Clueless?


I am sorry for the dead silence for the past week. I have a list of reasons to explain the why. No, really I do.

I am back in college. I’m in the final year of my engineering now which means lots of stress from a lot of different sources, especially since I am still clueless about the ‘what next?’ part.

And if that wouldn’t stop me from reading and reviewing, there’s the added fact that my hostel internet has developed dead pockets which means I am reduced to trudging into other people’s rooms with my laptop in hand, just for five minutes of Facebook time.

I do have a line-up of unread books but they’re going to have to wait, as is my blog. Its hard to keep myself from picking one up and just diving in but there are more important things waiting for now.

Still, I am trying to find time to read, one chapter at a time. Usually at bedtime. So I am currently reading A Song of Ice and Fire Book Five: A Dance with Dragons. I love it, despite its slow pace. There’s a lot of character development here. I’ll review it sometime soon. Hopefully in the coming week!

Until then, stay happy!

Au revoir

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The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco


A novice named Adso under a monk- William of Baskerville alive in the tumultuous world of medieval Papal politics including religious factions and the Church; are sent to a monastery to investigate a series of bizarre murders that have put all the monks’ lives in disarray.  Armed with a sense of logical deducing and a progressive outlook towards knowledge and inventions William the monk is assigned the task of finding the culprit(s) in the midst of an abbey that is shadowed with hidden agendas, secrets, abominable acts and illicit activities, all the while embroiled in a debate of chastity versus fornication, poverty versus affluence, comedy and satire versus seriousness and solemnity.

And behind it all there is someone with a hidden agenda who is murdering these monks- to protect knowledge? To hide it? William realizes that the Aedificium which houses the library holds the very secret that is causing these grievous events to take place. But can he get to the mystery in time? Can he prevent the deaths and save the abbey? 

I indulged in a book that was different from the ones I usually read- The Name of the Rose is not a book to be taken lightly. Despite its easy blurb and appealing plotline, this novel takes you on a tumultuous journey through theological and philosophical questions/ Was Christ poor? Did Christ indulge in laughter? How do you distinguish heretics from the divine, blasphemy from the true words of God? Should the truth be rigid and inflexible, the word of the Scripture law or are these notions and ideas open to any kind of debate? Are mockery, satire, comedy and allegorical distortions that bring smiles to the faces of the youthful and easily misled novices worthy of being banned? These are just some of the hard-to-grasp questions this book raises.

William and Adso proceed in Sherlock-Watson like fashion. Adso is a truly devoted novice, not immune to the sins beyond which monks swear to live, but William’s progressive thought process and paternal adoration of Adso seems to make everything okay. Reader of signs and a harbinger of modern thoughts and ideas, William is the protagonist who draws attention to himself the most and makes you admire him, given the times in which he is said to live.

As the two of them proceed through the mysteries of the abbey and are introduced to more characters, some of the others leave an impression as well. There are monks indulging in sodomy, in carnal pleasures of thee flesh, in curious thirsts for knowledge, in pride and gluttony and jealousy. This book shows us an abbey renown for its rich and diverse library and as a place of learning but behind the scenes, after the lamps are extinguished and the matins conducted, these monks practice what they do not preach and give in to the sins they condone.

The revelation of the mystery was the best part of this novel. There is a sense of tragedy, of loss, of the transience of humanity in the way the story ties together but some questions are answered. Some rigidity is replaced with flexible truth and Adso picks up some valuable lessons.

Minus point? Some long drawn out allegorical passages linked intricately with Bible and its teachings. There are dreams and symbols and signs which I could not completely understand. Some of the passages on politics and the historical background of the time also did not appeal to me much.

Plus point? William’s speeches and lectures and his deductions are lucid and delightful. His world views are perennially modern. He is, indeed, a Sherlock Holmes of sorts- intellectually vain but almost always upon the right track, funny and serious in ways which are amusing but immune to the polarizing depths in which most men find themselves turned into gossipers, plotters and inflexibly, inhumanly attached to objects and philosophies which would be better off if consumed in moderation.

What’s Eating Dexter Morgan? Season 8 Episode 3!


[Show spoilers]

Things have finally picked up after a sluggish second episode!

Dexter is back in all his former glory: stalking, tracking, inspecting and yes, you got it: murdering!

