The Rainforest Unicorns-Episode 3

Anand yawned as the lazy chair slowly seemed to put him to sleep. The temptation to fall asleep was just too great to resist. He knows business will be slow today. He is tired of Facebooking every morning, and just like his every other peculiar, strange promise-to-self innuendos, he has banned himself from browsing this morning. He glanced at his laptop and also computer, and remained unmoved- as if taunting them back in his own language that he doesn’t need them to pass his time. He stood up, and looked around, still yawning profusely. Something, somewhere, must need fixing. It’s impossible that there is nothing to worry about in his shop. Nothing to break a sweat about. Then he realized, this is a worry. The fact that he doesn’t have to break a sweat is a worry. No customers is a major worry.

That’s when the door swung open- Sabhi’s entrance finally awoke Anand. “No business,” he mumbled to her. “Anand, it’s only been two weeks, give it a break,” she said strongly. She was wearing a white colored churidhar, and Anand smiled upon seeing her attire. “What?” she asked, as she took her seat on the sofa as she always does. “I know what it is about, they forced me to follow them to temple, what am I to do?” she added, removing her heels, and settling for a pair of slippers that she plucked conveniently from under the sofa. She smiled at him. “Tea?” she asked, irresistibly.

“You are going to make me miss customers, this is bad for a new businessman,” he said. “You haven’t taken a break, you are entitled to eat and drink, because that is what all human beings do. Sadly, I doubt you are one,” she took a seat at the nearby restaurant, with a sigh. “They asked about you today,” she said. “Who?” Anand took his seat, blurred. “Who else? They mooted the possibility,” she added with another sigh. “Oh,” Anand took a long pause, a long winded one. “Is that a good thing?” he asked. Sabhi snapped.

“Can you afford to be a little more sensitive? Not to be an ignorant, blurred moron every second of time?” she stormed. Yuva paused again. It was as if words got stuck in his Adam’s apple and they are refusing to be uttered out. Sabhi starred at him in fake contempt. And slowly, her angry face carved out a smile. And he gave a wide grin upon seeing that smile. “You idiot,” she said slowly. “As I said, I’ll be there, anytime you want to break the news to them, I shall be there,” he finally talked. “But apart from that, I can’t say much, I can only support you in the decisions you make.” Sabhi nodded.

Karthi was panting. The books are ridiculously heavy. She has no idea why she had decided to adorn a saree to school today; it just doesn’t fit who she is. And as she finally made her way up the stairs to the corridor, she saw a couple of kids tugging at each other in ferocious fashion. And a crowd of boys cheering them up, with plenty more rushing to the scene to become spectators. “Hey!” she shouted at them. In truth, she hardly had any energy left. She gave thought to running towards the chaos, but chose to walk instead. This happens every day in this school. There is nothing special or new about this incident. She stealthily reached the boys, and by that time, even her voice drained out to let out another shout. The spectators started whispering among themselves as Karthi arrived at the scene. “Hey! Boys!” she finally found her voice again, ignoring the whispers, but the boys would not care less. “How come you are here teacher, we heard you were sacked,” a girl came up and asked. The fight stopped. Karthi’s heart stopped. She was cornered. All the more by Pei, with whom she always seemed to run a mutual dislike for. There was a hidden grin on Pei’s face. She loves it that her most-despised teacher is out of the picture. Karthi was in disbelief. Nevermind the sacking, but whoever allowed the news to be revealed in such a way that Pei got the chance to taunt her back must not be forgiven.

“Tell me why,” she stormed into the principal’s office. Lingering lazily, the principal shot up a compassionate look and a sigh. “I told you to change your ways, too many people did not like it,” she explained. “This is very sensitive, this is a government school,” she added. “Farah, I know why I was kicked out. I saw it coming. We had this conversation before. I knew the consequences the last time you told me about it,” Karthi started calmly. “But it should have remained between us, why on earth was it out so blatantly until even students are sniffing on it?” she raised her voice. Her frustration was apparent. Farah looked dumbfounded. She knew whose doing was the part that has infuriated Karthi. She thought about calling him in, but the damage was already done. His disgust towards Karthi was never hidden; so he would be the last person to be sorry about Karthi’s situation. Farah felt utterly helpless. Karthi stood still, starring angrily, demanding an answer. The sweat all over her body, beneath the edges of her thick saree doesn’t help. She realized, it’s the first time she has worn a saree to school. And she had to get sacked today. How ironic.

