Thursday, January 27, 2011

No 1 Fan - Part 3 - The Book

"Look, would it help if I told you why I'm here?"
His head snapped up at this sudden lifeline being thrown his way. He took a deep breath and said as if she'd just asked him whether he'd like her to remove the Great White Shark snacking on his vertebral column, "Yes, please."
"Very well then. This is why I'm here."
She fished around in the jhola she had with her. Finally she took out a book.
It was a rather unremarkable book, much dog-eared with a once bright yellow dust jacket, now faded with age and repeated perusals. The cover depicted a little boy and girl riding astride a centaur, surrounded by a multitude of fantastic beasts: dragons, manticores, ogres et al.
The Red Door by Tarun Rai.
A book that was widely panned by critics shortly before its release, but quickly sold out when it hit stores. Its signature blend of characters culled from a dozen different ancient myths, large, colourful and yet bland pictures, cringe-worthy verses, one-dimensional characters and more than a sprinkling of all-too familiar themes (plagiarism? Maybe a little.) proved inexplicably popular with children below the age of 10 and, more importantly, their parents. More important because whether or not their tiny tot really liked the book, every mother and father wanted their child to read it because it was "safe", "innocent" and, that most hideous of all adjectives, "cute".
And so it sold. Thousands of kids read about little Hari and Neha who find a gateway to a magical world called Jaadupur in their scooter garage, befriend Bawarchi, the erstwhile king (now chef) of the land and, finally, overthrow the evil dragon, Chip-kali, who had long ago usurped the throne (no explanation for why a dragon would want to usurp the throne, considering the local villagers already worshipped it. Not to mention how it did so, considering it was killed by a pair of 8-year-olds. With a broom. An enchanted broom, granted, but still, it's a rather tenuous argument.), after which they promptly and rather annoyingly live happily ever after with their various pixie friends who merely serve as cardboad cut-outs of characters.
He hated that book. Loathed it actually. He would often rip pages out of his own copy to use as toilet paper. He had also taken to ripping it apart in online chat rooms under the name TarunRaiSucks363784 (yes, there were actually 363783 others, probably more), an activity from which he derived a rather sadistic pleasure, especially if the person he was chatting with happened to be a fan. He actually kept a notebook in which he had noted down all the fallacies of the plot ('What happened to the kids' parents? Did they just leave them behind without even a note? Rotten kids.' or 'Exactly why is Bawarchi resigned to live his life as a chef? Do people really want such a lackadaisical, inefficient ruler who can't even find a damn broom without the help of little kids? Come to think of it, who the hell names their son Bawarchi? I mean, come on!!!' or 'Why the Red Door? Nowhere in the book is there a significant red door. The door to the scooter garage is painted white, for crying out loud!' and so on).
He despised it.
Its very name made him shudder in disgust.
It was also one of the first books he had written.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No 1 Fan - Part 2 - Just Checking

<Okay, I know it's been a while since I've put anything up. Basically, I've been strapped for time. Or, to be precise, I never seem to be in the mood to write and have time to write at the same time.
Anyway, I've had certain observers of this blog ask me why I've been hibernating, so I decided to break the rest of "No 1 Fan" into even smaller installments, so I can at least have regular posts.
This next one's pretty inconsequential, but it moves the story along and, hopefully, keeps you in suspense. Or maybe it'll just piss you off.
Whatever the case may be, enjoy. More to come>

He gaped at her for a while. Then he realized he looked ridiculous with his mouth hanging open and decided to close it. He looked up at her. She was looking at him expectantly. He opened his mouth to say something, realized he had nothing to say and shut the hell up once more. She was still looking at him, one eyebrow raised. He started sweating. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. He repeated this little exercise a few more times before clearing his throat.
Then he just stared at her.
Slowly, he grew suspicious. Had he heard her right? Best to make sure.
The bored expression partially left her face.
"Um... sorry, but what did you say?"
"I said 'yes' with a lilt at the end which generally suggests that what I said was interrogative in nature."
"Riiiiight... no, I mean what did you say before that?"
"Are you okay, Mr. Rai?"
"Before that."
"Oh. I said, "My name's Anita Sen.""
"And I'm your number one fan."
"Ah, right."
And then he went back to doing his goldfish impression.

To be continued...