Thursday, 4 February 2010

On Lawyers

A few weeks ago, I was out with a couple of friends, let's call them K and V, for dinner and a few drinks and K suddenly went of on a rant about how all lawyers were cunning thieves out to get as much money out of their clients as they possibly could and how the world would be a much better place without them. Now, I am a lawyer and I am used to my kind being generally disliked. I know that people of almost every other profession tend to liken us to those slithery, fork-tongued, often venomous creatures which slide around in the grass looking for prey. You know, like the one that offered the fruit to the naked lady? And I'll tell you now that I am not overly fond of my kind, either. I mean, I am not excessively enamoured or awed by the profession, I don't build shrines to the blindfolded goddess of Justice and I don't hero-worship any practitioner of the law, though I do have a lot of respect for many of them. I also know that many of us are slimy, corrupt, cunning, opportunistic, boorish, dishonest, heartless, thoughtless, ruthless, remorseless, selfish, greedy, unjust, lying sons of whores and I will, therefore, also take a lot of flak on account of the doings of those particular lawyers, because I know people need to unload their frustration on someone, preferably from the same profession, and I am generally magnanimous enough to just smile, empathise and crack a few lawyer jokes and let it be. I don't need to stand up for my fellow lawyers, they can do that for themselves. What gets me mad is when a whole profession (or a whole anything, really) is based on the "evil" exploits of a few. To say that the world would be better off without lawyers just shows ignorance and stupidity. It didn't help that both K and V are engineers. Well... actually, no, V holds an engineering degree, but has switched to marketing the product that is manufactured by the company he works for, which is why he was trying his best to be neutral throughout conversation... and failing. K, on the other hand, IS an engineer who specialises in the oil and natural gas sector, an industry which is systematically raping the planet and spending billions of dollars on making sure that no one can do anything about it. He will defend it till he goes blue in the face and then proceed to judge me (I say "me" because he specifically pointed at me and used the words "you lawyers..."). He will turn "realistic" when I talk about alternative sources of energy and then quickly hop onto the "idealism" train of thought when the topic of lawyers is brought up (Wouldn't you rather rid the world of its dependence on oil than ALL the lawyers in the world?). He then said engineers are much more important to the world than lawyers. Engineers are important, I said, and so are lawyers. The degrees of their importance varies as per the situation and the work required to be done. Neither can do what the other does. So then he pointed to some random objects, the table, the chairs, the cutlery, the beer bottle, and said, none of these things would have been here if it weren't for engineers like him. I agreed, and then informed him that the beer he was drinking was made by a company which lawyers like me had helped incorporate and that also went for pretty much everything he had pointed at, and then said that the country, of which he was a citizen, was functioning because of a constitution written by lawyers like me, which gave him the fundamental right to walk into this restaurant, which was probably set up with legal advice from lawyers like me, and expect a certain standard of cleanliness thanks to a health and hygiene code drafted by lawyers like me and also reasonably good quality of food thanks to food safety and standards rules drafted by lawyers. Like me. I also informed him, that without lawyers like me, the Indian economy would come to a total stand-still, if not collapse. See, all the foreign direct investment that the media is raving about, that you applaud and are thankful for everyday? We bring it in. No you don't, that's MNCs. Sigh. I tried to explain FEMA and RBI regulations to him, I tried to tell him that the law is complicated and one does not just set up shop in India. Every single foreign company comes to Indian law firms and lawyers take them through the whole process of setting up a business here. But it was quite pointless.

