Wednesday, December 19, 2018

THE WEIGHTLOSS BOYS Genres: Drama. Black Comedy.

“My dad is fat and my mom loves him. Just because we are fat doesn’t mean our lives are ruined,” says Ron, the guy who has been silently scouting everyone of the girls in our class over the past three years of college. He must be really desperate now to turn his eyes on Nancy, a girl who is fat, if not fatter, than both of us.

He notices Nancy coming up the stairs.  He swallows hard, then, with a quivering nervous smile at me, walks to the top of the stairs to meet her.

For the umpteenth time, I suppress the urge to stop him and explain to him that even though we both weigh exactly 100 kg, I am 3 inches taller than him.  Which means that if we were to take our BMIs into consideration, I am less obese than him.  I make a mental note that the next time he refers to both of us as fat, I am going to throw this fact at him and watch him cringe. A while back, I had gained a few extra kilos. Upon realizing this, I kept it a closely guarded secret and immediately went on a crash diet to bring my weight back down to 100 kilos. I couldn’t give the fucker the satisfaction of weighing lesser than me.

Nancy walks up the stairs with her signature head-down, shoulders rolled in, and cocooned-in-her-own-inner-world posture. Reaching the top and realizing that a pair of legs stood in her way, then looking up and realizing that it was intentional, she looks taken aback.

Ron has his back to me, but I observe that he has this strange animated body language on that I have never noticed before. I can see Nancy’s eyes nervously dart from side to side as she stands there helplessly, as if she was stuck, listening to whatever Ron is telling her.  A couple of times she looks around as if expecting this to be some kind of a sick joke, as if a group of people would jump out and laugh pointing at her at any moment. And then, her eyes fall on me. For a few seconds, our eyes lock on each other. I abruptly break the contact and look down at my IPHONE which is held in my right hand’s default flexed position.

I have the Facebook app open in my phone, and I notice the recent post on the Karanpur News Facebook Page. Karanpur News is one out of the two news agencies in our town. They both have been steadily increasing their online presence over the past year, and they both now have over 10,000 followers on their respective pages. The post I am looking at is their front page news for the day. It was a sting operation in which they caught public urinators in the act. On video. The video has garnered more than 6K likes and reactions with hundreds of comments pouring in.  As you can guess, this is the most newsworthy thing to happen in our town since yesterday.

I hear Nancy walking up the next flight of stairs. Away from Ron. He stands, his back to me, watching her climb away. He is hunched over. Defeated. He slowly turns around. I am trying hard not to laugh. I’m trying to look confused.  It's more fun to pretend like I didn’t understand what just happened and to hear him say it.

Then it happened.

He misplaces his foot down the top step and falls back. He rolls down the stairs and ends on the floor below. I hear a bone crunching noise. He jaw is broken.

They had to wire his jaw shut.  And with the liquid “nutritious” diet he was on for 2 months, he ended up losing 25 kg.  Fuck.

Genres:  Drama.  Black Comedy.

- Rejo John


He's one of them.

After 2 months, he returns.  He sits beside me in the FAT LOSER’S CORNER.  I am wondering if he's mocking me by doing this.  He looks leaner.  His jawline doesn't show any sign of trauma, but the shocking thing is I can see his jawline.
"I never thought I would say this, but I’m so glad to be back at school.  Sometimes I feel my mom is crazy protective," the fucker says with a loud sigh.
I push my open bag towards him. A JUMBO potato chips packet in it with its mouth wide open. I go back to pretend-examining my new high-end smart watch.
"No, thanks.  I just don't feel that hungry anymore," he says with a cursory glance at the bag.


As I sit there wondering what all this means, the stupid classmates passing by would stop and mention how Ron looked different and fake sympathy on breaking his jaw and shit.  I continue to ignore them and pretend-fix my TAG Heuer Connected luxury smart watch.

Then, I hear her.  The squeaky voice of the most popular girl in the class. Rosy. The diva.
"You look soo different, I mean ‘good’ different," she squealed with a well-rehearsed laugh that didn't deviate from her best looks.
"Thank you," Ron says. Blushing.
"You know what?  Tonight, we are celebrating Dexie's birthday," she says showing to her friend, Dakshayani, in an elegant manner the way show business people introduce other show business people.

"We are having a small party” she continues, “and we want you to join us."
She isn't looking at me. Doesn’t acknowledge my existence. I go back to my watch. I smack it violently. I pretend to be a customer with high standards who brought the TAG Heuer Connected luxury smart watch with equally high expectations, but the product has failed to deliver.   My heart skips a beat when the perfectly working watch's screen turns off at one of my smacks. But I don't show it on my face.

I hear Ron whisper something to them, but I am not interested.
"Oh, of course! He's your friend, right? He can come too," she says. Her squeaky voice directed at me.  I look up at her and her cronies.  They have weird looks on their faces. Ron is beaming.

Rosy turns to Ron, smiles, gives him one of those hand wiggling of a bye-bye, and walks away with her ensemble following her.


I personally don't like parties.  If someone had invited me to one before, I would have turned it down.  The only reason I decided to come to this is because I thought it was a good opportunity to debut my Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones that I bought a month back. I made sure to load some of my favorite songs. After all, this is a party.

I and Ron roamed around in silence till we found a place which we felt could be the loser's spot for the evening.

We sit there.  I keep nodding my head to the beats in my Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones.  To be clear, I and Ron never talk much.  We are more or less friends by exclusion. Nobody hung out with us, therefore we ended up with each other.  I suspect Ron, like me, finds it uncomfortable to be by himself in public, so we sit together.  Alone together.  That way, nobody would judge us.

Also, we have our unspoken agreements. If Ron is watching a movie on his phone, I never feign interest and ask him about it. Or if I am eating something, Ron will never ask me for a bite. We keep the “socially acceptable” bullshit away.

A squeaky noise pierces my eardrum although the Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones is supposed to be noise cancelling headphones.  I look up. It's Rosy. The diva. With her gang.

Deja Vu.

"I have to saaay, every time I see you, it's.... it's.. you used to be soo fa-.... heav-"
"Fat," Ron interjected accompanied with a humble chuckle.
"Ye- yes.  Fat," she giggled. "You used to be soo fat, but now...."

Bitch is comfortable with the word now.

"I HAVE to make a before-after comparison photo.  Do you have, like, an older photo of you- your fat self?" she said sounding excited.
Ron squirmed. His brows bunched together as his brain went into cognitive overdrive. We never took pictures of ourselves.  There's no amount of "right posturing" or "fitting clothes" or “lighting” that would make us look good.
"Oh, someone had tagged us in a photo on Facebook once!" Ron exclaimed.

Fuck, no! Not that one!

An over-enthusiastic Ron jumps up and helps Rosy find it in her phone.

The group huddle together, look at the photo, look at Ron, and then gasp.  Look back at the photo again, look at Ron again, and then gasp.

"This is perfect! This would inspire soo many people!” Rosy says with a look of benevolence on her face.
"Yeah, sure," says an over-the-top eager Ron.
"We need your friend too in the shot so that it would look perfect.  Actually, I think your friend has lost a bit of weight too," she squeaked.

I haven't.

