This is how my novelette is shaping up…my WIP. You are invited to drop in your comments, suggestions and guidance.
[untitled] by Barun Jha
Chapter – 01
It is a clear evening with no sign of clouds on the horizon. No clouds-dark, white or grey, meant a canvas with twinkles and shiny moon as a night sky. The mild wind adds freshness to the evening like the sunshine does to morning dew. This is the time when people in Pelling will be active at most, tourists crowed at the eateries, people walked into bars, holidaying couples took stroll down the winding road after a hectic sight-seeing during day-time. There is a small of gathering of boys, some aged, others married in front of the wooden house. The wood exposed after weathering of paint appears grey like the hair of an old man, the slanting tin roof is too low like the ceiling inside. Its lightless front gives it a sullen look suited for abandoned haunted house. But, the façade of the building is deceiving; what goes inside is all fun, drinking, dancing, and showing your skills on pool table. How famous one is at this place is defined by how skillfully one can aim the balls through the pockets and how high bet one plays. It has a charm of a casino that draws fanfare from school seniors, footballers, tourists, drivers, hotel owners and the local arrivistes.
I am not a regular at this house; I went there first out of curiosity, then to watch some matches of my friends who were ardent inhabitants. If it was not alcohol they guzzled at the day start, I would have called them pool addicts. Despite my senior years, I tried to keep away from the place. Whenever I thought to hang around, a little reminder tinged, “You are not supposed to be seen here, it is a threat to how people perceive you and your established intellectual grandeur, whatever you managed to have.” Life gives you difficult choices, and it leaves you weird especially when you opt to study mathematics and biology which you equally hate.
The road has unusual windings and two hair pin bends down the house, lies Alpine Restaurant. Under the sepia of sodium lamp of the street, the ivory board with green texts says Alpine Restaurant – South Indian, Chinese, and Continental. It is another thrifty eatery which appears more of a desolate woodhouse promising the spread of platter wider than its own size. Instead of waiting for my friends at the pool house I walked down the road to the restaurant. If they won’t find me outside pool house, they will surely walk in this restaurant; there is no other place we frequent. As usual for the evening, it is crowded with foreigners, backpackers, couples and a family of three generations – who have managed to join two of the tables together to accommodate themselves. I walk towards the only large table vacant by the window overlooking the tall pines and snow capped panorama beyond. On the side table there is a couple holding hands and tracking mysteriously every movement. They were staring me as took seat; I stared back, at them, at their hands tugging each other to keep on their own lap. They looked away as I sat facing the room. There is another group of four occupying the front table, backpackers. Two of them who faced me smiled and I smiled and one of the other two on their front turned. With a grin on his face he said a big “Hi!” I have seen him somewhere, maybe on the roads or the pool house, I can’t recall.
“How are you doing?” I replied.
“Great, it is a beautiful place” he said. “Alone, join us.”
“Thank you. But, I’ll wait for my friends; they’ll be here in a moment”
“Aaa…you guys had a nice game today” he said.
“Not so good, I was out for nothing.”
So, this is the same guy whom we met in cricket ground. We had a good game today. After two continuous losses with this team, we were back today. This guy came and sat near our team padding area and was continuously commenting of each of the blanks and boundaries.
The boy who was waiting at the cash counter came for orders. The guy turned back to his group and continued with their chat. I asked the boy for ginger tea which they serve only on request, it doesn’t feature on menu. I haven’t seen their menu though, my friends said so. We come here and ask for what want and they serve it. The owner who is a nice portly guy in his forties ensures it is served. We are the only group from the school, who frequents this place, and off the tourist season its customers like us who ensures that the place is up and running.
We have our own reasons of coming here, like it is only place that serves fried and spicy food in the land of bland and boils. It is the only place that offers you credit when you needs it and without having to say so.
My friends arrived when I was done with my tea. They came and we ordered our dinner. The boy who took order asked by what time it is to be served. “After an hour, in the meantime help us with some soup.” My friend suggested. “And Pakodas” said the other. So started the evening with our usual chit chat about who played better and who lacked on performance. Everyone is happy that we are saved from three consecutive defeats. Other then mathematics, being topper from our previous schools, boarding common hostel and love for bunking classes and sometimes the whole day at school, cricket was another devotion shared by all of us. We loved cricket be it after school practices in evening or matches on weekends or mass bunking to watch matches on TV even it was a test series, which also ensured no attendance in mathematics classes of our batch. For cricket we were crazy enough to face the infuriated, stout, grumpy mathematics teacher next day who had a delusion that he contributed more than five hundred engineers to the country from this very school.
[to be continued…..]
7900+ words so far in 2012 on Barunjha’s Blog
© Barun Jha || 2012