And then, K made an argument which was so naive, I was totally flabbergasted. He said, "When we engineers are asked to make a design and fail to deliver, we don't get paid. But you bastard lawyers, you demand your fees even if you don't win the case for your client. That is just unfair." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I felt exasperated and didn't even feel like pointing out the fact that litigators are NOT the only lawyers. I am a corporate lawyer, I don't generally go to court. But, okay, let's stick only to the litigation aspect of the profession. People who don't get this, need to understand this once and for all... it is not a lawyer's job to WIN your case for you. It is a lawyer's job to REPRESENT you in a court of law to the best of his/her abilities in strict accordance with the law. No self-respecting lawyer will guarantee you a judgment in your favour, s/he will simply tell you what s/he thinks your chances are. He won't give you guarantees because he can never know for sure. Witnesses turn hostile, judges are paid off/have mood swings, YOU might be lying, evidence might disappear, new facts might arise etc. etc. This is the human, social realm we're talking about and there are no certainties, unlike the laws of physics and mathematics which engineers work with. The law of gravity WILL apply to everything. The fundamental right to life and personal liberty may or may not apply to you depending on a set of certain circumstances. And judges are human beings as well. What if your client's name is Mohammad-al-Rashid and the judge comes over all glowy when someone mentions Veer Savarkar? What if the judge thinks that all women who stay out late at night are women of "loose moral character" and your client was raped in an alley at 2:00 a.m.? What if you take your neighbours to court for blaring Om Jai Jagdish Hare at 350 decibels at 4:00 a.m. every morning and it turns out that the judge secretly wears saffron underwear and believes waking up early in the morning is the best way to combat alzheimers? We are not paid to win cases. We would like to. The more we win, the more cases we get. Our livelihoods depend on it, so we have something at stake too. But we charge for the hours put in by us. You CAN do your best and still lose, you know. I tried to explain unforeseen circumstances to K with an example. Suppose you built a perfectly functional and viable building and there's an earthquake and it crumbles. Would you not get paid? He dismissed it, saying that was force majeure, and that he wouldn't be liable for that anyway. Which was funny, because force majeure was a legal maxim created by lawyers. Like me. To protect the interests of people in such situations, which includes engineers. Like K. And then they come back and tell us the world would be a better place without us. I out-argued him on just about every point he put forth, but ultimately he decided we should end the argument because I would never be able to convince him, because his mind was already made up, and I said thank god you aren't a judge! Bah!

P.S. I may not have painted K in the most flattering light here, but rest assured he is a smart, funny and entirely likable person. He just has some weird ideas about certain things. I could have better articulated some his arguments here, but I am in lawyer mode and my aim right now is to present my arguments in the best possible way. See what happens when you aren't adequately represented?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

For Michael Jackson, My Childhood and Me

I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. I must have been 8 or 9 years old. My parents had recently gotten cable TV installed in our home and it had become a part of my daily routine, after coming home from school, to eat lunch while watching whatever I found interesting on the telly. This day was no different. I was surfing channels while chewing my food and I came across MTV. A video had just ended and another was about to begin. I waited hoping they would play some song I liked (I was a big Beatles fan already and I liked a bunch of other bands of that era thanks to my dad, but they hardly ever played any old songs). The video began curiously. A shot of a window in some dilapidated building, sounds of the city in the background. Suddenly, a blue ball bursts out of the window and as it bounces in slow motion on a puddle, you realise it’s a globe. A muffled sound in the background says, “1, 2, 3...” and then the beat appears with a bang! The bass sounds lays down the groove and the voices in the background are saying “You wanna get up and jam”. The camera rushes through garbage, ghettos, industrial wasteland, abandoned factories and then suddenly you’re running up a staircase of some old ramshackle building. There are quick shots of kids, their faces obscured in the shadow looking defiantly at you. And there he is silhouetted by windows behind him and he’s dancing. He’s moving like I had never seen anyone move before; he’s moving in a way I had never thought possible. The music is not like anything I had ever heard before. I was experiencing something completely new. Before I knew it, my plate was set aside, its contents unfinished and ignored and I was on my feet, silent staring at the screen transfixed and in utter awe. Michael Jordan appeared out of nowhere and this thin runt of a man was jumping around trying to get the ball off him and failing miserably. And in the next scene, the runt was trying to teach him how to dance and Jordan was failing miserably. What I was witnessing was the two biggest MJs of my childhood Jamming with each other. This was the first time I saw Michael Jackson, and I was hooked. Even as I watch the video now, I get goose pimples. Here was a man saying something simple, simply. “Let’s Jam!” he said, “It ain’t too much for me!” But his music spoke to your body like none other. Whenever I heard an MJ song, I needed to get up on my feet instinctively; you cannot listen to his songs without being moved in some way. After this first encounter, I had to hear all his songs, all his albums. My TV would be on just so that I could catch the next MJ video. I remember watching the video Scream completely mesmerised. Shot in complete black and white with minimalist techniques and the animal scream literally coursing through me and coming out of my mouth so loud, my mother would come running to see if I was all right, only to see me jumping around like the weird people on TV. I remember how Thriller scared the bejeezus out of me in the first werewolf sequence and how I laughed when the zombies danced. I remember watching the intensely, brilliantly choreographed Bad, with MJ’s signature “Ch’mmmon!” scream and the deriding taunts to prove your manhood in Beat It. I remember how I passionately expounded my knowledge about burning issues behind songs like Black or White, Heal the World, The Earth Song and how my friends told me they already knew what the songs were about and that they weren’t dumb so I could shut up now. I remember watching the video of In the Closet and drooling at Naomi Campbell and then quickly changing the channel when I heard my parents’ footsteps in the corridor. I remember walking on the pavement at night imagining the tiles lighting up with my footsteps like they did for MJ in Billie Jean. I remember our whole class singing They Don’t Really Care About Us, banging our tables in unison, our collective percussive strength making the walls shake. I remember how I made every song about me and my life. And then in a few years, MJ became lame, a freak, a laughing stock for everyone. The girls moved on to the boy bands and the guys moved on to “cooler” stuff, like Guns’n’Roses. I never liked either. But, I moved on too; more classic rock, alternative, metal, grunge, electronic, jazz, blues etc. But every now and then I would still go back to MJ. No one seemed to understand him anymore... the passion in his voice, the angry growl, the hiccup, the whoo! No complications with him, no abstractions, he just told you how he felt and nobody else did it like him. When the allegations of paedophilia arose, I found it a little hard to believe, and I still can’t be sure about the truth of the claim, but I always felt that his relationship with children was completely misinterpreted. In our society, when a man spends too much time with children, is too nice to them, too friendly, he is instantly looked upon with suspicion. Much like Reverend Flynn in Doubt. This exchange from the film sums it for me:

