A very Malayali horror story.

Back in the day, a dashing young man, let’s call him Guy, was riding his bike, late at night through the roads of the majestic city of Trivandrum. He was going to a place called Varkala, which is about 50 Kms from Trivandrum Central. Just before he reached Pettah, an old man thumped for a lift and Guy obliged. As it often happens during hitch-hiking, the Guy and the old man started talking. They talked about the conditions of the road, the speed of the truckers, the arrogance of the beat cops… you get the idea. As soon as they reached the intersection near Chakka, Guy turned around to ask the old man which direction he wanted to go and much to his shock and surprise, the old man was not there anymore.

Guy thought may be he got down while they stopped at any one of the several red lights on the way, he felt a little bad that the old man said neither thanks nor goodbye, a violation in the unwritten codex of hitchhiking. Pondering over selfish nature of human beings in general, Guy spurred on. Somewhere along the way, he had a sudden realization. There are no red lights past 9:30 pm in Trivandrum.They never really stopped nor slowed down on the way. How the hell did the old man get down! Guy broke a cold sweat broke over the idea of the old man falling off the bike at some point during the ride and instantly felt guilty. Guy drove on for another 40 minutes and he reached his exit at Kallambalam, this is where he would take a left so he can go to Varkala.

Suddenly he was tapped on the shoulder.Shocked and surprised, he turned around and saw the old man sitting right behind him saying, “Stop right here, I think that lorry is going north, I’ll ask them for a lift” He got down and jogged ahead before Guy could even say anything, the old man turned around and shouted, “Thanks for the ride, God Bless.” and jogged into the darkness. Guy did not see any lorries anywhere near by.

Guy was absolutely shocked and a little scared. He rode home as fast as he could, fixed himself a nice strong whiskey, and went to sleep trying to forget it ever happened. Three weeks later, Guy told this story to one of his friends and almost as soon as he finished the story, he had a fatal stroke and died at the ripe young age of 28.

Now this story, was concocted by one of my classmates during a college tour. The whole incident happened while I was doing by Bachelors in Engineering. We were on a bus, it was late at night and we were passing by Kallambalam, and there was an assistant professor with us, a very attractive young lady, who was also incidentally 28 at the time and lived near Pettah. The intend of the story, of course was to scare her and for some reason we thought it would be fun, and it was.

Fast forward a few years, I graduated, got a job, worked for a few years, and went back to the same old college for my Masters. The attractive young assistant professor no longer worked there, neither did most of the teaching staff who was there while I did my UG. Even though it was the same college, without my old classmates and professors, it felt like a whole new place. Part of the Masters programme is a mandatory 8 hour a week, “departmental assistance”. Mostly you would grade term papers, assist in the lab, help the professors around one way or other. And there I was, one fine afternoon inside the staff room, with a fellow classmate, grading term papers and I overheard the following conversation between two assistant professors in there.

….something about rents…..

“They told me there is a house near Pettah, its kind of pricey, but its very spacious…”

“Ooh, If I were you, I’d think twice about renting near Pettah…”


“Back in the day, a dashing young man, let’s call him Guy…”

4 Abstract Thoughts

There was this guy who studied with me in high school, once his computer caught a virus. When the anti-virus alerts about the virus became too many, he simply uninstalled the anti-virus.

I was chatting up this girl once, she said she liked to travel, I asked time-travel or space-travel ? She asked me what space-travel was. There was no continuum to that relationship.

A guy who studied with me in college posted in Twitter that he “enjoys being lonely”. The attention whore also had Twitter linked to Facebook to automatically post the same.

I was once listening to “Enjoy yourself, It is later than you think”, and then an old classmate of mine called to tell me that one of our high-school teachers had passed away.

I was once conned into buying dinner for an old lady I saw in a bus stop, who was in tears because she was hungry. I later came to know that she does this every night.

Saakshiyam – The testimony

After the heavy applause abated, he slowly got on to the podium. The worship leader stepped aside.

“Praise The Lord”, he said.

“Praise the Lord”, the crowd mumbled back.

“My name is Steven. I thank the Lord for this beautiful evening and for his grace which allowed us to be here today. Without the Lord, our God, I would never have been able to stand here and tell you my story. Oh Lord! my life was that of a sinner, yes!”, he wailed.

With a sigh, he continued, “Imagine the most obnoxious and annoying person you have met in your life, I was ten times worse than that. I am not proud of who I was back then, but in order for you to truly understand the miracle that our Lord has worked in my life, you should know this. I was a liar and a cheat. I was promiscuous and I lied without the slightest guilt or inhibition, oh yes, a sinner I was.”