“You know who, I’m sorry Karthi, but there’s nothing I could do. You know who did that,” Farah whispered, careful not to get heard, she might offend her colleagues if she was heard being compassionate and pitiful to Karthi’s plight. Karthi turned to her right to the teachers’ office. There he was, with all his idealisms and disgust towards anything he describes as being ‘out of tandem with nature’. “I’m suing you lot,” Karthi said and stormed off. She collected her bag and the little amount of things she left on her desk, and walked off. For most of the teachers there who glanced up as Karthi exited, only one thought crossed their mind. Karthiga Rani is no more a teacher in this school. No judgement was made of her time here. She was efficient as a teacher, but her personality was enough to become a barrier why nobody bothered to get close with her. And for few in the office, she was a devil and her departure is positive. For Farah, she knew she lost a good teacher because people can’t stop judging. They never will…

To be continued…

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 2

Yuva looked stunned; utterly speechless as he starred at Nisha, non-verbally demanding an explanation for why she had deemed it fit him to slap him across the face in front of tens of other people, who are just enjoying this unfolding drama. What crime of his was worthy of such a punishment?

An impulse surged in him almost instantly to retaliate, but looking at her brewing in frustration and anger, he knew that she was sending a clear message- her anger is justified. “Don’t you ever talk to me like that again,” Nisha said. “What is your problem with me? Am I not good enough for you now? After everything I tried and changed? What else are you expecting?” He looked up silently, determined not to answer- she already gave him a punishment and if she’s looking for an explanation as well, she wouldn’t be getting one from him.

“Are you sure you can handle this, Ms. Geetha?” Prakash quickly stepped in front of Geetha and asked. “I don’t charge that amount of money for no reason, I’m expensive because I am a good lawyer, I’ve handled dozens of identical cases, so you can go ahead and sue me if I fail,” she retorted. “Appreciate your confidence, and fairly that is why I have hired you, but I believe I’m now talking about handling that car steering of yours,” Prakash glanced at Geetha’s Mercedes. “You are not in the right state to drive, Geetha, I can tell that much,” he continued, glancing skirmish at Geetha as she did another puking face, before straightening up and pretending- for the umpteenth time- that the whiskeys that he had whisked down her throat in that bar have crashed against her wall of immunity, leaving her just as sober and aware as she always is. “I have done this before, countless of times, my Mercedes will be fine,” she stuttered. “I have to say it’s rather about whether you will be fine, you sure you don’t need anyone to drive you home?” Prakash was kneading a fine line between showing his concern and professionally respecting Geetha’s opinions. But he knew she wasn’t going to make it home in this state. “Will you drop me then?” he asked. “I’ll come with you, some other people will be in my car,” he added. Geetha turned around, smiled, sat, turned on the keys, and did another puking face. “Hop on,” she smiled and said after straightening up her face again. Prakash sighed.

It was more like a dream. Almost every one of them is. Prakash knows it from the numerous experiences he had with them in his life. He did not become a corporate mogul due to inheritance or sheer luck- he was in the streets as well, huffing and puffing like others in the city, wrote motorbikes in horrible weathers, experienced near-death experiences- he was used to all of it. But was she? He held her wrists, and knew for a certainty that she has just passed out. “Boss,” his driver patted his shoulder from outside of the car. “You ok?” he added, concerned. Prakash was still struggling to regain full consciousness, but he knew what happened. He looked down at his body. He has been cheated before. You don’t feel any pain and you think you are ok, until you start moving and the pain sinks into you. But not this time. “Take her out, she’s bleeding,” he told his driver. The shimmering light of Prakash’s own car, which has been following Geetha and him all along caught his eye- he was finally conscious, and seared in pain. Accidents aren’t pretty, all the more so when you ram a Mercedes at 100 mph on a divider. He understood what that look on his driver’s face meant- both he and she are lucky to have survived.