Ron coaxes me to stand beside him, and Rosy directs us into the exact posture we were in the old picture.  After taking the photo, her fingers work like little ninjas on her phone, a grin plastered on her face. A minute later, she shows us the before and after picture.

I look exactly the same in both photos. The only difference being I was holding onto a Galaxy Note in the before photo versus the Beats headphone I now wore around my neck.  Ron has a striking difference in his body habitus. I look like the fat comic relief guy.

"There! I shared it on my wall," she says, excited.  Then, in an instant, her eyes go wide open, her mouth drops open, and she turns to her fan squad:
"I got another 800 likes on my profile picture! This is officially my second most liked profile picture!"
“Uuuuuuhhh” her cronies respond.

After they leave us the fuck alone, I go back to my music with Ron chatting up with some of the other students. He at one point leaves me alone to hang out with them. I, of course, don’t care.  I don't care about this entire affair even though I desperately want to find her Facebook profile and find out how the sheep are responding to the photo.  I chuckle at the thought of her trying to respond to the shitton of messages from girls inquiring about the cool guy in the photo wearing the Beats. But who am I kidding? I bet most of them haven’t even heard of Beats.

Besides, I know what is going to happen.  Nobody’s going to give a fuck about a photo of two dudes.  She will probably delete the photo upon seeing the abysmal number of likes accrued so that people visiting her profile won’t see a dud.

Little did I know that a guy who works for Karanpur News was on her friends list, and it must have been the most unnewsworthy day because they posted the photo as their top news with the headline:

By the next evening, the post had garnered 7k likes.


It’s the next day, and I am not at school. Instead, I sit in my room obsessively re-reading the comments and awaiting new ones.  These stupid townsfolk are making a joke out of me! They think I am lazy!  Some comments say I am probably a guy who can’t refuse a samosa!

I want to set the record straight.  Tell these dumb fuckers the truth behind Ron’s weight loss.  It was no HUMAN FUCKING WILL.  But how do I go about this? Make a Youtube video? Write a Facebook post? Write a long comment ranting abou- I get a message.  It's from a reporter working for Karanpur Now, the competitor of Karanpur News.

'Sir, I am Rajesh from Karanpur Now.  We believe in real news and now.  We believe in news that happens in the now.  I would like an interview with you to hear your reaction to Karanpur's News' article and the response from the town's persons," the message reads.
'When shall I come in?' I reply.
'No, sir. We do it through Facebook Messenger video feature and record it.  But if you don't have the equipment, I can come over with a camera.'
I am just pushed over the edge right now.  I type back, furiously,
'Of course I have the equipment! In fact, I have the best! I have an iPhone X with a 4G conn-'  Before I can finish typing, the screen shifts to show that he's calling me.
I accept the video call.
"Hello, sir, I am Rajesh from Karanpur Now.  We believe in real news and now.  We believe in news that happens in the now."
"Oh, h- hi, Rajesh," I say.
"Sir, I just wanted to know about your response to the news published by a local newspap-" he continued.
"I just want to set things straight here!  I know what that stupid newspaper wrote, and I want to tell them that they haven't done their research.  Ron didn't lose weight by will or by choice.  What happened was, 2 months ago, he broke his jaw and couldn't eat food.  That's how he lost it.  If it was me in his place, I would have lost the weight instead of HIM!" I can’t remember the last time I spoke so much to another human being other than shouting at my parents.
"So, sir, this was fake news by an unethical newspaper," he says.
"I don't get why people are calling me lazy.  If this was a competition and both of us were given the same amount of time, I would have lost more weight than him!"  This was followed by a pause.  I have been shouting again.
Rajesh acknowledged the pause and said,
"So, sir, if both of you had concensly taken decision to lose weight for, I say, like 6 months, you would have lost more weight than him?"
Another pause.
"Sir, I'm having some connection issues.  Is it nice on your end?" Rajesh says.
"Wh- Of course, it is alright on my end.  I have an Iphone 6S with a 4G connection with a 100 MBPS backup WiFi." But Rajesh's voice is breaking up and the video is pixelating. I shout as loud as I can, "I have an Iphone 6S with a 4G connection with a 100 MBPS backup WiFi! Did you get tha-" The video call ends abruptly.

I try calling him back, but he declines.  A minute later, he messages apologizing for the technical issue and stating he got everything that he needed.  These fucking guys don't even have the necessary equipment to run a news company!

An hour later, the interview is up on their Facebook page.  The fucker had edited out the part at the end about my phone and my WiFi connection.

Within a few minutes, the comments start to roll in.
'I feel cheated.   Karanpur News should be ashamed to post such masala-ed up news,' read one of the comments.
'I knew something was not right.  A guy loses 25 kg in 2 months by dieting?? That's a load of bullshit,' reads another excellent comment.
'Boo-hoo! Listen to this jealous little cry baby trying to say how the entire world is aga-" FUCK THIS GUY!
'Good work, Karanpur Now.  You guys are way better than  Karanpur News.  Unlike them, you believe in real news and now.  We believe in news that happens in the now. Karanpur News sucks.  Karanpur Now rox!  Follow us for real news,' read another sensible comment written by someone who had a well-oiled bullshit detector.

I lie down on my bed feeling pleased at how things are turning out.

Next day, Karanpur News had put out a post in response:

In response to the epic rant by John - the town's obese boy, Rosy (speaking on behalf of Ron) stated that she accepted the challenge put forth by the aforementioned party.  She and Ron are going to prove once and for all how wrong John is!  <....> A public weigh-in will be held in 6 months to once and for all “set things straight.”"


2. I.

Cardio and dieting:  Two words I always scoffed at until everything went to hell. In fact, I think hell is nothing but a gym where you are locked in and forced to do cardio all the time, and all they serve in their cafeteria are leafy vegetables.

I noticed something interesting in the gym today.  Nancy, the fat girl, was walking on a treadmill at the farthest end of the cardio floor.  To tell the truth, it’s demotivating to see fat people running on the treadmill.  You start asking yourself questions such as “How long have they been working out?” “Are they just starting out or have they been working out for over a year and still fat?”

The next day after the post appeared in Karanpur News challenging me, I had gone to my college and told my principal that I would like a study leave for the rest of the 3 months.  He didn't care.  The syllabus was completed.  It was the final year of college.  These 3 months were just a formality.  Now, I can concentrate on losing my weight full-time.

A couple of weeks later, I see Nancy using a treadmill closer to mine.

I change my phone's SIM and disable my Facebook account.  I message all 10 friends on my friends list, except Ron, stating that I was leaving Facebook to take care of some personal stuff.  I don’t wait for them to try and cox me to stay back on Facebook.  To be honest, I don't even know these guys.  They were just random friend requests that I received.  I have a feeling they are fake profiles created by some click farm to provide fake likes to paying customers.

Once I disabled my Facebook account, I immediately created a fake account to spy on Ron and Rosy.  To keep myself updated on their progress.

It seems Ron is hanging out with Rosy and her friends a lot nowadays.  Some of her selfies were of him eating BUFFETS!!  I can't wait to see the look on their faces when I surprise them with my lean body in 6 months.

Nancy is now walking on the treadmill right next to mine.  She comes in earlier than anybody else in the gym, including me, and picks the treadmill right next to mine.  I had been careful to avoid eye contact, but today we looked at each other at the exact same time.  After abruptly looking away, I turned to look back at her.  She smiled, and then almost stumbled.  I gave her a WHATEVER KINDA SMILE and went back to the quantum physics documentary on my iPad which was propped up on the treadmill.