Flynn: Like you care about your class! You love them, don’t you?

Sister James: Yes.

Flynn: And that’s natural. How else would you relate to children? That I can look at your face and know your philosophy. It’s kindness.

Sister James: I don’t know. I mean, of course.

Flynn: There are people who go after your humanity, Sister, that tell you the light in your heart is a weakness. Don’t believe it. It’s an old tactic of cruel people to kill kindness in the name of virtue. There’s nothing wrong with love.

We can, of course, choose to believe what we wish. It’s easier for me to believe this, and he was acquitted. Which doesn’t really prove it of course, but nevertheless, I find the whole thing a little difficult to digest.

All I know is Michael Jackson was a huge talent. He choreographed his own steps, wrote, composed and produced his own songs, revolutionised music, reintroduced the video as an art form and a commercial vehicle and redefined youth culture. This thin, wispy, androgynous figure with a voice which perpetually stood on the border of puberty has spawned images (on his toes, doing the moonwalk, one hand on crotch the other outstretched, pointing to his left, holding the brim of his hat and leaning as if held up by a string) which are as iconic and instantly recognisable as Gandhi’s silhouette, or Einstein’s frizzy hair or Hitler’s toothbrush moustache or the half-bitten apple or the Nike swoosh. He was an enormous part of my childhood and the more I listen to him now, the more I realise why he has become such a cultural icon. It was because he sang about stuff everyone cared about in a language everyone could understand. He sang and danced with a force of a tornado and we were swept away. We couldn’t help but sing and dance along. He was the last of the great musical iconoclasts, the last true star of pop music, the last legend. His death was a jarring reminder to me of childhood’s end. I will miss you MJ. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Sleeping Beauty

I can’t wait for the day

When you will awaken

And squint in the cold paleness of the sun

To behold the light that has faded

Behind dark turbid clouds

And smell the flowers

That have died in your arms.

You will rise and falter

And your quivering legs

Will be your pillars

Which will balance your torso

Against the marauding winds

Which will blow the dead sands

Into small tornadoes swirling

At your toes.

You will see us

And know what we have done

And you will fight back.