In the opening scene of the third episode of this final season, Dexter wakes up in the middle of the night to the quiet summons of his son Harrison. There is a lot of blood everywhere in the kitchen…all the way to the bathroom flood where Harrison seems to have eaten a whole box of Popsicles and is now experiencing stomach ache…a pointless starting point but to me, every Harrison scene just echoes a mirroring of a son’s innocence against his father’s sins and shows how vulnerable this relationship makes Dexter all the time!

Debra on the other hand, is unwinding and the person she turns to for help is Quinn, which is creating problems for his relationship with Jamie. The Quinn side-story is still interesting me; be it the sergeant exam Angel so desperately wants him to pass or his girlfriend who seems to be grappling with issues while Quinn displays more and more affection for his broken ex-girlfriend.

Dexter does make headway with his sister- trying to prove to her that she is a good person, that as a cop she helped a lot of people survive and live on and for those reasons, somehow, having murdered LaGuerta is not as big a crime as she thinks. Contrary to his expectations however, Debra takes this as a sign that she needs to surrender and so, drunk to the hilt she ends up in Quinn’s arms back at the precinct, apparently to confess.

But while I had expected Quinn to be a lot brighter at figuring out the truth, it seems as if the writers are content at keeping him in the background for now because he immediately calls Dexter who, in turn enlists Dr Vogel (in whom he finally confesses about his recent souring relationship with Debra and highlights some of the reasons for it) to help out.

Speaking of Dr. Vogel, this not-so-innocent-new-mom receives two packages- tiny black boxes beautifully tied up with red satin bows reading ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ which contain thoughtfully cut out pieces of the brain (great). So Dexter realises that the new brain surgeon killer is onto him and yet he has no idea who this person is (and neither do we, which is strange, because every season so far the audience has known before Dexter does, exactly who it is he is up against).

So Dexter tracks down a former patient of Dr. Vogel’s who turns out to be a different sort of murderer. A cannibal who loves to stew human flesh and marinate brains (just yuck. But now we get the reference. What’s eating Dexter Morgan?).

See what we did there? Haha.

Interesting question: exactly how many of Dr Vogel’s former patients have turned out to be murderers and psychopaths so far? Three, if we count the still-anonymous brain surgeon. That is not very professional, doctor. Perhaps it is time to re-examine some of those unorthodox treatment methods of yours?
Unless you’re the psychopathic serial-killer you claim to be so afraid of yourself?

We’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

PS: Where is Yvonne?

Don’t stop watching! I’m on my way.

Dexter Season 8 Episode 2- ‘Every Silver Lining’


Doctor Evelyn Vogel is turning into a disappointment. After her spectacular declaration last week, this week she reveals herself to be a deeply caring, motherly figure who had had a big hand in turning Dexter into who he is today. As proof, she produces tapes of her conversations with Dexter’s dad Harry, back from when Harry had just discovered Dexter’s obsession with blood and gore. I guess that explains the kiddie drawings she had been carrying around. What it doesn’t explain is where she had been all these years and why, if she cares so deeply for Dexter, did she reveal herself to him in a way that would immediately put him on his guard and make him weary and uncertain towards her. All these questions seem to make it clear that she probably isn’t who she seems to be and there is some ulterior motive behind her sudden presence. Or else, she is just extremely selfish because she has now enlisted Dexter to help her out in figuring out the new killer, whom she claims could be one of her former patients since he has been sending the sliced out pieces from the brains of his victims to her in jars. Whatever it is, its clear that she is not just there to suddenly ‘mother’ Dexter and boost his confidence by telling him that psychopaths are actually a gift to mankind and necessary for our long-term survival as a whole.

New Mom or Another Complication?

Meanwhile, Debra seems to be letting her humanity slip away from her. Having compromised once, she doesn’t seem to be afraid to kill again and kill again she does, with no regards for any sort of codes and Dexter cleans the mess she leaves behind; tampering evidence and removing her blood samples from the scene of the crime. So Dexter WILL cover for her, even if she doesn’t seem to have any moral code to operate with. This episode in fact, made me feel a little more emotionally connected to both Dexter and Debra. In all the speculating about Dexter, I hadn’t so far felt any sympathy for  Debra and what she has been going through but she gets to me in the part where she tells Dexter, ‘I didn’t want to hate you. I wanted the opposite.’