Things were heating up.  The media from nearby towns were interviewing Ron.  I, of course, avoided all forms of communication.  The media must be desperate to grab ahold of me.  I go out in hooded jackets and make sure to grab copies of the newspapers.  I make sure to watch the interviews on YouTube to have a look at the fucker.  He seems to have made no progress!

For my exam, I request that I be given a different center than my classmates. With only 3 months to go for the public weigh-in, and probably because they were blown away by my progress, the college’s management team seemed very eager to comply to my demand. I guess they want to be a part of this phenomenon.

Now with just 2 months left for the weigh-in, I pretty much spent half my day in the gym and the rest at home resisting the urge to order a pizza.  I was the last person to leave the gym.  I just have to wake the security guy up on my way out so that he can lock the place up and go back to sleep.

But then one day, when I changed my clothes and came out to the floor, I see Nancy standing there. Waiting for me. In front of my treadmill.  She isn't in her usual workout clothes.  She has changed into something more girly.  She stands in her classic Nancy pose:  Looking down at her feet, her shoulders rounded, part of her hair forming a natural screen and hiding her face. She stands facing the treadmill and probably hasn't noticed me yet. My first instinct is to walk away before she notices me, but my iPad is on the treadmill.  Finally, I walk to my treadmill pretending I don't see her.  But before I can grab my iPad, she jumps at me and hugs me.  I am stunned.  I initially try to wriggle out of her grip, but then give in. To be clear, I dislike this, but at the same time, there is something strangely nice about this.  To be honest, I have never been hugged by anyone from the opposite sex that was not related to me by blood.  Just when I am growing comfortable with it, she lets me go, then says a quick "thank you" and starts to walk away.

I must have been crazy because instead of letting it go at that, I quiver,

She turns around and says,
"It is because of you I come to the gym every day.  I wanted to thank you for the motivation."
But, bitch, you haven't lost any weight, I want to say.  But instead I say,
“I go out to dinner once in a while, and that once happens to be tomorrow. Would you like to join me?”

She smiles.  And nods.

2. II.
Some of the people in the restaurant are taking pictures of me.  Fuck, if Ron gets ahold of them, he's going to know my progress.  Not to mention I am wearing well-fitting clothes that show off my leaner, fitter body.  But, fuck it, how many times do you get to go on a first date?

I order what I usually get home delivered from here: A fruit salad.
"And what about you, madam?" asks the waiter.
"What he’s having," she says. Blushing.

At times I feel like I should say something.  Throughout the journey, right from the gym to the restaurant, we had been pretty quiet.  The same continues as we both finish our fruit salads.

"That was nice. Wasn't that nice?" I finally say prodding for a response.
"Would you like something else, madam?" the waiter interjects appearing out of nowhere.
"Yes, a chicken biriyani, please."
"What about you, sir?" the waiter asks.
"No- nothing," I say.  The waiter walks away.  Nancy looks down. Realizing her stupidity, she looks horrified and ashamed.  I continue to glare at her judgingly.  CHICKEN FUCKING BIRIYANI!  How are people like her supposed to lose any weight if they don't make any fucking sacrifices??
"It's not like I don’t try," she says as if reading my mind, "I- I have this thyroid condition.  I have tried everything - exercise, diet, yoga, but they don't make any difference."Her voice breaks towards the end.

I make myself comfortable in my seat and tell her, "It's all about motivation and determination.  Did you know that 'impossible' is a word that's not in my dictionary??"
Right then, a hot plate of biryani arrives between us.  My salivary glands go into overdrive.  But, no.  FUCK, NO!  I take a sip of my water and hold myself together.  I see her eyeing the biryani, but she doesn't dare make any advances toward it.
"If you want results, you need to make sacrifices! Are you ready to make sacrifices?" I ask.
Nancy looks close to tears. She finally manages to nod her head.
I grab my glass of water, take a sip, and pour the rest in the biryani saying,
"Then enough with the crappy food!"
She looks shocked as if I was killing her baby.  She begins to say,
"But it's my thy-"
It takes me a moment to realize I said that too loud.  I hear gasps and murmurs .  Nancy, close to tears, stands up and runs out of the restaurant.

2. III.

Nancy hasn't turned up at the gym over the past 2 months since the incident at the restaurant. I actually feel relieved.  Human beings are so complicated. You never know what they are thinking.

A photo of me walking out of the restaurant was published in Karanpur News.  Now I have to work twice as hard because it is now public knowledge as to how far I have gotten along.  Ron has a milestone to reach.

Finally, on the weigh-in day, Karanpur Times had organised a small social event.  A local singer sang songs and a local magician performed magic on the stage.  About a thousand people gathered to witness the historic event. I could feel my heart thumping against my chest.  As hard as I tried, I couldn't even get a glimpse of Ron.  They apparently had given him a dressing room on the other side of the stage. The whispers say he's already in the room.

Towards the end of the night, the host calls me out.  I walk out wearing a  long robe like the ones that boxers wear on their way to the ring.
"We have calibrated the weighing machine in such a way that it counts back from 100 to the actual weight so that it creates a bit of SUSPENSE!!" the host says.  The audience cheers.  A LED screen held up on a tripod displayed the digit “100” in huge, bright, red digits.  I remove by rob amidst cheers from the crowd and step on the weighing scale.
"ANNNNND.... GO!" the host shouts.
The number on the scale starts counting down.  Once it passes 70, it starts to slow down.  Once it crosses 60, it slows down to a dribble with each change taking a couple of seconds.  The crowd cheers louder with each change.  It finally comes to a stop at 51, and the audience loses it.
"Alright, alright! Now, let's bring out the previous winner!" the host says.

From the other side of the stage enters Ron followed closely by Rosy.  Rosy has a forced smile on her face.  Ron climbs on the weighing scale.  The same process of counting back from 100 ensues. It passes 60. The crowd cheers louder. It stops at 57.  The applause dies down.
"Awww... I was actually rooting for you, bud.  Would you like to say something to your fans?," the shithead host says showing the mike to Ron.
Rosy jumps in between them and says,
"We are soo sorry to have let our fans down. Shucks!"
"Why do you think you lost?" the host asks showing the mic clearly  to Ron.
Rosy jumps in once again,
"Well, there were too many things going on.  We were quite busy with the exams and other things, but now that we have more time on our hands, we are going to dedicate ourselves completely to this and make sure we win the next weigh-in!"
NEXT WEIGH-IN?!!? Let me celebrate my win, for fuck's sake!
"Wait, are you guys together?" the host says, now showing the mic to Rosy while Ron stands with a plastered smile on his face.
"Ah, yes, we have been together for the past 5-6 months, going strong!" the hillbilly says.
"Wow, that's great! Give the lovely couple a big hand!” the audience gives a wimpy applause for the losers.

