A short story
By Rattan Mann
It all started with mom. Frankly speaking, nothing
started with mom. Nothing started with grand-mom, even great-grand-mom.
It might have started long back. It might not have started yet.
But I always say it all started with mom. I know I am lying. I am a born
Normally in three days I speak more lies than another would speak in
three years. And when it comes to talking to foreigners in Cannaught
Place , fellows, I become a dirty bundle of all sweet lies. And I am
mighty proud of that – a chap has got to be proud of what he is, can’t
be proud of what he is not.
I again say it all started with mom! Mom had her educated. Mom sent her
to school. Mom sent her to college. And then mom asked her to look for a
job so that she does not have to depend on my whims and fancies.
Actually it all started there; though I still insist it all started with
mom because I am a liar. And to my utter dismay she got a job.
Of course I am referring to Geeta. Anybody can guess that. Of course she
is my sister. Anybody can guess that too. But she is not my sister. But
I still say she is my sister – because I am a liar. Some say she is my
step-sister; but I don’t believe them because they are also liars.
What started with mom? My mental sickness, of course. Anybody can guess
that. See, it could not have started with mom because I was not yet
born. But I still insist my mental-sickness started with mom. But,
fellows, try to understand the dilemma of a mentally sick liar. If he
does not tell lies how will it be known that he is mentally-sick.
Geeta got a job in a school as a typist. I at once let it be known
within my circles that a night-club of questionable repute had hired her
as a bar-maid. Geeta did nothing to counter these rumours. She is very
gentle and docile. If you slap her on her right cheek, she would turn
her left towards you. I love making use of such an opportunity. Can’t
help it! Fellows, try to understand a mentally-sick guy. Our age is
after all an Age Of Understanding.
Geeta is the only living creature I have been able to slap without
retaliation. I tried to stone a cat but she jumped on my back. I tried
to whip a donkey but it kicked me so hard in the stomach that I had to
be admitted in a hospital. The day I came out of the hospital I was a
bitter and angry man. So I went up to Geeta and as she began to embrace
me, I slapped her. Nothing happened. I slapped her again. Still nothing
happened. I got so encouraged that from that day on I slap her every
day. To make sure nothing would ever go wrong in my newly-found paradise
I told her what Christ had said. Then I told her if she would suffer
quietly all the blows I showered on her she would reach heaven and enjoy
frequent dances with the urchins there. She could even slap them as I
slapped her and she won’t be punished because there was no such thing as
punishment in heaven. I don’t know if she understood such deeply
philosophical things but she cried. I loved it. I love it when anybody
cries in pain.
After a few days I spread the next rumour. I began to tell my friends
that instead of being a simple bar-maid she is now doing striptease and
having affairs with everybody coming to her night-club. One day I went
so far as to say that she is having five hundred affairs every day. I
even encouraged my friends to go there themselves.
Fellows, spreading false rumours is to me what water is to a fish. Not
that I don’t believe in them. The real fun of spreading rumours lies in
beleiving in them. At least in my case the real kick from that kicking
around started when I began to believe in those rumours. Because then
things became very serious. Now the honour of our family was at stake
and so I could not remain silent or passive. I could not see the name of
our family being dragged into dirt.
There is a legend in my village that one day, thirty years after a very
successful married life, my great-grand-mother had the courage to
confess to my great-grand-father that all her married life it had been
her greatest dream to go out on a walk with her husband. Surprisingly,
instead of beating her up for her immorality, my great-grand-father
agreed to take his wife for a walk with him. Probably he was too drunk
to know what he said or did. Fellows, how can I be sure? I was not there
So my great-grand-parents started a very romantic journey into the
unknown, great-grand-mother clad from head to toe in a purde, trudging
fifty yards behind her husband. Well, it was not her fault that she fell
down under these circumstances, and her nose was uncovered for a
fraction of a second. My great-grand-father rushed to her and cut her
exposed nose because he was scandalized that his wife had exposed her
private parts in public even though neither the part was so private nor
was there anybody around to see. And even if the road had not been so
deserted as it actually was that night, it was too dark to see a nose
anyway. So the legend goes.
