The backlash of an opportunity


My existence is no less than the life of characters in a thriller because like them, I was born the day my mortal creator decided that I was to be born. But where characters in a novel get authors to patronise them, nurture them and nourish them and they get a chance to be immortal on the pages of a story or a novel… I always get hurled out with a lot of venomous intent. My opportunity nearly always boomerangs and hits me like a lash.

I am an abuse. A word. A family of words. In all languages, including the non-verbal one that management pundits are always taking about. I have a voice of my own and a character that not many willingly follow or write about or are really happy about. I distinctly remember the day I tumbled out of a famous politician’s mouth hurtled unsupported through space and watched innocent people squirm and wince and yet look at me with a twinkle that had a tinge of admiration. I was surprised. I asked, ‘What is it that you like in me?’

‘You carry a lot of honesty and conviction this time,’ said a glance, ‘and you reflect the times. All other words seem like your courtiers and bow to you.’

‘Really?’ I am surprised but manage to hide it well. Politics and politicians have always baffled me. They seem to be the only ones who are capable enough to use me and my services to win support. I love them and sometimes I wish I were in OGs (Olive Green uniform) and fighting their wars in closely knit platoons. I love the sounds that go rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat and clak-clak-clak-clak or whiiish-thud… there is so much adventure hidden in them. Well, the funny thing is that I don’t stick to just one person and love floating in heated thermals that meander menacingly through every place where humans are.

Let me tell you about that special moment when a teacher hit this kid hard below his right ear. The ear wasn’t touched by the slap but still went red as I watched from a distance. We abuses have a code of our own and do not go near humans unless we are called. It is almost like dialling some number that I’ve seen humans do to call a cab. No, we don’t have a number and no app yet, though we’re as alert to summons. Now don’t call us Uber or Ola or Meru yet because our services come free. No, we never charge because it is a charged human who picks us up to throw, fling, hurtle, or swing again and again.

So I was telling you about this little kid who was hit by his teacher. I think I heard his friends call him Deepak. Deepak looked around stunned and stammered out a hesitating reply, ‘What did I do wrong, sir?’

‘Wrong?’ thundered the teacher, ‘You have the guts to ask me what wrong you have done? Deeeeepak, you were looking out of the window when I was teaching. Is this correct?’

‘I…I…’ stammered Deepak, ‘was hearing you s…s…sir.’

‘Shut up and sit down now,’ said the teacher. The class was silent but charged and so was Deepak. This was the moment when his right ear that was redder than the left, signalled to me to come. I could see Deepak was struggling to remember some really appropriate and spicy abusive word but was unable to recall any from any of the Bollywood movies he had seen. Now these are moments when we abuses decide among ourselves to send a few of us forward and this is what we call professional responsibility. We go in as a God sent opportunity and get immediately spitted out, sometimes only as a whisper, and then… well, I’m so ashamed to even tell you what happens to me sometimes… like it did in the Deepak fiasco where I had sent a harmless bloody with another b-word that gentlemen in the army use quite frequently. This combo has a sort of battle fatigue trailing it and I sincerely thought they would rightly calm the kid.

Deepak hissed, ‘Bloody b***ard!’

The teacher did not hear anything because by then he was attending a call on his mobile. The other children in the class did hear that distinct hiss and the distinctive b-words. After the class was recess and believe me, I saw my fellow abuses being made to dance to a million different accents and tunes and I’m sure my warrior b-words felt like your Rakhi Sawant in an item number in a B-grade Bollywood movie.

Yes sir, I’ve seen life. I’ve seen it all not just from the podium in Ramlila Maidan or inside a classroom of a Government Model school… I have watched it closely in homes and offices too. In shops and in buses. In the trains and on the roads. High above in flights and in penthouses where the rich seek our services as they sip their Vintage Port or a 620 Cabernet Sauvignon with canapés from the far East mixing freely with their tipsy drool.

The best time I ever had was when an author and his book reviewer used me and my friends in their choicest pseudo-literary camouflage… which also is proof that I do have a life that isn’t all wild and whirling sound bytes that fade away into nothingness.

‘Your review is nothing but like blackened piss-spots on the toilet role that your blog actually is,’ wrote this angry author to a reviewer on a popular social media platform. I guess his book was reviewed and the author wasn’t happy at what the reviewer had written about it.

‘Well,’ wrote the reviewer back, ‘do I call Shakespeare’s balls by any other name? I mean even then they’d remain just that, wouldn’t they?’

‘I can show you your place, you farting keyboard of a dung-smeared laptop… but I will not because I do not want to waste any more words on you and your review,’ replied the author. I knew then that this was battle-royal and would not end anytime soon. They were bent upon mating us pure abuses with literature, technology and possibly every other subject and object in the universe and this was a time when I felt both proud as well as a trifle apprehensive. We abuses are full of history and we know and have seen history happening. We have seen Hitler in Germany talk about the pure races and we have seen the Chettinad, Malay, and the Chinese get into a social cake-mix to create the Perankans in Singapore. We have seen religions wage wars against each other and have watched the Khaps slicing mercilessly anyone who dared to defy their definition of a sane marriage.

So yes, the world of abuses was alarmed to hear new usages being coined… but the best feature of the character of abuses is that it accepts every deviation and aberration. Read Wodehouse if you do not believe me. Read the charmed aristocracy bring in harmless words and turn them into effective and earth-shaking abuses. This is conversion at its best, for sure.