“And now, our clear winner for tonight," the host says walking towards me.
I notice Rosy taking a selfie with Ron. She nudges him to make an exaggerated sad face.  She then rapidly types a status to go along with it.
"Wow, this is totally a surprise! You lost a ton of weight!" the host says, flabbergasted.
"Yes.  It was twice as hard for me because when we started out, Ron was already halfway there and I had to lose twice as much weight.  And it's made even harder by the fact that I am 3 inches taller than him, so it was really tough."
The host is wide eyed with amazement as he processes the hard facts.
"We all know how difficult it is and all the hard work that it takes to lose weight. What kept you motivated through this journey?"
“ I watch motivating Youtube videos on my iPad when I feel down, my GIRLFRIEND motivated me, and I also used the latest technology of wearables to monitor my vital signs to make sure I got the optimum workout done."
"Your girlfriend? Is she here?"
"Ye- yes.  Nancy is somewhere in the crowd.  She's a bit camera-shy."
"Ha ha! Alrighty! Now, what are your thoughts on the next weigh-in?"
The dickhead has assumed that it's actually happening just because she said so.  But I didn't want to seem like a chicken.  I'm going to play along till they realize how hard it is and drop out themselves.
"Yeah, I think it's going to be a close call.  After a certain point, it gets harder and harder to lose weight, so it's going to be really tough."

”Let's give it up for our winner!!”

The crowd goes nuts.

A few minutes later, I am making my way through the crowd to get the fuck out of there.  The singer is back on the stage singing more songs on public demand.  There are quite a number of food stalls and pushcarts selling unhealthy shit. This has turned into some sort of a carnival.

As I push through the crowd to get to the parking lot, people pat me, congratulating me. I try to ignore them, pretend like this whole thing was a piece of cake, but I can't help but smile. I have finally gotten myself to these dickheads that I am superior to them in all ways. They mocked me thinking I'm just anoth- Shit! Nancy stands in my way. She looks at me with an expressionless face. It's difficult to read humans. Is she mad? Is she here to apologize to me? Either ways, I don't care.
"I haven't seen you around for 2 mo-" I start to say when she hugs me again.  This time I don't try to wriggle out, instead I just let myself be a limp doll in her hands.  She finally lets me go, blushes, and says,
"I never had a boyfriend before."
The only reason I said that was because I didn't want fucking Ron and Rosy to have a one up over me, I wanted to tell her. I didn't want people to think that the only reason I won was because I was a loser who had nothing else going on with his life.  As I stand there racking my brain to say something, fucking Ron shows up.  I am confused whether to be relieved or upset.

"What's the fuck's wrong with your phone??" he says in a forced whisper, "I've been trying to reach you!"  Then, as if in a quick afterthought, he waves his arms around dismissing the thought and says, "Why did you accept another weigh-in??  Rosy is driving me crazy!  She's a total control freak.  At first, I thought this was how relationships are supposed to be.  My mom's always bossing my dad around, and I think I now know why he's always drinking a lot.  Rosy even spends most of the day at my house, and it's now like a fucking competition between her and my mother to see who can control me the most.  It's driving me nu-"
"RON!" Rosy had appeared seemingly out of nowhere like the waiter at the hotel.
"Oh, hi, dear," Ron says in a low squeaky voice.  Rosy looks pissed off. Her grip tightening on her phone with the pink glittery cover.  Her eyes rapidly moving from person to person, judging.
"We need to go!  The driver's getting the car!" she says finally, tight-lipped.
"Oh, ah, ye- okay, dear," Ron whimpers and follows her out of there.
"What the  fuck..." Nancy stops, suddenly becoming self conscious of her language, looks down guiltily at her feet in her classic pose, and murmurs, "..was that?"
"The oldest trick in the book.  Make your competitor drop out of the competition so that you make them look like pussies.  If they want another weigh-in, that's exactly what I will give them!" I say, my chest thrust out, warrior pose.
A moment of silence ensued while we both stand awkwardly.  Nancy is still recovering from her slip-up, her head down. She finally looks up and exclaims,
"You won!"

3. I.


Losing weight after a certain point becomes torture.  After obsessively counting calories taken in and calories burnt, I have lost just 10 kgs over the past 5 months.  Whenever I am about to eat something, I always ask myself if Ron would do the same. Then I throw away the food.  May be he eats just once in a day, or may be he goes on week-long fasts to lose that last kilo.

You can imagine my frustration when the TV station gets in touch with me to say that the weigh-in has been postponed for another 3 months. When probed for an explanation, it's always, "I don't know, sir.  My manager won't say."  When I call the manager, he would say, "It's from the top.  I have no idea."  What was Ron up to!?  Did he have a spy in my gym?  Was he monitoring my progress, and upon falling short, was he pushing the weigh-in date with some shitty excuse so that he can beat me?  Just thinking about these things make me dizzy, but I refuse to take in more calories. Let him play his stupid game. I'm going to be ready no matter what.  At this point, my weight loss has dribbled to a few measly grams per week.

Nancy is back in the gym working alongside me.  She thinks we are now in a relationship although I think that's debatable.  Not to mention that any form of physical contact with her at this point is painful.  A hug from her enormous body feels like what I imagine must be the bearhug move from professional wrestling. Bet she eats junk food all day at home and puts on a show at the gym. 

"Who are they!?" I ask irritated referring to the girls at the gym with whom she just spent some time laughing near the watercooler.  This ‘socializing’ had been going on for a couple of days now.  I could hear them giggling and laughing.  I have noticed some of them even wave bye at Nancy when they leave the gym for the day.
"Wha- Who?" she says, nervous, obviously trying to play dumb.
"Your ‘FRIENDS’??" I scoff.
"They are jus-"
"The only reason they want to be friends with you is because you are my girlfriend," I state the obvious.  She doesn't reply.  She looks guilty as fuck and continues to walk on the treadmill which is set to run at a snail's pace.

I am starting to enjoy  this relationship thing.  Like they say, it’s all about finding the right person.  And I found Nancy.  I like to dominate and Nancy loves being dominated.  We are the perfect match.

We go out on dinner dates every weekend.  But now, with the competition just 2 months away, I even skimp on the salad.  I just watch Nancy eat her salad and may be steal a piece or two  from her plate, all the while wondering if Ron would eat this.
"Just 2 more months to go, unless they fucking extend the date again," I say nibbling on a piece of carrot.
"I think they should just cancel the entire thing."
I almost retch up.  I stare at her.  She doesn't catch my eye and continues to chomp down on her vegetables with no regard for the calories.