Actually nothing of the sort ever happened. This time I am dead sure
even though I was not there to see. I am always sure of things I want to
be sure. My theory is that my great-grand-parents were walking happily
hand-in-hand in Cannaught Place, she clad in hot-pants and he completely
in a state of nature. I am positive that my theory is correct, so I
don’t think I would ever bother to find any evidence in support of it.
Grand-old-pa looked into the wide happy eyes of grand-old-ma and said, ”
If you ever look into another man’s eyes, I will pull you by your nose
and elope with you somewhere that rascal can never find you.” And he
imparted a deep kiss on her nose.
But fools distort history beyond recognition.They forbid kisses because
they cannot see anybody happy. So history says a nose was cut when
actually a nose was kissed. Fellows, I say history is a bunch of lies so
that liars like me can exploit it to the maximum. Legends are a bunch of
lies, I say. But this particular legend, this particular bunch of lies,
suited my purpose very well. I am a genius at exploiting lies for my own
ends. I began by adding some spice to the story. I went so far as to say
that poor grand-old-ma was actually stabbed to death for that breach of
tradition instead of escaping with just a loss of nose.
See fellows, history still remains a bunch of lies. I still am very
suspicious of it. But the big difference is that now I am in command of
history – now I am distorting it. But I am doing it for Geeta’s sake.
“Look at the traditions of our family.Our great-grand-mother was killed
just because her nose was exposed. And here you are ,dancing naked and
running around with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Have you no shame?” I
“Where am I dancing and with whom am I running around?” she whispered
I slapped her two three times. It was a sufficient answer.
Why do I treat Geeta like this? Why can’t I leave this poor creature
alone? Of course I am mentally-sick, but so are they all, those
honourable men. What else can be behind it? I don’t know. Of course, I
know it. But I won’t tell. Of course, I will tell.
Fellows, the thing is that besides being mentally-sick , I am also
sexually frustrated. Perhaps I am mentally sick because I am sexually
frustrated. Perhaps I am sexually frustrated because I am mentally sick.
Perhaps both! But the psychologists whom I visited for help say it is
neither. They say I am a normal human being – a dynamic personality,
Santa Clause to children, helpful to neighbours, and very gentle. They
say if I doubt it I just have to go to other people and observe what
they are. We all are the same, give psychologists a chance, they told me
in the end. So fellows, I am not mentally sick at all. But I still
insist that I am mentally sick because I am a liar.
Once I went to a girl and said, ”I am sexually frustrated.”
She slapped me. ” Just imagine everybody trying to dump his sexual
frustrations on me.” she said. ”Can’t carry the burden of five hundred
million sexual frustrations upon my back!”
“Sorry, I got carried away. At 30 I am still a virgin.” I said.
“Better luck next time with the next girl.”, she said.
That awaited luck with the next girl has not come till today even though
years have passed since my first attempt to impress a girl.
It was sometimes after this misadventure that the business of stoning a
rat, beating a cat , and slapping Geeta everyday started. Or was it
stoning a cat and beating an ass? I have forgotten. I am so preoccupied
with my obsessions that I am not capable of seeing one step back or one
step ahead. But this is not at all my fault.
Guys, anthropologists say the when man, the hunter, became man, the
farmer, the wisest man could see only seven years ahead. What a score!
In my beloved country the wisest leader cannot see seven days ahead. May
be Geeta can see seven hundred years ahead. But who cares? She is only
an ordinary man, not a leader. Sorry, woman.
Let me come back to myself which is what I love the most. As soon as the
business of slapping Geeta was in full swing, my mental sickness reached
new hights. I began to experience nightmares. One day I dreamt that
Geeta slapped me back. You can’t imagine what a scare it gave me.
Next morning I bought a copy of the bible for Geeta and told her what
Christ had said – if somebody slaps you on the right cheek, turn your
left to him. I also bought her the complete works of Mahatama Gandhi and
began to explain to her the theory of non-violence.
My theory of non-violence is very orthodox. I make it a point of honour
to proceed along very classical lines so that I do not displease our
great politicians and wise leaders.