Simultaneously, the Quinn story seems to be making some headway. I’ve always liked Quinn, despite his complete dirty cop routine and I am finding his little side story quite interesting actually because I think its going to lead him head-on into Debra and Dexter’s secret. He also seems to care a little more deeply about Debra than he seems to realize and what will he do when he stumbles unto the truth (which I am sure he will)?

There was also a funny moment with Angel and Quinn when they’re interviewing a suspect’s mother. I think all the main characters are going to end up at a convergence of sorts by the time this season wraps up.

The second episode didn’t excite me as much as the first did but Season Eight is still in its infancy and there is a long way to go before the pattern emerges. Stay tuned for more Dexter analysis!

The Childhood Connection Part Three


Part Three

 

By the time I stumbled back to my car, it was dark. That meant I had been out of my senses, lying amidst the trees in that lonely thicket for hours.

I felt disoriented and scared. A kind of panic had begun to set in on me. Because in my heart-of-hearts, I now knew the truth.

I had killed my parents.

That also meant I had killed that man last night.

As I started up my car, I was stuck with the realisation, I was a murderer.

But they can never prove it, a voice inside me said.

How does that matter? You are dangerous. You should be tested, you should be isolated from normal people, another voice said.

I took a deep breath. The second voice made sense. It was the voice of the part of me that was sane. If there was such a part. I needed to turn myself in. But before that, I needed some answers.

I drove straight home. My aunt was cooking. My stomach lurched. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat.

She seemed relieved to see me. ‘Sit down’, she said firmly. ‘I made soup.’

‘No’. I said adamantly. ‘I’m not hungry Aunt Emma, I need some answers.’

My aunt looked up expectantly. But did I see a flicker of emotion pass through her?

‘I need to know what happened to my parents. I never asked and you never told me. Nobody did. How did they die?’

My aunt looked hurt, as though the entire world she had created for us had suddenly crashed down around her. And it had.

We both stood silently for a few seconds. Then she sighed and came away from the stove. ‘Sit down’, she insisted. So I sat.

‘It was inexplicable what happened. The cause of death was never determined. It was as if their organs burst to shreds inside them and then ruptured through the skin. There were no wounds from the outside.’

My heart was pounding against my chest now. But I had expected a similar answer. Then I noticed that my aunt was looking at me strangely. It was as if she knew.

‘There is more’, my aunt continued reluctantly. ‘When your father was a toddler, his family was vacationing in the winters when your grandparents died mysteriously. Well apparently, there was a fire and someone close by saved your father but later on, it was discovered that your grandparents were dead before the fire reached them. They were covered in blood.’ She concluded.

My own blood was cold by this time. I looked down and saw that I had goose bumps. I looked up and there it was; behind my aunt- the apparition or whatever of my dad’s toddler. I could tell from its expression, that I knew what it knew now.

And that was what it had wanted me to know.

‘Help me’, it had said to me last night. And then somebody had died. An innocent man who happened to be nearby. Somebody who had nothing to do with this strange curse that my father had passed on to me. Who knows how he had got it? Had it been passed down through generations? But I had never dug up my family history. Hadn’t anyone else?

I focused back into the room. The apparition was gone. But my aunt was still there, surveying me in bewilderment.

And that was when I realised.

‘You need to leave!’ I told her.

‘What is it?’, she asked, frightened.

‘You need to leave this house now aunt Emma! Get as far away as possible.’

‘But…I am not leaving you alone!’ she insisted.

‘Don’t argue with me aunt. Please…you need to go.’

She sensed the urgency in my voice. I knew then that she trusted me. She turned to leave but I knew it was too late. I had seen it reflect in her eyes. Seen my demon reflect in her eyes.

‘No!’ I shouted, but it was too late. I leapt towards her but there was furniture in the way. Her back was towards me but she stood still and erect.

And then she began to fall. Like a replay from last night, I watched in horror as her body  twisted and turned on its way to the floor. I knew what was happening. I was causing it.

I should have turned away but there was no point now. Her blood was already staining the carpet beneath. Her body had already fallen.