I don't talk much for the rest of the date and keep the thoughts to myself. But it isn't over.  Next day, at the gym, she is back on it.
"I don't think it’s healthy anymore," says the fatso.
I turn off my treadmill and stand up straight by holding onto the handles.  She must have noticed my serious stance because she turned to me with a blank expression on her face.
"You know, Nancy, remember the time when you said I motivated you to hit the gym?"
She nods.
"How about you, you know, return the favor? Why don't you be a bit more supportive? This is important to me," I say.
"But you are killing yoursel-" she stops mid-sentence when she notices one of the girls from the gym walking towards us. I stare at Nancy who rightfully instantly has a guilty look on her face.  It’s all a powerplay.
"We are headed to Tom's Pizza. You coming?" the pseudohealth girl says.
Nancy seemed to be struggling with her response, so I instantly reply for her,
"She won't be joining you guys." And the calorie-loving girl just won't leave.
"She was the one who suggested we go, so may be you should let her talk," the girl says.
"I am sure you guys pressured her into this, and as she's my girlfriend, I can talk on her behalf," I say.  The rest of the girls from the Love Handles Club were slowly converging around us, probably to drag this girl  back like a wounded animal in the wild.
"You don't ‘own’ her," says another girl.
"We have been listening to how you talk to her, and it's just not right," says another.  Oh, these fucking feminists trying to fix the world when its not brok-
"What's happening, guys?" a mellow voice broke in. The voice belonged to the 6-feet, 85-kilo muscle mass gym owner, Arun.
"Arun, you said this gym was safe for women," says one of the girls.
"Ye- yes, it is. What's the matter?" he mellows.
"This guy here is abusing her."
"Wha- What??" Arun painfully shuffles his muscles to turn around so that he can look at me.
"Yeah, it's not a safe environment for women when he's around," says another.
"What are you going to do about it, Arun?" says another.
Arun shifts with a humongous amount of effort every time someone speaks.
"The only reason his gym is popular than the competition is because I work out here. Besides, I pay twice the subscription amount.  It's a win-win for him that I'm here," I scoff.  The girls stare at Arun.  I can sense the fall of pride on their faces.  Then the steroid abuser opens his mouth.
"Well, I have been receiving som- eh, some complaints.  People think you look malnourished, and its a bit, you know, demotivating, because they want to be, you know, eh, healthy," the movement-handicapped asshole actually waved his hand to himself when he said the word ‘healthy.’ He then turns to the girls, "And I don't think I would risk losing out on all you guys just for him.”
I have never been more saddened in my life. This is exactly the reason why I always distance myself from these pathetic humans.  Gadgets are way better.
"Fuck all of you!" I say grabbing my towel and getting off the treadmill.  I turn to Arun,
"We are going to join one of your competitors who will actually value us," I say walking away.  It takes me a while to realize that I was alone.  I turn around to see Nancy still on her treadmill.
"What are you waiting for? You need to get changed?" I say.
"I'm not coming.  May be- may be we should take a break from our relationship," she says looking down at her feet.  The girls smile and give approving smiles to Nancy!
"I always knew you were one of them, the ‘losers,‘ so, fuck you too!" I say and walk out.

3. II.

I realize that the other gyms aren't exactly clamoring to have me be a part of their gym.  I guess they don't recognize me.  I guess I have changed too much over the past 7 months.  These fools probably think I am thin because I'm sickly.  One of the bastards even asked me to do a pushup, which I promptly tried and failed.  I then argued how being able to do pushups isn't a stamp of good health. People with fucking beer bellys can do pushups!

Anyways, I risked it with my dad's credit card, and it worked.  I bought a treadmill and got it delivered to my apartment.  I moved out of my house 5 months ago after I could no longer take my parents' bickering about my diet.  On my way out, I take my dad's credit card and the old car.

Fuck gyms!  Now, I can cardio right in my apartment.

I use my fake Facebook profile to stalk Ron and Rosy, but Ron has gone AWOL for many months.  I guess he has finally learnt the importance of hiding your progress.  Rosy as usual posted her weekend selfies with her gang of woo-hoos and, as usual, they would rake in hundreds of likes.

The fact that the weigh-in is less than 2 months away was starting to make me anxious.  I found myself messaging Raghu, the only guy I used to talk to in my class apart from Ron.  In fact, Raghu had once featured me in his Youtube channel where he reviewed gadgets.  He treated me rightfully as an expert whose opinions mattered and were final.  I like him.  I message him inquiring if he had any info on Ron. He said he will get back to me after asking around.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have had a third person in my Facebook Stalk List:  Nancy.  Prior to these 2 weeks, she barely posted anything on her wall. In fact, her profile picture was that of a flower.  But now, there was a fresh post everyday.  Selfies in the gym with her new dumb friends.  Selfies at Tom's Pizzas.  Selfies hanging out at the park playing tennis with her new dumb friends.  Selfies wit- You get the idea.  And then there were plenty more of her being tagged.  I almost gagged.  The only reason her new ‘friends' even wanted to talk to her is because of me.  Its fame by association.  It got her close enough to people for just long enough for them to see her personality.  I too had the personality back when I was heavy, and now I still got the personality but I am also thin and handsome.  I am everything in one packa-  I just got a message from Raghu.  Apparently someone saw Ron at Florence Hospital a week ago.  He was apparently admitted there.

What was the fucker up to?? Getting some kind of weight loss surgery done??  But now I got the sucker!  I will find out what he's up to and get one up on him!

3. III.

I found myself stumbling as I made my way to the car. Probably because I hadn't left home over the past week.   Than you, home deliveries!

Florence Hospital is on the other side of the town.  As I drive I wonder if what really united Nancy and her new 'gym buddies' was a common hatred towards me.  Do they think I am going to lose?  Am I the butt of their jokes? Do they crack jokes at my expense?  I can't wait to win and watch them cringe. May be then they will avoid Nancy.  May be then Nancy would realize what she's done and come crawling back to me and ask for forgiveness.

Upon reaching the hospital, I face a problem.  A security guard stands at the entrance and argues with an old couple that he can't let them in because visiting hours are over.

I just walk right through the entrance.  The security guard did give me a look, but I looked back at him with calm confidence.  The secret is to feign confidence.  Even when in doubt that you are wrong, always ‘project’ confidence.  All the techniques to succeed  in life are already available on the vast library of human knowledge called YouTube, but the majority of the population still try to go through life by trial and error, trying to reinvent the wh-

"May I help you? Are you lost?" says a pretty nurse sitting behind the Help Counter.
I tell her I am searching for Ron. "I have something important to give him."  I add.  I project confidence.   She looks at her computer.
"Sir , um, he's in room #104, but, it's not visi-"
"Thank you."

It takes me a while before I find room #104.  But before I walk right in and expose the fraud that Ron is, I hear the squeaky noise of a hospital bed being rolled out of the room. A nurse comes into view pulling out a bed.  I step back and watch.  On the bed is Ron with his eyes closed.  Except his head, the rest of his body is under a blanket. The blanket outlines a very thin body.  I panic. I wait till they turn around a corner and peek into the room.  I rush in.  I find medical records on the table.

'The patient is a 20-year-old male with genetic lymphocytic carcin-' WHERE THE FUCK IS THE WEIGHT??  Finally, after suffering through some more medical psychobabble, I find the weight that was taken a few days back:  '30 kgs.'


My weight about an hour ago was 38 kilos and 635 grams.  I have to lose 8 and a half kilos in 6 weeks! I feel my life crumble.

I don't remember getting out of the hospital room.  All I remember is that when I was wheeling myself towards the exit, the security guy stopped and said,
"Sir, what are you doing? You can't leave!"
It took me a moment to remember what had happened.  A nurse had noticed me stumbling along and had gotten me a wheelchair.  I was so lost in thought, and the wheelchair such a comfortable way to get around, I didn't complain or correct her that I wasn’t a patient although I look like one.  She then abruptly left me to handle some emergency, and I had been wheeling myself towards the exit.

I manage to convince the security guard that I am not a patient.  He finally lets me go, but not before giving me several suspicious glances.

I make my way back to the car without any falls.  Once inside, I feel renewed determination.  Sure, I have only 6 weeks left, but now I knew where my competition stood. This means, I now have something concrete to work towards, and I will be ready for the final showdown.