Like two lions in the dust, we will clash

Until you stand victorious

And we lie slain and unmoving

In the fragile grey unyielding soil

Bloodless, breathless and bereft of life.

I can’t wait for that day

For the sun will shine once more

Because you asked him to

And flowers will burst from the barren earth

Because you willed them to.

Light will flood the firmament

A breath will burst out of the inanimate

Clad in the million splendid colours of life.

The dawn will come, resplendent and brilliant

Pregnant with new stories

Told in the language of fluttering wings,

Whistling winds and swelling river water.

This will be your world

Your theatre of vitality

Where the stage will be set for your presence

And your baton will command the music of dreams

A rich orchestral prelude set to the rhythm of time

Rising, rising in a rapturous overture

Until every vacuum is filled, every void engulfed,

Every hollow overwhelmed by the glory of your song.

The seas will part and stand muted in awe of your magnificence

And then you will dance...

You will dance...

in your arms my life

seems like a distant world

it is obscured by the boundaries of your elbows

bent over the nape of my neck

drawing me closer to your eyes

as the song of my breath

falls rhythmically on your breast

with the rise and fall of your back

against the crest of my conjoined fingers

the cadence of your whispers shot from your mouth

echo in the caverns of my ears

that ache for your voice

as your hold on me tightens

we form shapes and structures with our bodies

construct a tower of two in silence

muscles contort to grasp flesh and bone

soft static charges flow through our nerves

our veins illuminated with electricity

we are lightning, we are fire, we are vespers

we are a tower, we are a bridge, we are a lighthouse

in the sullen sphere of this closeted space

you and i collide and a world is born

Sunday, 26 August 2007


The sun had risen and birds were squawking their larynxes hoarse, flapping around, leaving little whiplashed slipstreams of air in their wake and generally disturbing the peace as far as Reverend Waker was concerned.

"Whatever happened to the sweet-sounding birds of yore?" he wondered aloud. "The ones that chirped and sang such bittersweet harmonies. Such gentle and graceful creatures they were. They seem to have disappeared altogether. The skies are filled with winged monstrosities now, blowhorning things out of their way in fits of flight-rage. Birds nowadays are perennially angry and violent."

Sol, who had been sitting beside the reverend in a solemn reverie, now looked up at the birds in silence. Angus had been painting the horizon quietly and with intense concentration. He now kept his easel aside and uttered knowingly, "It is a bio-evolutionary reaction, sir. We learnt this in our BASTARDISE classes."

"What did you say?" asked the reverend, turning the shade of a particularly ripe nectarine.

"Biological Adaptation, Structural Transition And Responsive Development In Species' Evolution. The name's too long, so we use the acronym. Why? Is there something wrong in shortening nomenclature? Am I being disrespectful in some way?"

"Er... no. No. But somehow, it didn't sound right. No matter... you may continue."

"Well, we were taught that as the wheel of time turns, certain things must change. There are changes occuring everywhere and in everything. The direction of the wind, the magnetic polarisation of the earth, the seasons and even nature itself is constantly changing. Baron Chickenfeed's Theory is that 'all change occurs for the better as, is proved in eventuality', though, there are a large number of people who are completely opposed to this line of thought. They are called the Pessymists (in ancient Caldubine, the word 'pessym' approximately amounts to fault, but it also means finding dearth in something or seeking a situation which creates the need for an excuse). Now, most living creatures need to be physically prepared for nature. In other words, a creature must be able to survive on earth, and survive comfortably. It must be able to cope with all the natural changes that are thrown at it. Thus, every specie is slowly but surely changing, mutating and adapting to nature so that it can survive and reproduce. All creatures through long bio-evolutionary processes discard what is useless and superfluous in their body and develop certain traits that they require."

"So what, pray tell, does the BA...... er... this subject or theory have to do with birds squawking their lungs out?"

"Well, one only has to look at the history of birds to realise that their constant squawking is a BITCh."

"Look here, young man! I realise that I am a fairly level-headed and liberal sort of priest, but even I cannot permit you to use such obscene language in the presence of your brother. He is just a child!"

"But sir, we were taught about BITChes at University."

"What kind of a University teaches its student such things?"