But let me get on and tell you a bit more of that interesting war of abuses between the book writer and the book reviewer. The writer then continued to write, ‘Your reviews are like used condoms that were anyway used by flaccid things. I wonder if you are capable of creating a work that will ever live.’

The reviewer calmly wrote back, ‘The agony of your ambitions resembles the jauntiness of a person who thinks entering the anal is the same as entering the annals. So stop telling the world that you write with pens that have measles, and learn to play scrabble with words and not keep raping each that comes your way.’

We abuses can be rather beastly when we are inclined to and we aren’t always not worthy of being uttered. There is surely some ancient spark of creative impulse that connects us abuses and we love this avatar just as much as we do the sort of riff-raff that we mostly are.

We are funny and we’re serious,
We bruise and we can hurt,
We are abrasive and can be fatal too
We can be gentle but are mostly curt! 

We have words that you’ll love
As there is in us a bit of poetry at times
But at times you’ll hate us
And then we’re prosaic sans poetic chimes.

So you see we are multi-talented and so we can get access to all sorts of humans. I know most of my patrons will not choose to call me endearing or charming… but fascinating I am. And, by the way, when I say I am something I mean we are something. You see, we abuses are one and can exist as individuals as well as collectively. Sometimes though I get confused… do I change my nature or is it humans who make me look so different? I’ll tell you about the time when I was absolutely and completely foxed.

These two course-mates from the defence academy met and the first one gave a broad smile and shouted, ‘How the hell are you, you bugger?’

‘All well, ba***rd! Seeing you after such a long fu**in’ time.’

Well, I was confused. I thought, ‘Have I suddenly ceased to be abusive? Has the world transformed in a moment and my identity lost for ever?’ Here are these two gentlemen using me and yet not sounding abusive. But then like all humans even our life is surrounded by a plethora of paradoxes. We begin as one and live as another to end as a third yet undiscovered one. There is some sort of a novelty in every way, every usage and I tell the truth when I say that I am constantly discovering and re-discovering my real nature.

There was a journalist friend who I heard ask a film star, ‘Does success ever surprise you?’ I do not remember now her response to that question, but I do remember it hitting me like a sharp splinter as my consciousness rephrased it to make sense to my abusive destiny, ‘Does anything ever surprise you?’

Yes, a lot of things surprise me. Like the time when I was floating around in the library of the university and paused to serve a group of giggling students huddled in a circle under a tree in the college lawn. They had their books open and their pens poised. They were concentrating and yet they burst into laughter. They were making frantic calls to my abusive being and I simply had to rush to their rescue though I was wondering how I could serve students sitting in a friendly huddle.

‘Come on guys, give a nice clue to my word,’ said one, as he wrote in capitals: SUCKER. There was one who simply replaced the S with an F and smiled as he said, ‘Here is my contribution to our abuse crossword.’

‘Aha!’ I said to myself, ‘So they are creating an entire crossword with abuses and cuss-words! I am flattered.’ I patted my back as I told myself and all my brethren, ‘You guys are obviously doing a wonderful job. Kudos to us all!’

Not surprisingly, we did hear one of those crossword-making students say, ‘It appears that the PR for abuses is strong in these times!’ They laughed and it made my chest expand to a full 56 inches, as I mumbled, ‘We abuses aren’t the sort who will govern for only 49 days!’ This reference to 49 days reminds me to tell you that there is no place where we cannot penetrate. We are there in every parliament of the world. Yes sir, we hobnob with the best legislative brains of the world just as we incept writers and poets too. We have this uncanny ability to even change our roving, nomadic form and turn into thoughts to remain the resident abuse in a brain.

That’s right… we do remain as the resident abuse in a person’s thoughts. So we’re no less than resident poets or acclaimed writers, are we? What? You need an example for this? Hmmm… just introspect and grope your recent past. You will know how much we are inside you as you read the daily news in the morning or listen to the news on the television in the evening. There are times when you don’t even realise the extent of abusive thoughts that jog inside you as you hear of the way corrupt officials behaving like uncouth scavengers or you watch some innocent girl tell the world of the kind of scum that molested her. You must have got a fair drift of what I am trying to say. Yes sir, I am in your thoughts for sure. I know there isn’t one thinking human who remains uninfected by us. Not that we are proud of this feat.

The only thing that makes me uneasy is when I get mouthed by those who claim to be sages and saints. Yes, I don’t like it a bit when a saffron-clad human utters ‘h****zade’ or when I’m made to hold the hands of Allah and exist in a fatwa or when any messenger of God swings me and my friends around me and throws us at an unsuspecting audience. We love to hurt but not like this. Even us abuses have a code of decency, you see… and we do not mix our existence with the existence of the spirits to drive home our point!

I, or should I say we, have travelled the world, seen life through the ages and are still not tired of it all. We are as ageless as the Gods and the demons and are as much in love with time as you probably are. We are a notion and yet I know that we are as much palpable as a rowdy ulcer or tumour can be. We adopt a wrinkle just as easily as we marry a twinkle. We are the immortals. We are the abuses.




Published by Readomania on 23 July 2015 after it was one of the winning stories in a contest

2015_07_23_Readomania_short story_The backlash of an opportunity

2015_07_23_Readomania_short story_The backlash of an opportunity




Arvind Passey
Written on 18 April 2015

Published by Readomania on 23 July 2015 after it was one of the winning stories in a contest