He looked around at everyone. They had fixed their gazes and were staring at him. He took another deep breath and continued, “When I was young, I dropped out of college, did one thing after another and ended up selling drugs for a living. I used to manipulate people to get whatever I wanted, I always told people what they wanted to hear, I have never felt remorse at what I did or empathy for the lives of people I ruined. My life was empty except for hatred. I alienated everyone who had tried to connect with me. With each passing day, I was spiraling down beyond hope. And three years ago, on March 8th, I had an accident. I was driving drunk and hit my car. I laid there for hours, bleeding and unable to move, but I was still conscious and under a lot of pain, when the light started to dim in my eyes I knew I was facing certain death, but what hurt  the most was knowing that my life was empty and that no one would miss me.”

The crowd went awfully quiet.

He continued, “When I came around, I was at a hospital. A good Samaritan had found me on the road and brought me there, he was a Christian missionary. He asked if I wanted to call someone, I nodded no. He sat near me, he had a kindly face and soothing voice. He told me, ‘Next time you drink and drive, there won’t be anyone to take you to a hospital. Know that the Lord saved you because he had a purpose for you, because he wanted you to be more than this. ‘ – He sat by my side and prayed for me while I fell asleep under pain medication. I was a complete stranger, yet he went out of his way to help me, I wanted to thank him when I got up, but he had already left, he kept a little blue book by my bedside table, it was a copy of the “New Testament”, with it was a little note, “May this help you the same way it helped me”. I did not even catch his name.

The crowed looked awake.

He continued on with a joyous stride, “I was in that hospital for several days, and I had nothing to do, I read and reread every passage in that book, I wanted to know more. Nothing could quench my thirst to know the Lord more, yes! I knew what I had to do, I repented, I accepted the Lord as my savior and six months later, I got baptized, amen!”

The crowed cheered.

He continued, with a smile on his face, “Today I have a job that fulfills me, I help people the same way I was once helped. I share the gospel with those who would listen.  I have a family. The Lord has shown me true happiness. Only the way the Lord can!”

The crowd cheered even more. •

This went on a while, there were songs in between, it eventually ended with everyone praying for Steven to continue in faith, stronger than ever. As we walked through the parking lot trying to find our car, Neha asked me what I thought of the testimony.

I said, “Clearly Steven was a sociopath. I mean, all the symptoms fit. Pathological liar, no remorse, no empathy, manipulator. The accident got him hit in the head, something changed. Maybe they cured his neurosyphilis while he was there, he was a promiscuous drug-dealer, he admitted it himself, STDs are not a far fetched idea here. It can be medically explained, he is no longer a sociopath, explains the change in personality.”

“That’s your take on this ?”, She looked like she was going to kill me.

Neha was a hardcore believer, I remembered what my old school professor once told us, “rationality, logic or reason never work in an argument involving religion.” and boy, was he right.

“Did you want me to say that the Lord did a miracle in his life ?”, I asked her. I was willing to admit that even if I didn’t believe it, because after three hours of being in a church, I was feeling pretty positive about everything and didn’t want her to harsh my mellow.

After a moment of contemplation, Neha said, “Maybe you are right, maybe he was a sociopath and now he’s cured. Then that is the miracle”.

the morning after

In my experience, more often than not, when two old pals meet again after a long time, It usually has a “So, How are you!” or “What are you doing these days” which actually means, “You are not doing better than me, are you ?”

The conversation that follows typically has two components, one is essentially “the bragging” and the second is what I like to call “the complimentary fake laugh”. Once you ask someone how they are doing, then it is customary for the other person to ask you, how you are doing, which is basically an invitation to start bragging about everything you are and you have. It is funny sometimes, because people do go that extra mile to make sure that the other person doesn’t feel too bad about your said bragging, “I’m healthy and fit and banging several chicks at once” is what you really want to say but you don’t want to make your fat friend with the pot belly feel bad, so you add “But I still don’t have a job, I guess I shouldn’t have dropped out of college” then to make things all sound okay, you’ll add that complementary fake laugh which will be reciprocated. Now it is the fat friend’s turn to say something like “I just got promoted as the general manager of Initrode, Inc. The largest supplier of blah and blah in South East Asia. Pay is terrific t, but with my cholesterol and diabetes…” then there will some sort of remark about his hot trophy wife not allowing him to eat at expensive restaurants followed by the aforementioned complimentary fake laugh.

Then its the “Good to see you again, man” time, probably a hug, invitation to get a drink, exchange of phone numbers, the charade. And they’ll part with the promise that they will call each other, and unless either of them is an insurance agent or running a pyramid scheme, the chances of that call happening is very slim, and that kids, is how we maintain the balance of Universe.