Angus raised his head to the morning sky with pride, pointed his finger heavenwards and striking an imperious pose, declared, "The best."

"Well in my time, no university taught such things and children uttering such words were given a sound thrashing."

Angus looked puzzledly at Sol. Sol smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He picked up a stone and threw it as far as he could, then got up and dusted his trousers off and said, "Perhaps, in your day, no one knew what a BITCh was. Its quite an important concept, sir, too fundamentally important to science, for us to ignore. It is a basic concept in the study of life."

The master seemed to hesitate. "Um... what is a... er... what does that word mean?"

"A BITCh, sir, is a Biologically Inherited Trait or Characteristic." Sol replied.

"Ahem... Oh... I see."

"It is a concept of far-reaching importance in our understanding of life itself," Angus continued. "You see whatever we are today, physically, emotionally, culturally, socially and morally, is the result of a long string of changes that occured due to our adaptation to the world and our constant struggle to survive. It is believed that man once had hair all over his body and even a fifth finger!"

"Yes, I've heard that. Hah! That's a laughable idea."

"Nonetheless, some historians are sure that these things did exist, and that it was what we call BASTARDISE-ation that changed our bodies to what they are now."

"That's tripe! All creatures were created by the Creator. And they were created as they are now."

"But, sir," offered Sol, "supposing there was a creator and he did create everything, isn't there a chance he could have made mistakes? And having realised these mistakes, maybe he wanted to change the things he created... as a sort of... correction or... repair."

"Nonsense!" bellowed the reverend. "The Creator is perfect, and so are his creations! He's never made a mistake in his life and never will!"

"But, sir," argued Angus, "if you'll let me tell you the history of birds, you'll realise that this theory does make a lot of sense."

"Bah! Go on..."

"Birds were singular creatures, often extremely intelligent, yet very often, extremely stupid. Though most could fly, some were flightless. Some were soft, gentle and vulnerable and drank only the juices and nectar which they obtained from flowers, inflicting the least amount of damage possible, whereas some would bite, strike, hunt, maim and kill prey in order to devour them in a most barbarous and ravenous fashion. However, over the years, birds evolved and became slightly civilised. They became thinking creatures, somewhat like man, but not at the same level. They developed a primitive system of morals. They saw that due to the hunter-prey situation, most non-preying birds were dying out, so the weaker birds formed a sort of union and revolted against the stronger ones. The weaker birds decided, that each of them will constantly keep a vigil for the preying birds. If they saw a preying bird they would instantly scream, warning the others of approaching danger. This has led to a number of problems. Apart from the incessant noise that results from this, there's also the fact that most birds don't have very sharp eyes. So one of them may think that there is a preying bird lurking around nearby and scream, thus causing much mass hysteria, when really, it may have been nothing but a distant zeppelin, floating around, minding its own business. Mass paranoia has engulfed the world of birds. There voices have subsequently evolved into shrill screams so that they can be heard even at a distance. There were some birds which had such weak hearts that a sudden loud sound would actually kill them. Those birds have now become extinct, for obvious reasons. So here we have an excellent illustration of BASTARDISE-ation."

"This is all poppycock!" The reverend was livid and fuming with rage. His eyes were bloodshot and were about to burst out, and his fists were clenched so tightly that they were turning purple. "I cannot stand this blasphemy!"

"But, sir," Angus continued, calmly, "It really is quite a beautiful concept. It makes you think about life and humanity in a different perspective. It tells you that we are all equal and that we are all brothers in a way."

"Yes," said Sol, joyfully, "The same BASTARD exists in each and very one of us. We are all products of BASTARDISE-ation, and therefore, we are all one."

"Stop this, I tell you!"

"Why," Angus said, "just the thought of all of us sharing the sames BITChes gives me goose pimples! Every single BITCh we have is something we share with all of humanity. Isn't it wonderful?"

"Stop! I order you to stop!" The reverend clamped his hands over his ears and seemed as though he were in physical agony. But, Angus and Sol were so immersed in the topic that they couldn't even hear him.