I stood at a distance, surveying the pool of blood accumulate around her. Today I did not faint. I was no longer that person. The truth had transformed me.

 I watched as the blood trickled down her legs and softly spread on the surface of the carpet. I knew exactly how that blood felt; what its texture was like, how it smelt. Strangely, this thought now brought a smile to my face. The period of wonderment was over.

But now I knew I had to leave quickly. The thought of turning myself in had vanished in the moments I had spent staring at my dead aunt. There was so much more to the world. And I could be anonymous now.

I could be anyone. A grin tugged the corner of my lips at this thought and warmth spread through my body.

 

Monsoons, a Movie and a Book


Monsoons

While the north of India seems inundated with storms and rain showers, in the west so far Monsoons seem to be making a come-and-go-as-you-please appearance, making brief promises of a longer spell and disappearing just as easily. This evening though the weather turned fine and it rained a bit, the sky was overcast and for a change, I loved it. I think I am beginning to appreciate the clouds once more, even though I started hating rains after spending three years in Assam, where it never seems to stop!

Here’s a photo of the roads that I took today, from the back window of an auto. I love this picture, despite its assymetry. What I had been aiming to capture was a typical view of an Indian road during monsoons, that is to say, minus the potholes and mud that is a lot more common. Still, I think I did a good job with it:

2013-07-06 18.57.34

 

 

A movie

I watched Raanjhanaa today (do not ask why), staring Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor and a cameo by Abhay Deol. Despite its flaws and excessively dramatic plot, a lengthy storyline and the desire of the Indian Film Industry to cast its characters as absolutely black or absolutely white (God forbid we leave a shady character in the grey zone with the audience left to muse about his motives and intentions after all is said and done), I surprisingly enjoyed the movie.

This was because of the storyline, i think. Even though, give me a chisel and a knife and I would sharpen the character’s emotions, cut out the extra scenes and the abundant overflow of unnecessary dramatics, Raanjhanaa did a good job of telling a story with unconventional twists (for Indian audiences).

Set in the colourful lanes of Benaras and the shady corners of New Delhi, this movie starts out as a love story. We’re introduced to Kundan, a Hindu boy who will immediately strike you as bipolar and requiring psychiatric assistance, and Zoya- the beautiful young Muslim girl he falls in love with and woos with his perennial stalking and wrist-slitting. Kundan is quick to love Zoya and equally quick to abandon her in the name of ‘self-interest’ and then return again after having ruined another part of her to try and fix her once more- as I was saying, absolute nuts!

While a fourteen year old Zoya is easy for him to win over, a grown-up Zoya who returns from JNU is just as hard. However, Kundan tries to make up for all that with some more theatrics, involving more wrist-slicing. When he finds out that Zoya is in love with a smart young man (Abhay Deol) from her university- someone who has political ambitions and is embroiled in the fierce battle for power in the capital city, he reacts in much the same ways- moving between promises to help convince Zoya’s parents for her love marriage and expressing in some really bitter words that he’s never even going to utter her name again.

However, things take a darker turn in the second-half and both Zoya and Kundan find themselves in the midst of a political power struggle in New Delhi, involving hints of some very real political events. An embittered Zoya played by Sonam Kapoor is fun to watch and quite makes up for the lusty-bipolar-stalker-glorifying done in the first half of the movie.

All in all, despite some shaky dialogue delivery and mispronunciation, I think Sonam Kapoor did a good job. She carried off both the salwaar kameezes of Benaras and the kurti jeans street wear of Delhi’s JNU with equal grace and acted quite well (for herself). Dhanush’s character did not impress me which is perhaps why I did not enjoy him but that probably means he did a good job as an actor.

But the thing I liked about this movie, the thing that gave me a good feeling about even the weird and ugly bits, was the ending. Very unconventional, very un-Bollywood. Though it could have been more fine-tuned and clipped down, it was the ending that made me go ‘aha’ for this movie.

 

A Book

To go off in a completely different direction, I recently finished reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I think that the fact that this book keeps getting more and more outdated every year, despite having first come out only in 2005, is a testimony to Mr. Friedman’s terming the world as ‘flat’- that in today’s day and age, books about technology and globalization can actually sort of go out of context in less than a decade. Isn’t that kind of…scary?