When Geetha opened her eyes, to finally recall everything that has happened- the meeting, the drinks, the overdose of it, the drunken feeling, the sheer disillusionment of thinking that she could drive while being drunk, agreeing to risk Prakash’s life as well by bringing him along, and ramming her car straight into a divider after not listening to Prakash’s frantic advises to turn the wheels or put on the brakes. “Damn,” she said, aching with a little pain on her forehead. “Yeah, damn, you survived,” it was her lovely brother sitting by the hospital bed, arms crossed, looking ignorantly as she tries to get her body straight up. “Too bad you did eh?” he added. She starred at him with coldness. “Your sister, someone who was apparently born six freaking years before you did, my brother, is in pain. Mind helping?” she asked sarcastically. Yuva finally moved to help place a pillow on Geetha’s back as she sat up straight. “Yeah, it’s all of your own doing, you were too much of a smart ass for your own good,” he replied. “You told Prakash that you did it countless of times before? How lucky should all of us feel that you are still alive then?” he stared intently at her, and at this, Geetha smiled. Despite that frustrated face of his, she knew what that look meant. “Aww,” she said. “I know you love me so much, come give your sister a big big hug.”

“You are unbelievable,” he said, moving forward to give her a warm, hesitant hug, careful not to touch upon any of her injuries and aggravate the pain. “Your cheeks seem red,” she said, noticing a red mark of Yuva’s cheeks. Being born to the fairer gene in the Indian family tree definitely did not help him there, to get found out so easily. He stoned himself, determined to try and ignore the questions. “Yuva?” Geetha was persistent. Yuva’s silence meant that there was something indeed that he was hiding, that there is a story behind the red mark on the cheek. “She slapped me,” he said, putting a sad face. “Who?…Nisha?” she asked, and at that moment she stuttered into a laughter as Yuva nodded. “You don’t have to be so crude,” he added. “Well, that’s classic. Why? What did you do? What did my lovey-dovey-adorable brother do to her eh?” at this, she pinched Yuva’s reddish cheeks. Yuva glanced at her, brewing in embarrassment. “I’ll talk to her, gosh, do I have to help you two make up with each other every time?” she sighed, with a smile on her face. “What did you do exactly?” she added abruptly, the smile fading from her face. She knew Yuva must have done something to warrant that wrath from Nisha, even though admittedly Nisha can be quite emotionally driven at times.

Nisha and Geetha both have a good relationship, a friendship of their own. It is for Geetha that Nisha fought with her editor, to ensure that the feature she wrote about Geetha remained a cover page story for the magazine she works for. Nisha has tried, with everything that she could, to be the person that Yuva wants her to be- the way she talks, the way she wears clothes- all these elements she has changed for his sake, and ultimately, she believed, for her own sake. But she could not tolerate being told how to speak to her own boyfriend by her own boyfriend. Whom is she supposed to impress? Is she supposed to impress him with the way she talks even after two years of being together? It wasn’t his mom or anybody else who were listening to that conversation, neither was she cranky nor offensive. Why that driven need to ask her to change her speaking pattern during even a private conversation, in which, she believed, is where everyone can just be themselves without trying too hard to please anyone else? What is this love that requires a person to change so much externally?

The phone rang. It was him. This was not the first time that this has happened. He would ask sorry, and he did. It was not the first time that Nisha had conveyed her feelings to Geetha and Geetha in turn made her brother understand how Nisha felt. Why is she unable to relay her feelings to him by herself? What is stopping her? She smiled as he started being a boyfiend again who makes everything look normal again. And slowly inside her, she buried the questions that have arised in her. But she knew, someday, somehow, they have to be awakened again, and that one time, they have to be answered. But for now, ignorance is bliss.