I define non-violence as follows:If I slap Geeta it is non-violence. If
Geeta slaps me it is violence. As simple as that. Even miss Dimple would
agree. I am a genius at making simplifications. Some day I intend to
make my definition even simpler by identifying non-violence with the law
of the jungle, namely, the victor is always non-violent and the
vanquished is always the personification of violence. But these days I
am too preoccupied with my mental sickness, sexual frustrations,
nightmares, phobias, sadistic impulses etc etc to waste much time on
such theoretical issues. May be some great leader of our centuary would
make this simplification before I do. I don’t care. May be some great
leader has done it already. I don’t care.
One day Geeta came home rather late and very tired. I slapped her and
said, ”What were you doing with twelve guys the whole night?”
“With what guys?” she asked through her tears.
I slapped her again. ”You know what I am talking about.”I said.
“Have you the slighest proof that I was with any guy either tonight or
any other night?” she asked.
Proof! It had never occurred to me that a guy of my eminence and stature
was ever required to give a proof of anything he said or did. I felt the
first tremors of non-violence in our peaceful home. I slapped her four
or five times and kicked her another four or five times till she was
fully silenced and non-violence was fully restored in the house. But
Geeta’s question began to pinch my conscience.
Fellows, you will be surprised to know that even mentally-sick,
sexually-frustrated, and politically-disoriented people like me have a
conscience. This is the greatest paradox of history. Even more
surprising is the way we quench our feelings of guilt. This is history’s
I did not know in which night-club Geeta was working. In fact, I knew
she was not working in any night-club. But I did not know in which
school she was working. Even if I knew I could not have gone there. So
to satisfy my guilty conscience and find solid proof of my accusations ,
I went to a nearby park in search of concrete evidence about Geeta’s
I had already made the following assumptions – I told you I am a genius
at making unwarrented assumptions. If I saw any woman in the park it
would be a solid proof that she is Geeta waiting for her lovers. If I
saw any man there it would be a solid proof that he is one of Geeta’s
lover waiting for her. And what if I saw a couple? Well, fellows, what
do you say to this what?
When I entered the park it was completely deserted but still I clearly
saw a pair of sea-gulls flying over me. I got tremendously jealous.
I wished they were me and the girl who slapped me. What love, what
beauty, what romance in the sky – something that you never find upon
this wretched earth. But then I remembered my mission – the reason I was
in the park. So I at once concluded that those birds were Geeta and her
lover in a previous incarnation. I got even more jealous. I ran after
them with a stone in my hand. I tried to stone them but they were too
far away. They were flying over the pond in the park, so unable to reach
them I stoned their image in the water.
In the evening when Geeta came home I kicked her a dozen times because I
was armed with the moral strength of possessing irrefutable proof of her
“I caught you red-handed today. At last I caught you red-handed!” I kept
on yelling like a man possessed by the devil.
But then something undreamt and unheard of happened. Geeta slapped me.
Yes, fellows, Geeta slapped me back . As simple as that. Again miss
Dimple would fully agree. Sometimes I feel it was so simple and easy
that she could have done it long back.
“I can’t take it any more! I can’t tolerate your lies any more. Forgive
me but I just can’t”,she yelled back in fury.
Then she started crying. I too started crying. I was in a state of
disbelief and shock.
“Geeta, don’t slap me. Please don’t slap me. It hurts. What happened to
all the lessons in non-violence that I gave you?” I said.
I fell at her feet.
“Please don’t slap me again. I am a heart patient. I can die.”I said
Fellows , like that cat which told the lion all her secrets of survival
except one – how to climb a tree – I have not told you the greatest of
my secrets. I am a born coward. Cowardice is the secret of my survival.
Again, just imagine a sick, frustrated, disoriented guy like me trying
to stand up to anybody. Would’nt have been alive to tell my wretched
story. So cowardice is my main weapon of survival. Try to understand me
fellows. I am a very misunderstood genius.
To ensure my survival, I promised Geeta, in name of God and
non-violence, never to touch her again. And it was at this very moment I
resolved to kill her – liquidate her once and for all so that she could
never become a challenge to me.
