaulin roof that shaded the back side and then got busy in ransacking the entire place.

However, the school was saved from further damage, by the timely arrival of the fire-brigade and the Commissioner of Police.

But much was not saved and the livelihood of thousands of people crumbled into ashes.

The night waned and the purple light of dawn imbued into the sky, the orange shades scaring the blackness of the night away.

Curfew had been imposed in Hyderabad.

But would it be enough to curb the riots?

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Seven Sins Stories – Greed — “I want more and more and more …”

He pored over the mammoth book, his glasses almost at the edge of his beaky nose. His eyes were a horrid shade of red, embellished with dark circles beneath them. His skin was yellow and pale, as if it hadn’t seen sun much. A faded tee clung to his skinny torso, while a baggy jean barely clutched his thin waist. He was too small for the over-sized jean.

Short, bespectacled – Kyushu was a model student. Top in every class, yet perhaps the most unnoticed entity in the senior class. Nobody talked to him, he didn’t talk to anyone – and he was happy with that. His books were his friends. His notes were his companions. He didn’t need anybody else.

He thirsted for knowledge, for information. And now, when Tokyo University entrance exams were in the sight, it was only natural for him to study more and more. This was his career after all. What if he slept less than two hours a day, what if his eyes were bleary and dazed, what if his hands shook and head pounded now and then? His mind was functioning properly. He mustn’t be wasting time on sleep.

He had to know everything. He wanted to be able to answer to every question.

His frenzied thirst for knowledge was disconcerting.

“Mr. Urawe, you can borrow some of these books next week too, you know. This library isn’t going anywhere. I can’t imagine you reading ten books of such length in just seven days!” the librarian of Tokyo Central Library had exclaimed, as he had placed the books on the counter for borrowing.

He had grunted an annoyed reply. What business was it of hers?

“My entrance exams would be starting in two months, and I want to cover as much reference books as possible.”

“I understand, but …” the librarian had just begun to mumble.

More annoyed now, he had snapped, cutting her in mid-sentence,” Please mind your own business. You’re not paid to give counseling advice here.”

The librarian, taken back at the rudeness of his reply, started to stamp the books to be borrowed.

She vowed to never help any grumpy teenager again.

What a time! Even well-meant advice is scorned – the librarian thought indignantly as she slammed the cover of The Classical Physics: Basic Principles and Doctrines shut and slid the books over to the boy, who quickly filled the books in his beg and walked out of the library.

Greedy kid, does not even have the decency to say thank you, the librarian thought sullenly and once again, absorbed herself in the monotonous work of a librarian. Stamping, indexing, sorting and more stamping.

———-#————–#———-

“At least, have some miso! It’s your favorite!” the disheveled plump woman scolded.

“I don’t want to. I don’t feel like it!” Kyushu made a face.

“Eat up! You haven’t eaten anything since yesterday! How could you study if you lay off the food!? See, how skinny you’ve become … if only your father was here, he would make you eat it! Boys can be so tiresome sometimes!” Kyushu’s mother shrilly reprimanded.

“I said I don’t wanna!” Kyushu slammed his fork down and sliding back his chair, clambered out of it and headed for his room – he was so not up for a fight now, he had a lot to study and he couldn’t afford to waste anymore time on his mother’s attempts to feed him. Doesn’t she get it? Food is not a priority. Hell, a person could survive fifty days without food. Why make a fuss on every meal? He thought sulkily.

“You come back here, mister!” his mother shouted, as he climbed the stairs to his room.

He was not greedy for food. He was greedy for knowledge. He understood that the entrance exam was just a pretext to spend more and more time on reading books.

Knowledge was his drug. It intoxicated him. How can he not consume it?

———-#————#———

Time was hurling fast as always. Two months passed in a snap. He had done a dozen more trips to the library – borrowing as much as twelve books at once. He had the membership card, so he could’ve even got a hundred, but then he didn’t want the librarian to choke at the sight of them. His mother surely would’ve become hysterical and he would’ve had to waste more time on hearing her wails and shrieks. He’d rather read some interesting book on Neo Biology.

He smiled faintly.

He just couldn’t part from his books. He longed for them, attributing the longing to his greed for knowledge. Yes, he had always been like that. From early days of his childhood, he had been reading everything from the back of shampoo bottles to the posters stuck on the supermarket walls. Books were his subsistence and he thrived on them. Books were his craving and his greed was satiated by them. Books were his world and he was besotted by them.

Greed. Greed. Greed.

Maybe it was not so bad, after all.

His knowledge was vaster than any distinguished professor of Tokyo University. He was more well-informed about latest discoveries than any of his classmates. He could easily give a PhD run for his money!

Yes, Greed was not bad – the ancients were stupid, who had labeled it as one of the deadly seven sins!

But, then I KNOW more than them, so who cares what they called it! He thought smugly and returned to his books.

Tomorrow was the day of the entrance exam.

———#———–#———-

sin⁡α±sin⁡β=2 sin⁡〖1/2 (α±β)〗 cos⁡〖1/2(α∓β)〗

The equation had popped out of his mouth, as a wave of nausea hit him. He stuffed the equation back into his mouth and tried to concentrate. The pencil in his hand trembled, as his hand shook.

Nausea soon smacked him again and he placed his hand over his mouth. He belched. A few equations slipped from the crevices in his fingers and spilled in front of him.

f(x)=a_0+∑_(n=1)^∞▒(a_n cos⁡〖nπx/L〗+b_n sin⁡〖nπx/L〗 ) landed in his lap.

His eyes wide in horror, he collected the equations and packing them again in his mouth, swallowed.

Another cramp of agony in his stomach made him cringe and covering his mouth with his right hand raised his left to signal to the invigilator that he wanted to use washroom.

The invigilator nodded and made a gesture to affirm his permission. Kyushu with his hand on his mouth, rushed out of the hall to the men washroom. He pushed the door open and hurrying to the basin, vomited. A jet of equations and formulas issued from his mouth.

Gasping for air, he tried to cram them again in his mouth, inducing another sickening lurch in his stomach.

His eyes paranoid, quivering in mania, sodden in perspiration – he kept vomiting equations and then ramming them back in.

He slumped on the floor, twisting and writhing, screaming and shouting, equations pouring from his mouth and mounting in heaps on the tiled bathroom floor. He blubbered; spilling all the knowledge that he had so contently cabinet-ed in his mind – but he couldn’t do much about it.

This was the price of Greed.

———#———–#——–

Cross Mental Facility, Sagami.

Patient Report

Name of patient: Kyushu Urawe.

Age: 18 years old.

Diagnosis: Acute Paranoia and Chronic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

———#———–#———-

[Note:  Inspired by the anime Paranoia Agent.]

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