To be continued…

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 1

“He looks like a freaking tadpole,” she squirmed, hands crossed, sighing. He slowly moved to open his mouth, but she beat him to it. “I’ll do it,” she said, “you better don’t find excuses when you lose.” And then, within the blink of an eye, she was gone. Yuva gaped his mouth, as he watched his sister dissapear in the cluster of the crowd, and before the crowd would clear and his vision towards table 36 would become clear once again, he quickly turned back to face his own table. “I’m so not seeing this,” he whispered to himself, half smiling, half embarassed.

Five minutes passed by, and it began to sink in to Yuva that his whole challenge might be a futile one afterall. He finally found himself some courage to turn around and face what is actually going on between his sister and what she ingraciously referred as a person looking like a ‘tadpole’.

There she was, with a wide apologetic grin on her face, repeatedly breaking into giggles as the ‘tadpole’ has stood up, and opened his arms wondering, obviously wondering what is wrong with the woman sitting across his table.

He instinctively stood up from his table and started walking to table 36, and at the sight of each other, the siblings broke into fits of laughter, leaving the baffled tadpole even more stunned, as fellow onlookers, all settled in comfortably into their classy chairs in that classy restaurant, started diverting their attention to the drama unfolding in front of them.

“That never happened, sir. We apologise,” Yuva said, just about controlling his laughter, before taking his sister by her arms and scouting her away from the place, as the bewildered audience returned to their peaceful meals while forming their own interpretation of what actually just happened in front of their eyes.

It was a walk that ate up to half a kilometer before both of them could finally settle their nerves and regain their composure, as they found a bench to sit on and calm down. “No, you did not win it,” she started before he could speak anything about the challenge that she has just botched up. “Look at who’s finding excuses now,” he replied with a mild tone.

Deep inside, beyond the fits of laughter, a faint worry sparks in Geetha. There is nothing here that suggests that her brother’s casual remark is wrong or misleading. She does seem to be completely devoid of any ability to strike any purposeful, personal conversation with a guy. And she knows her failure in this challenge this time has nothing to do with her perceived fact that he looked like a tadpole. In fact, from a closer view, she seemed to think that he looked much better. “Maybe you are right,” she said softly.

“Geetha? Geetha Nair?” a very familiar voice called up. Geetha rolled her eyes up in disbelief, half anticpating to be publicly criticized for a baboonic behavior in a luxury restaurant. It’s the tadpole. “Oh, Prakash,” he intoduced himself, offering a hand out. Geetha mustered a smile and returned the gesture, knowing now that her chances of being verbally bashed in public have gotten significantly slimmer.

And now her brain will stop referring him as a tadpole. He has a name. It’s Prakash, and he doesn’t, in close view, look even remotely like a tadpole. She couldn’t recall what made her assume he looks like one.

“I just couldn’t recognize you just now, I have wanted to meet you myself,” he continued with a pleasant smile. She turned around bewildered towards her brother, who looked equally mystified. “I have a case, would you be willing to listen? I could drop you a card,” he continued further. “Sure,” she answered spontaneously. As usual, she doesn’t show any signs of waning confidence or hesitation when it comes to a professional conversation. She shoots Yuva a bragging look. “And do explain what was that just now as well when you do give me a call,” he said, and made his way off from their sight. Geetha maintained her high nosed look at her brother.

“At least I have this,” she said, slowly standing up as Yuva started walking away from the bench, an act that is so common of him ever since he was a kid. If Yuva doesn’t like something or feels irritated, he’d pave away from the place, out of the sights of people who are getting more attention than him.

“Where to now?” she asked loudly as he showed no sign of slowing down or to wait for his sister to join him on the walk, meaning that he has every intention of not walking with her anymore. “Nisha,” he replied abruptly and continued on his way. Geetha sighed turned her back on him and started walking in the other direction, glancing at the Prakash’s name card still nestled in her palms, taking out her mobile and start typing out his number.