I’ve always liked Mr. Friedman’s writing style- its personal, crammed full of anecdotes, engaging and even funny in places. He uses comparisons which are entertaining and very good at making you understand.

In The World Is Flat, he takes to telling us about how, indeed things that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the advent of the Internet and user-friendly web browsers and went on to outsourcing, off-shoring, uploading (he calls them flatteners) have changed the way we look and see and understand the world, its cultures, politics, relations, trading, expressions and self-identification.

He also devotes chapters to understanding how certain occupations have become obsolete in front of our eyes and how the education system, the political system and the approach of students in USA should accordingly be revamped to fit in with the changes in the world.

Mr. Friedman also devotes a lot of pages to analyzing relationships with India and China,; the factors pushing development in these countries, the challenges they have to face and the challenges the rest of the world has to face as these over-crowded, developing nations join the rat race for success with hard-working young population (something I can vouch for Mr. Friedman. You talked about coaching institutes in India training students for the prestigious IITs late into the night; its something I have witnessed and been a part of, and yes, many, many Indian students are hard-working and not afraid to break every bone in their body to get into one of these colleges. They’re the cream of our technical institutes but their importance cannot be undermined). But in some ways, I think he is overestimating Indians. We have a lot of corruption in our core government and police and poverty in our core population. The middle class needs to be taken seriously though because we’re walking on a line and we can fall both ways but we see both sides and that makes us desperate to clamber through into the safety net., for the most part.

But the mashing together of cultures is something Mr. Friedman hits upon next, talking about cultural identity in a positive way- he feels with so many ways of self-expression, our identity is only going to amplify, not die out and ‘Americanize’ as so many seem to think. This seems somewhat right. This seems like a nice point for me to say: how about getting USA to shift to the Metric system, Mr. Friedman?

With flattening of good things, comes the flattening of bad ones and the ever-increasing expansion and improvement of the terrorist network- something we all need to be extremely fearful about. For the most part, however, this book is about hope. I haven’t managed to scratch one fifth of the things this book leaves you pondering upon. If you want to feel a new-found respect for the Internet (being a 90s kid- I have seen a decade without it and can imagine a world without Google better than someone like, say my brother, who was born in 2003) and a better understanding of how we got where we are- this book is a good place to start sating some of that curiosity.

Bonne nuit 🙂

 

The Childhood Connection Part 2


Part Two

I woke up groggy the next morning; having spent hours just twisting and turning in bed. Sleep had refused to come easily and I had drifted in and out of nightmares involving my dad’s baby doppelganger from the previous night. I had also been haunted by the dead man; the way he had looked at me from far away, calling for help with his eyes. And the image of his dead body flashed over and over in my head, covered with blood.

I had a quick breakfast, avoided my aunt and headed out before the sun was fully up. I wanted to take a detour at the police station. I wanted to know what they had found. I wanted to hear sane things at the moment, things that would make it easier for me to rule out the new possibilities that had begun to form in my head.

I arrived at the station to find it bustling with activity despite the early hour. It seemed as if the discovery of an unexplained dead body in the middle of a lonely street had brought the ordinary worlds of this team of policemen to life.

When I presented myself, I was greeted with a very mixed response. Some of the policemen displayed open hostility, others glared at me in suspicion and a few seemed sympathetic. The policeman who had spoken to me the most on the previous night led me to an office and sat me down.

‘Would you like something? Tea?’ he asked me uncertainly.

‘No I am quite okay, thank you.’ I replied. ‘I just wanted to know about…well about the dead man?’

The policeman glanced anxiously towards his closed door. He leaned further in and whispered, ‘Well Miss Clara. We have just opened an investigation here and there is a lot to discover. But we have found out that the dead man was Thomas Jones. He drove a dump truck and led a seemingly normal life. But there is still a lot of digging to do and we might discover something.’

‘Okay’ I said, uncertain of what to do next. There was nothing useful in what he had said so far.

‘Look ma’am’ he said, lowering his voice even further. ‘The autopsy is underway as we speak and the reports won’t be in before afternoon but between you and me…most of the suspicion last night seemed to fall on you. Let’s face it, you were alone and the street was deserted and we figured…well who can judge these things? I haven’t seen any dead bodies in all my years of service here.’