"It is spectacular!" screamed Sol. "Just imagine how deep this theory really goes! It defines so many things. Everything we have in our bodies is a BITCh! Everything we have now is a result of BITChes our ancestors had! Our progeny and their progeny and all our successors will have new and improved BITChes! Our BITChes unify us all! Our BITChes are our link to the past and our step into the future! They are our inheritence and define our place in the world! They will be our legacy once we are gone. Everything that we are or will be shall be defined by BITChes. BITChes are our identity! In fact, going strictly by the definition, every non-artificial thing given to us by our ancestors and our parents, is a BITCh! Our parents gave us our very lives! Therefore..."

Both Angus and Sol shouted gleefully in unison, "Life is a BITCh!"

gggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!" the reverend screamed. The scream was so loud that it even startled the birds in the sky, who were generally used to constant loud noises. His scream echoed into the horizon and then there was sudden silence.

"This is unbelievable!" growled the reverend. "They teach children heresy in school! It is the reign of the destroyer! The evil one is upon us and he will destroy everything that is sacred and holy!"

The reverend's head now looked like an unusually large tomato and it was throbbing like a plate of disturbed jello. He tore fistfulls of hair as he shrieked and saliva blubbered out of his mouth. He looked like a raving lunatic.

"I will not have this!" he spluttered. "This has to end! I'm going to burn the University down! I'm going to destroy the books and kill the teachers that put such evil ideas in your head! Oh Lord! Save us! Apocalypse is on us. You boys will never go to that University again! It is the seat of all evil! It teaches you that the Creator made mistakes? That is a lie! That is blasphemy!"

"But, sir," Sol said timidly, "isn't it possible that...?"

"NO! It isn't! The lord, our Creator makes no mistakes! He is the nameless ideal! He can do no wrong! You hear me?"

"In that case, sir" said Angus, calmly (though, a touch annoyed), "How do you explain what you call the devil or the destroyer? He tries to destroy and corrupt everything that the creator has made, by your own admission. Wouldn't you say creating him was a bit of a boo-boo on the creator's part? Or is he just sadistic and wants to destroy everything and make everyone suffer for the simple joy of it?"


Suddenly, there were numerous sparks all over the reverend's body and he, inexplicably, burst into flames. He uttered a horrific scream, and in an instant, he disappeared.

There was a silent pause for a moment and then everything went back to normal. The birds started squawking again, the wind started blowing again, the trees started rustling again. Everything was back as it had been. It was as if nothing had happened.

Only Sol and Angus remained rooted to where they had been standing. They stared at the spot where the reverend had been sitting. There was no trace of him now. Not even a speck of ash.

"What was that?" asked Sol, after a long silence.

"I've heard of this," Angus replied. "Master Wu Li Zentao had told me about this. It is called Spontaneous Combustion. No one has ever been able to explain it."

"Really? Master Wu Li actually axplained it to you?"

"No. He just randomly said 'Spontaneous Combustion' one day and I went to the library and read about it."

"What shall we do now?" asked Sol.

"We shall go back and pretend this never happened." replied Angus.

As they walked away, Sol asked, "But what do you think happened? There has to be some rationale behind this. There has to be. Right?"

"Well," Angus replied, "I think the creator realised he had made a mistake. So he erased it."

Saturday, 25 August 2007


If you were to follow the river Hoogliffey from where it falls into the Oceanbay Sea to the Gotrigan glacier, where it is born, high, very high up in the mighty Mount Ane, somewhere in between, you would come across a big city called Caldub. Caldub is a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis where many thousands of people live and work. It has tall skyscrapers, massive palaces, castles and forts, huge parks, green gardens, numerous schools, theatres, restaurants, museums, cars, buses, trains, trams, people and animals. It has everything you would expect a big, important city to have. In fact, it even has large wooded areas around it. The river Hoogliffey flows past the South-Western edge of the city and across the river, surrounded by lush, green wooded areas and quite detached from the city, lies the great Caldub University. It is renowned all over the known world for the immensity of its grounds and for its history of spawning great minds in just about every field of any importance. The University grounds are indeed vast, containing large wooded areas, numerous playing fields, parks, gardens, big buildings of both Gothic and modern strains, academic blocks, hostels, libraries, galleries, museums, gymnasiums, residential blocks and stadiums. In fact, there is a building of particular importance in the premises and that is called the Mystic Lotus Hall of Assembly.