One day, as Geeta was walking hand in hand with one of her numerous
lovers, I stole from behind and stabbed her with a knife. She died
instantly. Her lover escaped.
Well, I never said I actually stabbed her but she died instantly. That
is for sure. How sure? I won’t swear under oath but at least I thought
she died instantly. May be she died long after this attack. May be she
is’nt dead yet. May be she is still lying in a hospital or even at home.
But all this is not important at all. What is important is that I began
to spread rumours that I stabbed Geeta to preserve the honour of the
family and she is dead.
As usual Geeta did nothing to counter these rumours. She told me she
enjoyed being a ghost.
I had killed Geeta for a very noble cause – to preserve our cultural
heritage. I thought I would feel very happy and proud for it. I thought
all my anscestors would descend from heaven to congratulate me. And for
some time I really did feel happy and proud for it was the first time in
life I had accomplished something. But then suddenly something happened
to me which I had never expected even in my wildest dreams. Guilt took
possession of my soul like a devil. I became a living bundle of guilt. I
could not sleep. If I slept nightmares woke me up immediately. All
the time I kept on saying to myself that I deserved to die because I had
taken an innocent life. I do not know how why or from where such ideas
came to me but they did nonstop. I became sucidal. I ran away from home
without making sure if Geeta was really dead or even if I had stabbed
her at all.
I ran to the forest hoping that some wild animal would eat me so that I
don’t have to take another life. But there were no wild animals in the
forest. Civilized man had killed them all. So after a few days I
returned to civilization. I had not eaten for many days because there
were no fruit trees in the forest. Civilized man had cut them all. I was
starving.I was in delirium. I was about to kill myself. I needed
immediate help. But the question was where to get it.
Guys, you would say that I should have run to a psychologist or
psychoanalyst. This was my first idea too. But then I remembered my last
brush with the psychoanalysts. They were the guys who were actually
responsible for my present state. Instead of curing me, they had made me
more sick. To the shrinks over my dead body, I screamed and bit my
finger and tore my hair in utter dismay. Anybody could see I really
needed help immediately before it was too late.
Then the idea came like a flash of lightening. Going to jail would solve
all my problems. I would get food, fellow prisoners would prevent me
from committing sucide and some cold-blooded serial-killer
would may be brain-wash me into beleiving that killing just one girl
isn’t that bad after all. Then of course all my problems would be solved
in one stroke.
So I went to a policeman and told him I killed my own sister. I expected
him to arrest me immediately.
He laughed. ”Congratulations,” he said, ” One less mouth to feed. Don’t
tell me, go and tell the politicians. They will be mighty pleased. The
nation has saved tons of wheat and rice. Better than sterilization or
castration. Perhaps worse. Who cares!”
Disgusted by the policeman’s reactions I went to a judge and confessed.
I begged him to arrest me immediately.
“Why are you coming to me?Why don’t you report to the police? Are you
mentally sound?” he said.
“Not worse than you.” I said.
“Then it is a legal murder. The law cannot do anything about it. Only
illegal murders are tried here. Go home and ask God for forgiveness.
Confess to a priest. Don’t waste my time.” He said.
“But I want punishment. I deserve punishment.” I cried.
“Why are you so anti-life?” he asked calmly.
“Because I have seen enough of this gutter called life.” I shouted and
got more agitated.
“That is why you have not seen life at all.”
“I have seen enough of it.It is you who have’nt seen anything.”I banged
on his table. I had lost my temper.
He said nothing.
“Where is punishment? Where is death?” I shouted again.
“Where was life” he said and then ordered the peon to throw me out of
Fellows , it was after this that I got so fed up with everybody and
everything that instead of seeking help I went for self-help and self-analysis.I
returned home and started analyzing myself .
Now I am feeling better. Geeta is feeling better too. But it does not
mean that I have stopped beating her or that I have lost my love for
spreading lies and rumours. These noble activities are part of my very
existence. So if you ever hear a pretty girl screaming in pain or if you
heat the most unbeleiveable lies and rumours, assume that I am behind it
all. My name is Mann.
First published on www.spoiledink.com
Copyright@ Rattan Mann