‘Aah…’ I said, wondering where he was leading with this.

‘But a friend of mine works at the morgue’, continued the inspector, his voice still low. ‘And from the preliminary looks of it, this whodunit is also a how-he- (or she, pardon me) -dunit because it seems as if the bleeding started internally. There are no cuts or wounds of bullet entry in the body. It seems as if his organs ruptured from within and then the blood simply oozed out.’

I stared at him in sickening horror as he said these words. I didn’t have anything to say.

And so’, he coughed a little. ‘As far as I am concerned, you’re in the clear ma’am. I definitely do not think you’re a murderer.’

He looked at me and made the attempt of what seemed like a wink but it did nothing to stop me from feeling as if my guts were knotting inside me.

 

I did one last thing before I left, discover the address of the truck driver’s next of kin; a sister who lived close by. So I drove over to see her. There was no resting for me until I figured everything out.

The sister was a big woman, around forty years old. She had a little baby tucked within her arms and seemed highly suspicious of me. It seemed she had just been back from the police station and here I was barging in on her on the worst time of her life.

But I needed answers.

Answers she didn’t have. She had little to say to me and considering as she regarded me as her brother’s killer, I was not surprised.

By the time I took leave of her, the sun had climbed quite high into the sky. It beat down warmly on my skin and I felt a little comforted by its presence.

The sister’s house was a little off the main road and surrounded by a lot of trees. As I headed for my car, I thought I saw something far off in the shade; the shadow of a little child in shorts and a tee. In a heartbeat, I changed direction.

I walked to the spot where I had seen the shadow. But there was nothing there. However, I could feel something within the trees. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves and entered the thicket.

I walked for ten minutes. The thicket was deeper than it had seemed at first; and it was dark in here as little sunshine seemed to creep through the canopy. I was beginning to feel very frightened now.

What are you doing? What’s happening to you?  I kept asking myself.

And then I stopped. I couldn’t move further. There was something here. Something compelling me to turn, to walk away, to die, to….listen?

 

I could see colours swimming before my eyes. It was a mobile of some sort- a lot of colours and shapes were swimming before me. But they were too slow. I wanted them to be faster.

I could here two voices in the background. And I could sense two shapes. The lady with a ladle in her hand. The man with a remote control in his; he turned to me and smiled. I knew those eyes. Dad. And mum.

But I was distracted. I looked back at the mobile hanging above my crib. It was beautiful. It would look so much better if it could spin around really fast. A blur of colours and shapes, that was what I wanted to see.

I wanted it to be…magnificent! I stared at the mobile until I felt a draft. The air was growing colder. Much colder. And then my mobile was spinning. Faster and faster it went and I clapped my hands together as I had been taught to do when I wanted to appreciate something.

But something was wrong. There was a scream in the distance. I turned and saw my dad’s arms reaching out to encompass me. He lifted me and that’s when I saw it in the distance.

My mother. Lying in a pool of something red. She wasn’t moving. I reached out for her with my tiny hands but my dad was taking me in the other direction. Towards the door, the door.

I did NOT want to leave my mum behind!

Suddenly the draft grew harder. It seemed to surround us. And then we were falling, falling towards the floor. And I saw the floor reached out to meet me. I saw black

And then I saw red.

I was still in my dad’s arms. I was still on the floor. I was covered in something sticky. Something sticky that seemed to ooze out of my father. I raised my arms and brought them back down again. The sticky liquid splashed.

I began to cry loudly.

 

I woke up with a start. I was on the ground in the thicket, surrounded by trees.

I sat up and gasped. Then I realised what had happened.

My missing memory was back.

And I knew now why it had been missing all this time; I had been the one to somehow kill my parents. There was something wrong…with ME.

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The Childhood Connection


Part One

In the far recesses of my mind was a childhood memory I had never been able to reach. It would nag me, sometimes incessantly and for hours on end and at other times it would be triggered by something from around me, stay for a while and then when I was distracted, recede back into the past.

But no matter how hard I tried, I could not remember it. Not a single strand of that vital memory had revealed itself to me in over twenty years of life. All I knew was that it associated me with unpleasant sensations; a lurking fear, a half-hidden truth.