And here, at this very moment, in fact, there is a huge gathering of young men and women. It is the first day of the academic year and the new batch of students are being welcomed by senior students and teachers alike. Hundreds of students have filled the hall and there is scarcely any place to move. We see a multitude of faces talking to each other, some laughing, smiling, some worried, some scared, some annoyed, angry. It is quite a gathering here. Let us close in on two young men. Though eavesdropping is indeed a bad habit, we shall listen in to what they are saying, simply because if we were to stand around doing nothing, our journey would end right here. So here we see two young men, both of similar height and build. One has dark hair combed back neatly, a pair of sharp and alert eyes, which seem to be looking for something or someone, a sharp nose and thin lips. He walks purposefully, seemingly preoccupied and ostensibly quite hassled. The other has quite a striking shock of white hair, peculiar for his age. He has softer features, is quite fair and has a pair of bright blue eyes and a thin white goatee on his chin. He seems just the opposite of his companion. He walks with a swagger, perhaps hardly aware that he is walking, and has a constant smile stuck on his face. The white-haired boy speaks first:
"An' whar is yer bonny bruthar, Angus meladdy?"
"If I knew where he was, I wouldn't be searching for him, would I? This blasted crowd isn't letting me move and that boy's nowhere to be seen."
"Ye means, ye cannae find yer own bruthar? Ha! Angus, soul o'mine, yer such a loose-buttoned ol' toot, ah tells ye."
"Oh keep quiet, O'Leander. My brother is about average height and has just about no distinguishing features at all. He's not the type who'd stand out in a crowd, you know."
"Well, tell us wha' 'e looks like, then. Ah shall busy me baiby blues to locate yer darlin' li'l cubling."
"I just told you. He's about average height and build. He has fair hair, brownish I'd say. He has deep brown eyes. His nose is like mine. And you'd better keep your eyes open because you almost knocked that poor child over, O'Leander you stupid simian!"
O'Leander turns to the girl in question and makes a gesture of apology.
"Ah'm sorry, luv. Didn't mean tae push ye like tha'. Nae 'arm dun, eh? Nuthin' broken ah 'ope?"
The girl, a little disoriented, manages to smile and shake her head graciously.
"Good gurl. 's okay, she'll live. Let's move on."
"You really ought to look where you're going O'Leander. That girl was scared out of a year's growth back there."
"Fergit aboot tha'. Angus, ol' dear chummy, ah 'ave tae ask ye a qustion."
"Wha' does ye think o' this 'ere new Club summa the guys back in the 'ostel 'ave started, eh?"
"Do you mean the Requiem Club?"
"Yea, ah does mean the requiem club. Wha' does ye think. Ye fancy joinin' it?"
"It sounds interesting, if not a little a morbid."
"Yea, bu' wha' is life, ah says, if i' ain't go' a li'l morbidity, a li'l macabreness, a li'l moroseness, eh?"
"Hmmm... I'll have to think about it."
"Oh cam aun, Angus fella-mehearty! It'll be murderous fun! An' thar'll be loads o' pretty li'l ninotchkas joinin' too."
"Ah! So that's why you want so badly to join, eh? Well, I have my doubts about any 'pretty little ninotchkas' joining, but the club itself sounds like an interesting idea. I'm pretty sure its not going to be too easy for us to join, though. There will be some sort of criteria for membership. They won't just let anyone in, you know? I'm sure there will be interviews or initiations or the like."
"Nae, me pal, heart o' me hearts, there ain't. None fer us, at least. Ye see, yesterday, this boy comes up tae me an' asks me whether ah'm interested in joinin' this 'ere Requiem Club. S' ah says to 'im, ah says 'sounds good bu' ah'll have tae ask Angus, me buddy, an' ye'd bluddy well wait until ah've asked 'im'. S' then, this blighter, 'e asks me, 'oo is this 'ere Angus? An' ah says, 'Ye don't ken Angus? Angus Telum? The luvliest person on this 'ere planet, an' a great pal o' mine, too. You can rest assured, tha' if 'e ain't joinin' then I ain't joinin', either.' S' this fella is just waitin' fer me word, an' ah'm waitin' fer yers, see?"