Six weeks later.

"So, doctor, we have been receiving a bit of criticism from the public that we are encouraging unhealthiness through this competition.  What’s your take on this?" the host says.
"First of all, let me correct you that not only am I a doctor, I am also a life coach and a motivational speaker," the doctor says with a proud smile, and then continues, "To answer your question, athletes in any sports push themselves to the limits unhealthily.  They don't have a joyride to the top.  We only see their toned body and a may be a few minutes of their performance where they perform as if it's a piece of cake.  But behind this are years and years of dedicated hard work and determination.  And they all go through health issues because our body wasn't made to be pushed to such limits, but the winners always solve these problems and keep going.  So, the question we must ask tonight is, are you a winner or a quitter?"
"Alright, thank you, doctor, for your clarification," the host says and turns to the crowd, “And Dr. Sanjay will also be presenting the trophy to the winner tonight."

I peek through the curtains and see Nancy in the audience with her ‘huge’ friends.  Guess they came prepared to cheer at my defeat.  Oh, I can't wait!

The host first brings in Ron.  Ron slowly walks in from the other side of the stage. He is held up by a man and Rosy.  There's a strained look on his face as he takes every step.  As if walking is a job too difficult for him.
Oh, the drama!

They help him climb on the weighing scale, and the digits on the LED monitors starts counting down from 100.  People cheer as the number crosses 50, then 40, and finally it stops at 32.


"Wow, this is- this is just unbelievable!" the dickhead host says and continues, "I mean this is-"
Rosy interrupts, "This has been a tough journey, but we are happy to have completed it, and I have my fingers crossed!" She looks proudly at Ron.
"Well, looking at the result, I don't think you will need to have your fingers crossed," the asshole of a host says with a fake 'wiping my sweat' gesture and the audience laughs and applauds.
"No, Dr. Sanjay, don't give them the trophy yet!" the host says turning to Dr. Sanjay who stood on the stage giggling, "We need to give the competitor a chance to compete, although, let’s be honest, we know who the winner is tonight."  The audience laughs and applauds.   The fuckers!
"Alright, so now, let's bring in the reigning champion!" the host says.
I direct my 2 helpers to push my wheelchair onto the stage.  I have a blanket over my body for suspense. If Ron thought having 2 people help him walk onto the stage was going to be dramatic, he was wrong. The host and the audience gasp at my entrance.  I don't react.  I maintain a blank expression on my face.  The helpers stop right next to the weigh-in scale.  I look at Ron and Rosy.  Rosy has this plastered nervous smile on her face.  Right at that moment, I wanted to break out into a laughter, but I don't.  The big reveal is still pending.  One of the helpers pulls off my blanket, and I sit up proud.  The entire audience gasps in horror overshadowed by admiration.  There is a loud noise as the host dropped the mic in reverence.

Yes, I amputated both my legs at the knees and my left arm at its elbow.  I left my right hand intact because I had plans for it; I like to think ahead.

One of the helpers then lifts me up and places me on the weighing scale.  The digits on the LED screen run down and dribbles to a stop at 26.

"YES!" I shout with my right arm held up high.  The audience murmurs.  Rosy looks horrified and ashamed.  She just walks off the stage while Ron tries to grab her back, but she just pushes him away. He stumbles and falls on the floor while Rosy walks away without a backward glance.  The audience gasps at this.  I look at Nancy. I grin at her. Mocking her. She looks shocked, as do her friends, although I am not sure if they would want to be her friends anymore.

This was taking way too fucking long!  I extend out my unamputated hand towards the trophy.  The host gingerly picks up the trophy and hands it to the doctor who then brings it to me with what I think is a look of awe on his face. I hold the trophy up in my right hand just the way I had imagined I would a thousand times over the past month.  The only difference being that the audience weren’t cheering and passionately tearing up as I imagined them to do in my visualization sessions.  I bet they thought I wouldn't win again.  Fuck em!

The End

Saturday, June 17, 2017

SWAPPED - The Final Part

Ajay was another 15 minutes into Game of Thrones when the door burst open again. This time, it was
the Boss with his gun-totting men along with Anu.

"What do 'you' want??" Ajay said feeling tired of men repeatedly barging into his house.
"Shut up and sit where you are! Your wife stole my money!" the Boss shouted at him.

Ajay nodded understandably as if this was an everyday occurrence and sat back down on the sofa to
continue watching GOT while the men turned the house upside down searching for the gold.

A couple of minutes later, one by one the men returned back to the living room.
"It's nowhere in the bedroom," one of them reported to the Boss.
"I searched the kitchen, nothing there too," said another one.
The others too turned up empty-handed.

Ajay sighed irritated at all the ruckus and frowned trying to concentrate on the GOT with
his one good eye. The Boss turned to look at him and felt his anger boil over. He grabbed the TV
preparing to throw it on the floor, when Ajay jumped up,
"No! Not the TV, please!!"

The Boss stopped, looked at him with a mixture of confusion and anger.

Ajay went down on his knees and begged,
"Please, break anything else but the TV!"

The Boss sighed and let go of the TV. He then searched for the power button and carefully switched
it off. Ajay sighed, relieved, but still troubled that he was missing out on GOT.

"There's a repeat tomorrow afternoon," Anu said to Ajay.
"Oh!" Ajay said looking up at her, his face lighting up with hope.
"Yeah! I was worried I missed it too because... of whatever all this is, but then I remembered that
there's a repeat tomorrow!" she added cheerfully.
"Oh! That's so good to know! I will make sure I...."
"BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP!!" the Boss shouted.

Anu got irritated and said,"She's not here! What are you going to do now? Let me go. I don't have
anything to do with this!"
"Of course, she isn't here! I synced her phone's location to mine, so I always know where she is!
I wanted to see if she hid the gold here, and now that we know it isn't here, we are going to go get it from her!" the Boss said with an evil smile, pulled out his phone and waited for it to pinpoint
her location. After a minute of awkward waiting, the phone chimed as it updated her location.

"Let's hurry up! I think she's trying to get out of the city!" The Boss said rushing out.


After about 10 minutes, the van came to a stop. Priya was forcibly pulled out as she kept
struggling. It looked like they were at a huge garage. It was dark all around except for
headlights from a road about a kilometer away.

"Let's go, dhidhi. My father is waiting for you," the Young Man said.

Priya struggled even more, but she was held by 2 strong men who dragged her to the garage-like

It looked like nobody was around, but once they entered, they noticed a group of men huddled around
a TV watching GOT. As soon as they saw that the Young Man had arrived, they all jumped up and ran
to their guard positions.

An old man in a wheelchair with a tube running through his nose and IVs in his hands smiled at her.
"No need to be scared, beta. I am going to make sure you are well-compensated for this," the old
man said, his voice weak from ill-health.

"Screw you!" Priya said, only to be slapped by one of the men holding her. The Young Man,
angered by the man's action, pulled out his gun and shot him in his chest. The man fell down
curled up in pain. As Priya watched in horror, the man stopped struggling with a final groan and was still.

"I am sorry, dhidhi, but he must have known by now that this is not how we treat our guests. Come,
dhidhi, let me get you comfortable," the Young Man said.