I lived with my aunt in an ordinary flat and I ran a children’s book store which had originally been run by my mum and later my aunt. And oh yeah, my parents were dead.

Life was good; I loved everything to do with little children and stories but then, that was all about to change.

One fateful winter twilight, I was nearing closing time and was in a hurry to get home. It was cold and there had been a draught in the store all day. Something was wrong with the heating. I made a mental note to get the thermostat checked as I shivered a little, drawing my scarf closer around me. I stared at the street beyond the glass doors of my store. Because it was so cold, there was almost nobody around outside. It had been a slow day and I longed to be back in the warmth of the flat I shared with my aunt.

Suddenly the bell above the door dinged. I turned to see a little boy, no more than three years old, entering the shop all on his own. On this cold winter evening, he was dressed in summer shorts and a t-shirt. He had brown hair and dark eyes. He was very fair and he looked around the shop with wonder, seeming lost like little children sometimes do.

‘Hello little boy’ I called out to him cheerfully, ‘Where is your mum? Are you lost?’

When he heard my voice, he turned his head and looked at me. He tilted his head a little to one side and raised his eyebrows with a childish curiosity that I found adorable. And yet…there was something vaguely familiar about him. Maybe he had been here before.

‘What’s your name?’ I said, stepping out from behind the counter. I peeped outside, probably expecting to see a harried parent calling out for him but the street beyond was as deserted as before.

The kid didn’t move and he didn’t respond. So I tried  again.

‘Hey you, are you lost? What’s your name?’

“Hey-we’ he said suddenly, straightening his head.

‘Harry? Is that your name? Where’s your mum Harry? Did she bring you here?’

I took a step forward.

Harry did not answer any of my questions, instead he turned and capered, he pushed against the door with both hands and was outside before I could react . He looked in both directions and then scurried off to the left.

‘Hey!’ I shouted, concerned. I ran to the door and stepped out into the chill but the boy had probably turned around the next corner and disappeared. I shrugged and went back inside.

But I felt miserable now and decided to call it a night. I gathered my stuff, put on my jacket and locked up the store.

Despite the welcome thickness of my scarf and jacket, I shivered involuntarily. The streets were more or less empty, though orange streetlights flooded the sidewalk. I drew my hands closer, as if to protect myself from the nip, and continued walking.

And that was when something happened.

I had walked less than a block from my store, when a shudder passed over me. And then I saw something…a man on the other side of the street. He had on a large brown trench coat and a hat and yet, underneath his hat I could see his eyes open in amazement. Then he turned a little and his eyes fixed on me. He tried to call out when he saw me but something was wrong, he was falling.

I called out to him and broke into a run but by the time I reached him, he had collapsed head-first on the pavement.

‘Oh my god’ I exclaimed as I kneeled down besides him.  A little reluctantly, I turned him over with both hands, saw and smelt blood and collapsed.

 

When I came to, there was a swarm of policemen everywhere on the street. I was wrapped in a blanket and propped on some steps nearby. A policeman was watching me with concern.

‘Ma’am’ he said.

I focused on him. I felt dizzy and nauseated but suddenly, it all came back to me and I sat up at once.

‘That man! Is he…?’

‘Yes ma’am. He is dead. And that is why I need to know. Did you see or hear anything at all?’

He was leaning forward eagerly. A little too eagerly. A thought crept into my head. Did he…suspect me, I wondered.

‘No, no I…uh…I just saw him fall. I collapsed because of the blood…it was all so much’. I realised I was shaking.

‘Its okay ma’am. You are okay.’ The policeman said, trying to be comforting. ‘I just need you to answer a few questions…’

They interrogated me for two hours before realising I knew absolutely nothing. One of the policemen dropped me home.

I entered the flat. My aunt had been waiting up for me.

She looked at me and sensed something was wrong. ‘What happened?’ she asked softly.

 

An hour later, I had assured her I was okay and put her into bed. I tried to eat but could not.

No I was definitely not okay.

Far from it. Something was wrong. Very wrong. I didn’t know why. It wasn’t just the strange murder, it was more than that. Deep inside me, the uncomfortable sense of my irrecoverable memory was growing again. And I did not know why.

I got up and brought out a box of old photographs, meaning to soothe myself down with them.