“Nisha,” Carolyn said sternly, still looking down at the cluster of papers she was scribbling on as Rajes turned the doorknob of the editor’s office. Rajes knew what was coming for her dear friend, Nisha. She knows that sound, that tone, she knows it too well.  She made her way out and closed the door behind her, and walked slowly to her desk. “Nisha honey, she’s into you now,” she said softly. Nisha sighed heavily and quickly made her way into the editor’s office.

“I won’t take this piece, no matter how much you insist, I don’t understand why you can’t mellow down,” Carolyn sprang from her chair once Nisha got in. Carolyn knew for a fact that there is no use of fiddling around in coldness with a woman like Nisha, and she knows that Nisha knows that Nisha is needed in this office and any act of intimidation will only backfire for Carolyn.

“I know what you did for your sister, so either you put this on the cover page or I walk out of that office door,” Nisha blurted out. Carolyn started to raise her voice, but Nisha interrupted her. “Sorry Carol, that’s how it’s going to be. I haven’t had a cover page piece for a very long time now and I’m actually not in the mood for negotiations.”

Carolyn knew this woman was just like her, and that even though whatever she blurts out is largely due to the frustration of other things surrounding her life, it actually elevates her level of work productivity. She is good at what she does. And she is exactly like how Carolyn was, and still is- volatile, unpredictable yet effective at the end of the day. She nodded. It was a sign that Nisha is free to go, that Nisha has won their argument, that there shall be no more disputes on this matter.

Nisha walked out and headed to her desk to collect her things, and almost immediately made her way out of the office, and anyone who noticed were smart enough not to ask too many questions. Nisha is in a bad mood and she is better left alone.

She marched down the stairs and headed straight to a nearby restaurant, where a serene looking Yuva was seated. He glanced at her and afforded a mild smile, she came storming clumsily, as if in a total hurry. “You look worn out,” he said slyly as she approached. Nisha hesitated a couple of times, refused to take her seat, she has set in her mind what she needs to do in order to feel better but now executing that action is something else. But she’s impulsive as it gets, and she knows she has every right to do it. Moving closer to him, with her hair all over the place, and her glasses slightly slanting, she raised her right hand, and landed a tight slap across his left cheek. And she knew at that moment that she has just inflicted her boyfriend an embarrassment he’d never forget for the rest of his life.

To be continued…

Preview of TAsB’s treasures

THE RAINFOREST UNICORNS

Set in the backdrop of a contemporary Kuala Lumpur, TRU explores the most diverse plateaus of human emotions- driven by six characters who are totally different in their own ways.

In a world where many of us stumble as we try to decide what will we use as our life’s guide and measure, the only common characteristic that pertains these six individuals would be their decision to just follow their heart completely.

As with anything, following your heart completely and jumping into vital decisions based on that faith does have its own ups and downs, but one thing is ever so apparent- the heart never fails to tell you a story.

From a buccaneering female lawyer to a young college student confused of her sexual identity- TRU is a bold, enigmatic, imaginative reveal of how life measured by heart breaks endless barriers and is constantly changing.

A REALITY WITHOUT A SHADOW

ARWAS is a criminally imaginative story, also one of my earliest and most ambitious brainchild. An epic science-fiction caper, the story not only explores the medium of science fiction itself, but also has elements of human attitudes strewn into it.

Sometimes the ambitious and seemingly ridiculous dreams you develop when you are still a raw teenager does seem to have the deepest substances, it only takes you time to realize what you were capable of.
Writing ARWAS again is an abode to my fiery, radical-minded youth, something that we have to keep flaming with a measure of maturity and calmness if we were to attain and fulfill our potentials in life.

ARWAS starts with the story of two close friends who are deported to India in a special program as junior police officers, and how a series of mysterious murders set a chain of events that went beyond everyone’s comprehension, leaving the baffled characters to pursue a larger truth that puts the entire humanity’s longevity at stake.

TRU will post its first episode on August 8

ARWAS will post its first episode on August 10.

Ram Anand. 2010.