The man holding Priya gingerly accompanied her to a sofa and made her sit on it.

"We have a doctor here who is going to get the kidney out of you, and then we will take the organ
and my father to a nearby hospital and get it transplanted," he said. A man in a white coat
dutifully walked in from another room with an IV needle in his hand.

"The doctor said I can't give you anything to eat or drink, so would you like to have some IV fluids??"
the Young Man said with a smirk on his face and waited for her to get the joke. When she didn't respond, he motioned the doctor to go ahead with a disappointed look on his face. Priya struggled and tried to get her arm away while one of the men held her down forcibly. The doctor grabbed her arm and concentrated to find the vein to stick the needle in when gunshots were heard from the outside.

"What's going on??" the Young Man said jumping up. The men inside grabbed guns and rushed towards the door only for the door to burst open. The Boss walked in along with half a dozen men holding machine guns.

A moment of absolute silence prevailed while The Boss looked around the place, taking everything
in, and his eyes finally rested on Priya sitting on the sofa.

"So, I see you have a bigger operation that I anticipated," he said taking steps towards her.

"You will not touch her!" the Young Man said jumping in front of him.

The Boss stopped, looked at the Young Man from head to toe as if measuring him, then laughed.
“Is this all you got?? These scrawny 'kids'?? If you thought you can cheat me and get away with it, you are wrong! You fucked with the wrong man this time, bitch!" he said ending his monologue while the Young Man tried to make sense of everything that he said. All he understood was that this man, the Boss, was trying to humiliate him.
“You think you can come into 'my' home and talk down to 'my' face?” the Young Man said moving threateningly closer to the Boss.

Meanwhile, one of the Young Man's men, realizing they were understaffed, took out his extra gun and handed it over to the doctor. The doctor hesitated. His life's mission was to save lives, not to take them. All he wanted was to finish this darn operation and get the hell out of this place with his life. But the man insisted, pushing the gun to the doctor. He gingerly took it and held it up pointing at the Boss' men. The man motioned the doctor to cock the gun. The doctor had watched enough action movies to know what he meant. He steadied his shivering hand and proceeded to pull the slide back, but what he didn't realize was that this caused his finger on the trigger to squeeze it and as soon as he let the slide go back, his gun fired.

This caused the Boss' men to start shooting, and so did the Young Man's men.
“KILL THEM ALL!!” the Young Man shouted punching the Boss and both falling to the ground struggling and punching each other.

"Get my father away!" the Young Man shouted, in between the punching and getting punched, at the doctor, who put his gun down on the floor and rushed to the old man in the wheelchair. But bullets ripped through the old man killing him instantly. The doctor left him and ran to the other room.

Priya was still in shock, sitting all out in the open as bullets whizzed past her. She finally
came to her senses and ducked behind the sofa. A moment later, she realized that the sofa wouldn't protect her as bullets were passing through the sofa as if it was made out of butter. Keeping her
head down, she quickly crawled on her arms and knees to the room that the doctor had run into.
Once in, she shut the door. The doctor was quickly packing up his bag unaware that Priya
was in there. The room had a dirty table and surgical instruments on a tray close-by. She realized
this was where they were going to extract her kidney. In a rage, she rushed to the doctor who
turned around in horror, and kicked him between his legs. He fell down holding his crotch and
groaning in pain.

She looked around and noticed another door. She opened it and ran outside. There were
cars parked around that weren't there before. Gunfire continued from the inside. She noticed the faint headlights from the road far away. She decided to make a run for it.

That's when she heard thuds and muffled voices. She stopped and listened. It was from an SUV, the
Boss' SUV. It was Anu and her husband.

She tried to open the door, but it was locked. Finally, she found a huge rock and broke the
window. Anu's hands were bound. She tried to untie the ropes when a bullet hit the
passenger side door of the SUV. No, there was nobody trying to kill them. It was a stray bullet from
all the fire exchange happening inside the garage. A sense of urgency came over them. Priya pulled Anu through the window. Then helped her up and started to run towards the road. More noises from the SUV.

"Its Ajay!" Anu said running back to the SUV, but Priya got hold of her and pulled her back
towards the road saying,
"We don't have time! Lets get out of here!"

Ajay managed to push himself out through the broken window and fell down on the ground. He stood up and saw Priya and Anu running towards the road. Right then, a stray bullet hit him in his leg, and he fell down on the ground. He shouted for help, but Priya and Anu kept running without a backward glance.

A few minutes later, they reached the road. They could no longer hear the gunshots. May be it was over or may be the noises couldn't reach all the way out here, but they didn't want to wait to find out. They could hear sirens in the distance.

Now that she had stopped running and the adrenaline was wearing off, Priya felt a sting in the
right side of her abdomen. It felt wet. It was blood. She had been shot.


When Priya woke up, she was in a hospital bed. Her wound bandaged. Anu sitting next to her.

"What happened to those bastards?" Priya said.
"Most of them are dead, including your boss. The cops arrested the ones that survived," Anu said.

Priya sighed and looked at the TV running at the end of the ward. It was a news channel showing
the blurred images of the shootout site.

"What do you mean you can't put Game of Thrones in here??!" a familiar voice shouted from the bed at the end of the ward.
"Sir, this is a hospital, not a movie theater!" the nurse shouted back.

"Is it...." Priya asked Anu.
Anu nodded grimly.

After a while, Priya got up fighting her pain and dragged her IV stand to Ajay's bed. He had a huge bandage on his leg, and his face was swollen.

"Hi, Ajay. I need to talk to you about something that's been long overdue.." she said with a guilty look on her face.
"Well, me too! I dont know anything about what all those people wanted, but I know what I want!! A
fucking divorce!" he shouted.
"Okay," Priya said, taken aback.

A few moments of uncomfortable silence prevailed while both avoided each others gaze.
"Okay, I will just be over there in my bed," Priya said finally turning back, then hesitated and turned back to him and asked, "Is there anything else you want to ask? Any....."
"I do have one thing to ask!!" Ajay shouted back. Again, a few seconds of dramatic uncomfortable silence prevailed. Priya wondered if she was supposed to specifically ask him what it was that he wanted, but then thankfully he added,
"The new TV that we bought?? It's mine!! I get to keep it!"
"Okay," Priya said blankly. Once again, Ajay avoided her gaze.

Priya finally turned around and gingerly made her way back to her bed when she
noticed someone very familiar in one of the beds. It was the Pani Puri guy! She pushed away the
privacy screens and rushed in. He had bandages around his head and most of his body.

There was nobody at his bedside. She took the opportunity to try to wake him up and ask him where the gold was. A girl walked in.
"Who are you??"
"I.... is he alright??" Priya said.
"My brother is in a coma," the girl said sorrowfully.
"Oh!.... Listen, can you ask him to call me when he wakes up?" Priya said jotting down her number
on a paper at the table beside him.
"The doctor said he might never wake up," the girl said, her voice breaking.
Priya ignored her, finished writing her number, then smiled awkwardly at the girl and left.


A month later, the Pani Puri guy's family brought him home. He was still in a coma, but they
couldn't afford the hospital bills, so they decided to instead take care of him at home.

The neighbors complained about the stink from his pani puri pushcart which had been lying their
untouched for a month since the accident.