I sifted through albums, going down memory lane. I saw photographs from my childhood, pictures of me with my parents, their wedding photos.

Sifting further down, I reached the black-and-white era.

That was when I saw it.

A black-and-white photo of a child in shorts and a t-shirt. It was the child who had been in my store today.

I looked closer. Yes it was him. The exact same face. I turned it over

‘Peter Dawson’ It said, ’15 January 1962.’

My dad’s photo. From exactly 50 years ago.

I leaned back. And then it hit me.

My dad or the look-alike kid. He hadn’t said ‘Harry’ in reply to my question of who he was. That was what I had interpreted.

He had said ‘hey-we’.

Or, in children vernacular, ‘help me’.

 

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A Beautiful Day: Dexter Season 8 Episode 1


[Show spoilers ahead]

LaGuerta is dead. The last person who had stumbled in on Dexter’s secret with vengeance in heart is out of his way. Dexter has very happily returned to his old life: bowling, coaching his son’s team and working as a blood splatter analyzer at Miami Metro. Life as he knew it is beautiful once again.

On the other hand, Debra doesn’t seem to be doing quite so well. Having quit her job, she’s now swimming in an abyss- taking small cases that involve tracing drug dealers. And to get through it all, she is indulging in the psychedelic world of drugs herself. Combining recklessness with small comforts, fusing a self-destructive path with narrow means to cruise through life, Debra is doing everything she can to live constantly in a pure, raw hell- something she believes she deserves for murdering LaGuerta when she should have murdered Dexter.

‘I shot the wrong person in that trailer’, she tells him when he finally does confront her. ‘I’m not the one who’s lost; you are’.

Because she is living where she thinks she deserves to live but Dexter is cruising through life as though its a breeze.

But underneath all of that, Dexter is starting to feel stranded without Debra. Most of this episode revolved around Dexter trying to reach out to her, to get her to see that she didn’t belong in the place where she was while she spurns all his efforts.

It is only when Dexter finds himself standing in the middle of a bad neighbourhood, holding his son Harrison in his arms while his hand, hidden from Harrison’s view, is covered with the blood of someone he just murdered in his attempt to ‘save Debra’, does he realize that he’s the one who’s lost. And he is making Harrison follow him as well.

As the new season threw story arcs into the air with little preamble (this is surely a season for die-hard Dexter fans), the things I found most interesting were: the new murderer on the block and the new neuroscientist (who specializes in psycopaths and serial killers, as it were), Dr. Evelyn Vogel. Why Dr. Vogel has suddenly offered herself for this particular case, providing free consultancy, is not clear at first. That is until she grills Dexter on the Bay Harbor Butcher (Dexter is all like, ‘Will you let that go already??’).

In the closing scene of the episode, she seeks Dexter out and leaves him with a package. He unwraps it to see some of his dark childhood drawings depicting murders, blood, loneliness. In that second alone, Dexter gets why she’s there.

He runs after her and confronts her.

‘What is it you want?’, he says grabbing hold of her arm and pinning her against a wall.

‘Dexter please, let go’, she says a little uncomfortable but clearly still totally in control. ‘You cannot kill me’, she mouths with confidence.

‘Why?’ he simply asks.

‘Because I don’t fit Harry’s code.’ she replies and walks away from him

This season is going to be about Dexter’s slow downward spiral and unfortunately, I don’t feel much sympathy for him. Uptil last season, I did but ever since he decided that murdering LaGuerta was a good option, I’ve kind of lost that angle for Dexter. So Dr. Vogel shouldn’t be so confident and complacent; Dexter meant to kill LaGuerta even though she most certainely did not fit his code. All she was trying to do was prove that Dexter was the Bay Harbor Butcher (which he was) and that was her job. I don’t want to see Harrison being put through the emotional journey that is bound to emerge here though. Because that is what is going to make something different out of his son; Harrison is big enough this season to see and understand and feel; he has a growing conscience and everything his father does is going to register somewhere in his tiny head.

Adding a photo with Rita in it seemed like a good idea to me right now.

Other comments: Debra has had a makeover and has gotten  thinner as well, Angel is unable to cope with LaGuerta’s death, Quinn is now dating Angel’s younger sister (in secret, like he always does) and Yvonne is yet to make an appearance

Until next week.

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