So it was that I started searching again today, for all the unwritten stories/novels. There were plenty of them and some had even crossed 10,000 words. The one I chose to post today was written a month after I had finished writing “Living with Smoke”. This new one which I had tentatively titled, “The Lost Cause” had a number of characters in it and within the first 10,000 words, I had introduced a few of them. Reading through it today, I had no doubt as to why I must have dropped it.
I can’t keep track of too many characters and too many plots. I can probably do it at a later point in time. But, at the moment, I just happen to enjoy writing about three or four main characters; like in “Living with Smoke”, the story revolved only around Nisha, Smoke and Sujoy. If I get to the point of dealing with more characters more effectively, there are some stories waiting to be written. And I mean, stories which are very close to my heart.
This excerpt from The Lost Cause, which was eventually never completed and which I hope to complete some day, is the introduction of one of its characters. He is a fun-loving guy called Jerome. His part was written based on a person I knew. He was someone who liked his drinks ever too often and he strongly believed the pubs in Bangalore should be open till four in the morning. I mean, he was one of several who wanted the same thing. With his fictional counterpart Jerome, I have taken my liberties and exaggerated the mannerisms. But, some of them remain true. Now, readers, please don’t come asking me who he is. I can say no more than this. The excerpt follows.
He was bored. How could anyone sit through a long seminar such as this? His only interest in coming had been the cocktail and dinner that would follow. He looked at his watch again. Time moved slower inside a seminar hall. He wondered what Einstein would have had to say about this. He looked at the papers in front of him. It was a very loose topic. The presenter didn’t have much to say about it. He had been rewording the same presentation over and over again.
Jerome tried hard to concentrate on the seminar. If he could raise some questions, it could be considered a worthwhile visit. Nothing came to his mind. His professors at college had told him that if he didn’t get any questions after a lecture, it meant either of two things: one, he understood everything, or two, he didn’t understand anything. Jerome decided that he understood everything. He could probably answer any question the speaker himself had. This topic had been in all leading trade magazines for more than a year now. To justify his sponsorship expenses, the speaker need not have gone to an extent where everyone in the audience would eventually despise him.
Jerome looked at everybody around him. He could see one or two nerdy creatures taking down everything the presenter said, into their notepads. All others were immersed in a state of intoxication somewhere between asleep and awake. Jerome guessed he would have looked the same too, from a different perspective.
Jerome tried concentrating on other matters like… like what… Ah, the pretty girl at the registration desk. She had let out a few words: “welcome”, “your business card”, “thank you” and “take your seat inside”. She had the nicest attire he had seen on any girl in recent times. He wondered how much she must have cost to the sponsors. He fantasized taking her out, taking her to bed and then… He smiled to himself.
“And with this, we’ve come to the end of the seminar. So, if any of you may have questions, I can answer you.” The presenter had come to his end. Jerome looked up glad. Everyone in the audience stretched out, as if to wake up from their slumber. The two bright young engineers had their questions ready on their notepads. One after the other each started shooting questions taking turns. No one else had anything to ask or say. Jerome looked at his watch. It was well past ten. He looked at the two whiz kids, young from engineering school ready to take on the world.
Jerome wondered if he had been the same eight years ago when he got out of engineering college. No, he didn’t change in all the years. He was bored then. He is bored now. The entire audience now shifted their attention to the kids with loathe. They didn’t have much time. They eagerly looked towards the bar. Jerome stood up and walked towards the bar. He couldn’t wait any longer. He couldn’t wait till the sponsors invited him.
Everyone followed his cue. The presenter decided to wind up his Q&A session too. The kids were way off the mark with the questions. Filling his glass with vodka, Jerome walked around the hall. The girl at the registration desk was still around. He inched closer to her, one step at a time.
“Heyllo. You look very impatient and tired.” Jerome mentioned to her. She looked all that.
“Yes, I do.” She said, with a faint smile.
“Why?” Jerome asked, with interest.
“Well, in the first place, they told me I would be allowed to go by half past nine. And secondly, I’m hungry.” She answered.
“So, you don’t work with this company?”
“No, I’m on part-time. I’m a student.” She answered, with patience.
“And what do you study?”
“Final year, engineering, computer science”
“And your name?”
“Hmmm… You have a pretty name. And you are very pretty too.” Jerome spoke and wondered he was getting high on the first shot of vodka.
She smiled, paused and then said, “Thank you.” Jerome felt a strange attraction towards the girl. He wondered if he should ask the sponsors to bring her to bed with him. He voted against it. He was not yet drunk. On an empty stomach, alcohol always traveled faster. He went for a refill. When he came back, he found that Reema had found other fans as well. He didn’t want to lose her.
“So, which college are you studying in?” He asked when she was done with the other visitors. She gave the name of her college and then he asked, “Where are you from?”
“Coorg.” She replied.
“Would you like to be in touch?” He asked, now well into the second glass.
“Sorry… I didn’t get you.” She asked with a suspicious look.
“Would you like to be in touch… with me?” He repeated his question.
“No!” The brakes screeched inside his mind. He moved a little away from her and looked at his glass. It was over. He didn’t want to overdo it. He walked to the buffet table. As he served the salads on to the plate, he looked through the corner of his eyes towards where she stood. She was looking at him.
He should have known better. Which girl would have said, she was eager to bed with him? No, he didn’t ask that. But, he had asked something. Yes, he had asked her to be in touch with him. That was rude for a first meeting. He decided to forget about her. What a waste of time!
“Zafar… Zafar…” He called out.
“Another party?” Zafar asked. The phone call after the midnight before Sunday was not unusual. There was often someone or the other who provided food and fun, only for listening to a couple of hours’ crap.
“Yes… the new lighting control company… I’m not drunk, Zafar!” Jerome answered. There was nothing in his voice to suggest that he was not drunk.
“I can see that. So, what’s your excuse for tonight’s call?” Zafar asked impatiently.
“A girl… she broke my heart…” Jerome sounded hurt.
“Jerry, I didn’t know you were seeing someone. Who was it and what happened?” Zafar asked, with a little concern this time.
“Well, I saw her for the first time, tonight. Yet she broke my heart.” Jerome answered, with not a hint of humor.
“A-ha… Can we talk about this tomorrow? I need to get to bed.” Zafar excused himself.
“Zafar, I’m not drunk. I didn’t have more than three shots.”
© Suhail Rasheed, 2012
Yeah, that’s it for now! Does Jerome remind you of anyone you know? Do let me know. Good Day! Good Night!!