The sister pushed the cart to the end of the slum where there was a huge concrete dustbin to throw away the rotten pani puri masala, rotten samosas and other eatables.

"We already cleared out the dustbin, hand it over here!," said the garbage truck driver.

The girl handed him the spoilt pani puri masala, and the man dumped them into the back of the truck.
What neither of them noticed was a small cloth pouch at the bottom of the masala that fell into the garbage. After they finished emptying everything, the driver locked the backdoor and got
into the driver's seat as he watched the girl push the cart back into the slum. He lit up a cigarette as he always did at the end of his workday, then turned on the ignition and started his long drive to the landfill.


Sunday, June 11, 2017


"We found the guy who stole the card," Priya said.
"That's good! Where is he?" the Boss asked.
"He... he died," Priya said.

The Boss sat back in his seat, looking ahead at the deserted street through his windshield, silent for a few seconds.  He clicked his tongue and murmured something.
"What?" Priya said, frowning.
"I said, it's all so convenient.  Someone steals my money and then 'conveniently' dies.  Am I supposed to simply forget about the money??"

Priya was quiet trying to assess what he implied.  The Boss sighed and reached forward to retrieve something from the glove box.  A metallic click followed.  From the passenger seat, Priya got a glimpse of its source.  A gun.  The boss turned around to face Priya with the gun pointed at her and said,
"I don't know what kind of a game you think you are playing, but I will give you 10 seconds to tell me where the money is."

Anu caught Priya's hand in fear.  Her nails once again dug into her skin.  Priya winced and pulled her hand away.

"Just relax, okay?  I.... I will get you the money.  Put down the gun and..." then it hit her, "My husband! It was you! You are keeping him as a hostage!"

The Boss looked confused for a moment, then recovered and brought the gun closer to Priya's face, saying,
"Enough of your stupid games! Is this some kind of a scam you run on rich men??  Tell me where the money is right now or.... HEY!!"

Priya had managed to push the gun up with her left hand while simultaneously managing to open the door on her side and slid out to the ground.  Anu tried to do the same with the door on her side, but before she could, The Boss jumped on her and grabbed her while she struggled.

Priya realizing The Boss was busy, got up and rushed towards the concrete seat at the bus stop for cover.  The Boss squeezed out 2 shots in her direction, but missed her as Anu kept struggling.  The Boss turned his attention on Anu for a moment and hit her on her head with the butt of the gun, and her body went limp in her seat.  He cursed and locked the doors.  He rolled down the front passenger side window.

Priya had managed to reach the concrete seat and hid behind it.

"I got your friend here.  I am going to kill her if you don't come out!" the Boss shouted.

Priya, her heart racing, peeked over the concrete seat and saw The Boss pointing his gun at Anu's limp body in the passenger seat.

The noise of an oncoming vehicle could be heard.  May be she should wave down for help.

"I want that money, you bitch! I am going to count till 3...."

The vehicle urgently rushed towards them.

"1..... "

The vehicle, a van, screeched to a stop right in between them, blocking her view of the SUV.  Then gun shots echoed through the night as someone from the van shot at the SUV.  Not a moment later, The Boss fired up the SUV and raced down the road and took a left turn vanishing out of their sight.

Priya sat hidden behind the concrete seat as she heard the van's door slid open and someone stepping out.  She had another peek.  A young man was walking towards her with a gun in his hand.

"You are safe, dhidhi.  You can come out now," The Young Man said.  He put away his gun and waved his empty hands at her.  Priya recognized him,
"YOU!!" Priya shouted, "I told you to stay away from me!"

"But dhidhi, I saved your life.  I have had my men follow you for months.  I thought I lost you tonight, but I remembered how you spent a lot of time with that man, so I asked them to follow him instead.  I knew something was wrong," he said taking more steps towards her.
"Stay away from me! Dont take another step!" Priya said drenched in sweat and her body shivering in fright.
"I wont hurt you, dhidhi, you are very important to me..... and to my father," he said continuing to walk towards her.
"No, no!  HELP!! HEEELP!!" she shouted desperately on the deserted road.  The Young Man rushed towards her pulling out what looked like a metal rod from behind him and hit her right across her face, knocking her out.


When Priya came to, she realized she was in the van.  She was lying on the floor while 4 men sat on the seats around her.  Priya freaked out and sat up, looking around desperately for a way out.

"Oh, dhidhi, you are awake!" the Young Man said from the front seat and then got up and headed towards her, swaying and holding onto the sides for support as the van rocked on the bumpy road.

"What do you want??" she said.

"You know what I want, dhidhi, but more importantly, I want to help 'you.'  I will give you whatever you want.  I can give you lots of money if that's what you want, dhidhi!" he said with a forced smile.

"What? After killing me and taking my kidney??" she said.

"I wont kill you, dhidhi.  Okay, unless my dad needs another kidney in the future, then may be," he smiled and waited expecting her to find the humor in it, but then disappointed, continued, "The doctor says my father has some kind of a rare type, and you are the only one we could find that is a match.  And believe me, we have searched everywhere.  And here, lemme prove to you that I am someone who keeps his word," he said taking out his phone and dialing a number.


Ajay's left eye was swollen shut, but he could see fine through his right eye.  3 burly men stood in his living room making sure he stayed put on his sofa.  He looked at the clock.  It had been 15 minutes since these strange men barged into his living room and turned off the TV and beat him up.  Every time he tried to ask them what this was all about, they just threatened to beat him up even more.  But every minute that passed was killing him from the inside.  There were just 40 minutes left of the Game of Thrones episode.  He 'had' to watch it, because the moment it was over, his social feeds would be filled with spoilers from his psychopathic friends.

He finally gathered up his courage and said,
"How about I get you men some beers and we watch some TV together?" he said, smiling through his bloody face.

The burly men turned to look at him, with a scowl on their faces.  One of them rushed to him brandishing his fist to land another punch on his face, shouting, "WHY DONT YOU SHUT THE FU...." when his phone rang, and he stopped in his tracks.

"Leave the husband.  We got dhidhi," the mice-like voice from the phone said.
"Yes, sir," the burly man said, and motioned the others to move out.

Ajay sighed, relieved.  He had many questions as to what the hell all this was about, but he was more worried about the GOT spoilers.

"We will be watching you, so don't even think about doing anything!" the burly man said before he followed the others out and shut the door behind him.  Ajay gingerly stood up and plugged in the TV and continued watching GOT.


The Boss had driven for 15 minutes around the town, looking repeatedly at his rear-view mirror to make sure nobody was following him.  He finally hit the brakes.  Anu's limp body hit the back of his seat making her come to.  She felt a sharp pain in her temple, and it took her a few moments to recollect all the night's events.

"You will stay in your seat if you know what's good for you!" the Boss shouted at her looking at her through his rear-view mirror.
"Listen, I am in no way part of whatever is going on.  Just let me go," she said her voice quivering.

"You think I am dumb?!?  You and your friend are obviously part of some big scam.  Bet she's scammed a lot more rich men like me.  How else can she hire those men to protect her??  But she chose the wrong man this time!  Nobody can run a big business in this city like me without 'some' kind of a connection with the mafias.  If she thought I am all alone in this, she is wrong!  Time to get an army of my own into this shit!" The Boss said retrieving his phone.


To be continued in Part III.