In a cynical world like this, when something doesn’t happen as one would expect, it makes for something worth remembering.

It all started when I ran into an old friend of mine. I am using the word “friend” loosely here, we were more of an acquaintance than anything else – We first met when I was a teenager and I had this huge hormone fueled crush on her. Every time she talked to me, she used to make my throat go dry – but I never told her about how I felt because, honestly, even though I was attracted to her at the time, I soon came to realize that I could never accept her for what she was. And what she was, was someone who found it funny when an old man in a wheel chair lost control, rolled down the stairs and hurt himself. Someone who is so selfish and ambitious that she will sell anyone and anything, including her morals and her friends to get what she wants.

Even though I knew she was all that, she still managed to make my throat go dry when I ran into her after all these years. Truth be told, she wasn’t beautiful anymore, she looked like a lifeless and stained replica of what was once there, the attire and the curly hair didn’t do her much favor either. The overall image did leave a lot to be desired, yet I stood there gawking in front of her lost for words. When she reached in for a hug, I gave in pretty much involuntarily and mumbling something. I don’t know what train of thought led me to think that it would be a good idea to invite her to a bar that I was planning on going to. I remember it being a pleasant evening, she matched me drink for drink, but I don’t remember most of what happened after that.

I came to my senses when I woke up next to her, in what seemed to be a hotel room. I had a bad hangover. She was still sleeping, face down, a wet patch on the bed where her mouth was. My first instinct was to get out of there. I realized it was dark outside. When I tried to get out of bed, my trousers fell down, I noticed that they were undone.

I felt a strange pang of guilt when I realized I might have had slept with her. But I wasn’t sure, for there was no way of knowing. She was dressed as well. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wouldn’t sleep with someone who looked like her, yes, I am that shallow, but in the back of my mind a sixteen year old with braces wanted to cheer at some undefinable sense of accomplishment. I saw that there were suitcases in a corner. I remembered something she said about staying in a hotel. After my eyes adjusted to the bright display of my phone, I learned that it was 4 in the morning, next day. I contemplated the thought of taking a cab home. But I knew it didn’t really matter when I reached home, I live alone, I work the stock market from home, nobody was going to miss me for a day or two. In that moment of inebriation, I decided it was best to get some rest.

When I woke up again, she was not there – it was well past 8. I felt funny and somehow happy that she was not there, I had a chance to avoid the unpleasant “morning-after” conversation. As I got up and washed my face, the door opened and she walked in with a very pleasant, beautiful smile and two cups of coffee. Her hair was wet like she had just showered. As she passed by the window, a ray of sunlight illuminated her hair-strands from behind, giving it a light brown tinge. She smiled again when she saw me looking at her intently.

“Your eyes look red and tiny…bad hangover ?” – She asked, offering me the coffee. I did not know what to say, except smile sheepishly and accept the coffee from her.

“I should get going, I have to get to work” – I mumbled looking at the phone. I did not want to sound like I wanted to get out here as quickly as possible, yet I did.

“Yes, you told me last night” – She was smiling again. I thought to myself that I had done something right, she was really happy or maybe this was her routine of getting rid of hungover one night stands. I finished my coffee and started walking towards the door.

“I will call you then” – I said, nothing else came to my mind.

“You have no recollection of last night, do you ?” She was still smiling.

“I’m afraid not, what did I do ?” – I thought it was best to be honest.

She laughed out loud and said, “You may have turned my life around James”

I laughed too, then I walked out with a nod.

“James…”, She called me from behind. I turned around, she walked towards me slowly, put her arms around me, hugged me close and whispered into my ear, “Thank you…for everything.”

She stayed like that for a while, I put my hands over the small of her back. She looked up at me, her eyes were glistening, her pupils dilated.She looked beautiful, nothing like the way I remembered, something a lot more sensual, like the way her lips were parted or the glimmer of tremble in her lower lip. I leaned in and kissed her. Her gaze was deep and fixed and then she slowly closed her eyes.

By 9, I was at my desk, starting up my computer, ready to start my work. Trying hard not to think of her or to make sense of anything that happened earlier.


I love you quite a lot. Each day you put me through this, I will love you a little less. Only because this is torture for me. I wish you would understand that, or do you know what you are putting me through and you are still doing it? I hope not. You may have won an argument today because I always yield, but you lost me a little bit. You are losing a little bit of me each day, and one day you would have lost me completely. We will just be two people under the same roof, leading a very mechanical life. Will you wonder then what had happened? Or will you think that is normal? 

Some times I try to understand things from your perspective but I don’t get it. Why would you throw me under the bus every time? Please choose me once.

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