"A likely story, O'Leander. I bet it was the other way around."
"S' wha'? S' wha' if i' was? Oh, awright! I' wis Stamford 'oo came tae me an' wis askin' fer ye. An' ah says ah don't rightly ken yer whereaboots, bu' ah could readily pass on a message. S' 'e says tae me tha' ah should ask ye whether ye are interested in joinin' the club. An' ah asks 'im if ah could join too. An' he looks hesitant, an' ah says tha' ye wouldn't join if ah couldn't. S' 'e says awright, then. S' wha' does ye say. Shall ah give 'im the nod, eh?"
"Very shrewd, O'Leander."
"Yea or nae. Jus' give me the word."
"Listen O'Leander, don't pester me. I'm a little preoccupied right now. I'm in no postion to make any decisions. Why don't you decide and do what you think is right?"
"Awright, then. Ah decide tha' we shall join. Ye an' ah are goin' tae be members an' when an' if we find yer bruthar, we shall ask 'im too. Jolly good gumdrops, then!"
"Whatever you say, O'Leander."
And saying this, Angus walks away from O'Leander weaving his way through the crowd. O'Leander stays rooted to the spot, not bothering to move and shouts out to Angus: "S' ah'll tell 'im?"
A boy pushes his way through the crowd and comes to O'Leander and says, "Yes?"
O'Leander looks at the boy, puzzledly.
"Ah beg yer pardon?"
"You just called me."
"Nae, ah didnae call ye."
"But, you just called my name."
"Ah, don't even knae yer bally name, child."
"Oh, all right. Sorry then."
And he turns to leave.
"Nae, wait a minnit! Come back."
The boy retraces his steps.
"Wha's yer name, boy?"
"Sol. Sol Telum."
"Well, bustlin' babelfish! Ye is Angus's bruthar, ain't ye? Yer bruthar is scourin' the whole bluddy 'all lookin' fer ye, an' 'ere ye is. Crikey! You two 'ave the same nose! Thar was sumthin' in yer face looked like good ol' Angus. Why ah called ye back. Wha' a bloomin' coincidence! Wha' a luvly twist o' fate, eh? Ah'm so winnied ah'm afraid ah'll bust ou' o' me shirt!"
"Do you know Angus, then?"
"Ken 'im? 'e is practically me bruthar. Tha' makes us bruthars too, righ'? C'm'ere, bruthar mehearty, soul o' mine."
And he crushes Sol in a tight bear hug. For a moment Sol can't breathe. Then when O'Leander let's him go, he takes a deep breath, and the blood that has rushed to his head starts to disperse. O'Leander stretches out a hand to him.
"Me naim's O'Leander. Wight Rhett O'Leander."
Sol shakes the outstretched hand and immediately realises his grave mistake as it closes in on his, in a crunching grasp, so that he can feel each and every bone in his hand breaking simultaneously. After a few seconds of vigorous shaking, O'Leander lets his hand go and says, "Listen, we'd better find yer bruthar. 'e's 'assled as burnin' 'ell tryin' tae locate ye. 'e wen' this way. Follow me."
He proceeds to push everyone out of his way, much to their annoyance, laughing and saying, "Ah get i'! Ah says, 'S' ah'll tell 'im?' an' ye 'eard me say 'Sol Telum'! Ha! Ha! Ha! This is 'ilarious! Ah says, 'S' ah'll tell 'im' an' 'e thinks ah says 'is name! S' ah'll tell 'im an' Sol Telum! S' ah'll tell 'im an' Sol Telum! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
And Sol follows him giving apologetic looks to everyone.
"S' Sol, soul o' mine, does ye fancy joinin' a real secret, mysterious, morbid, macabre, morose club?"

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


limbs awaken
the momentary chill
shivers through lithe digits
the perils of gravity and lightness
lost as light is submerged in vaporous breaths


velveteen shadows ride through the
rippled reflections of white moonlight
filtered through the filigreed branches

there is movement in the void

eyes are
watching you

twinkling like the stars that you can't see

your scent fills their lungs
your image fills their eyes
tonight they have come after