Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Thin Line

K worked as a Java programmer in a multinational firm which made artificial intelligence software that aided automated trading. He was the best in business and was regarded highly by everyone in the company. He could conceive algorithms and write software programs in his sleep. Naturally he was well paid. He was thirty seven years old and still a bachelor. It was not that he never fell in love or someone did not fall in love with him. He had had many flings ranging from one month to two years. It was not that he lacked commitment. It was not that he was unfaithful. It was not that he was not willing to compromise. He was always the one willing to make a sacrifice. He always thought he gave more than a hundred percent to any relationship he had been in. Despite of this for some reason all his relationships lacked longevity. Quite simply it never worked out. Every relationship of his had left a bitter feeling inside him. It was not just in love that he felt betrayed. He had the same feelings for his friends. He had befriended many but for some reason the friendship would sooner or later lose steam. Whenever he looked back he could not see what his fault was? "Why do people leave me high and dry?" was a question that he could never find an answer for. As far as he could think he had always been deceived. By girl friends, friends, relatives, colleagues, bosses, parents, everyone. He felt used. Everyone around him had deserted him. No one gave a shit about him and he didn’t really know whether he cared or not. It had been two years since he had any conversation that was not about finance or software. His life all but revolved around his laptop. It was hard but he had made peace with it. Every now and then he would have a bout of depression but he would pull himself out of it. Alcohol or when it hurt real bad marijuana always came to his rescue. Life was not that bad either he would think. It was then on a fateful evening that he found Mush.

It was a day no different from any other. He came back from his office and opened up a can of Coke. He booted his laptop and surfed to his favourite porn site. After a little while he went to the kitchen to heat up the pizza from last night. He picked up the pan and was taken aback when he saw a mouse devouring on what was supposed to be his dinner. It was slowly working upon a little piece of chicken. A small mouse that was as big as a one year old baby's hand lay besides it and was sucking on its nipples. K's initial reaction was to throw the pile in the dustbin and that's what he did. He had lost all his appetite and got back to his bedroom. He lit up a cigarette and turned on the television to divert his mind. He smoked five cigarettes one after another.

It was time to sleep. He picked up the completely filled ashtray and walked towards the kitchen. He opened up the bin's lid and emptied the ashtray in it. The cigarette butts and the ash fell on the two creatures inside. The big one lied motionless upside down with its protruded belly and the chicken piece still stuck in its mouth. It was dead. The little one slowly opened its eyes, probably for the first time. K felt wrecked that he left the mother and the offspring to die in there and his heart was filled with sudden guilt. He picked up the small mouse with its tail and got it out of the bin. He rested the mouse on his left hand and observed the creature carefully. The small mammal had a short tail. The eyes were half open and it was breathing heavily. There were patches of brown hair alongside the short white hair. The hair were so short that he could see its pink skin. The cigarette ash was stuck all over its hair. The touch of it was soft and a tender. The mouse was weightless and K felt like holding a cotton ball in his hand. He stroked its hair gently and carefully cleared away the ash with his right hand. He gazed at the little creature for few minutes. He picked it up, opened up his apartment's door and carefully kept it outside on the floor. He felt elated with his little act of kindness.

He got ready for the office next morning and saw the little one lying where he had left it last night when he was about to lock his door. The mother was no more for it to feed upon. Left alone there it would surely die. Feeling responsible for its mother demise he went in and poured three tea spoons of milk in a small plate. He put the plate on the floor and moved the little mouse on it. Its eyes were completely open now. K looked at it adorably. The creature did not move for two minutes and then stuck its small tongue out. With a considerable amount of effort it gulped the cold milk. It was obvious that the little one was hungry. K took the plate to the kitchen and poured seven more tea spoons of milk. This time around it worked on the milk even more labouredly and left an ample portion. Then it closed its eyes and was fast asleep. K was amazed with the fact that it took a few drops of milk only for it to satisfy its hunger. It was enough of an effort for it to be tired and fall asleep. K left the little one there and rushed to his office.     

He was relatively free and Googled for 'mouse' after taking care of that day's work. He scanned some images to conclude that the little one at his home was known as a house mouse. He surfed to a Wikipedia page that had detailed information on it. He estimated the little one to be two weeks old based upon what he read. The introduction told him that people keep mice as pets. The idea struck. It was the least he could do for the creature that he had orphaned. He got back home later that evening to find the mouse sleeping on the plate. It had drunk all the milk. He picked it up and observed it. From the information that he had gathered on web he concluded that it was a male. The Wikipedia page mentioned that it belonged to the species of the genus Mus. He thought for a while and named it Mush. He got a big bowl and tucked some cotton on one side of it. He kept the bowl in his bedroom besides his bed. He put Mush in it. It was supposed to be its home. He put some milk on the other side of the bowl. He gazed at it endearingly for few minutes and then went about his business.

The next four weeks went as usual. Every morning K would get up to see Mush lying in its home. It became a ritual for him to pour some milk as soon as he got up and stroke his pet gently. He would repeat the same exercise in the evening. Once every day he would clean up the bowl that stunk from Mush's excretion and put some fresh cotton in it. By the end of week two Mush could stand on its four legs. Mush was nocturnal like any other mouse, most active in the night. Lying in his bed K would look upon the little creature running inside the bowl trying to make its way out. The bowl however was too large for Mush to escape. He would get Mush out of the bowl and let it roam around chasing it. "Run boy run. No don't go in there, that's the bathroom. Turn around. You think you can run faster than me? You cute little boy. It’s time to sleep". He would pick it up and put it back into the bowl. Apart from milk K started feeding Mush on chunks of bread, vegetables, cereal and at times tiny tender pieces of chicken. At times when K would get back from office he would see Mush eating its own droppings. He would pick it up and scold it lovingly like a mother does when her kid sticks his or her thumb in the mouth. "Stop. Don't you dare do that Mush. How many times I have told you? Stop eating your potty. I will give you a tight slap you naughty boy". Mush was growing rapidly and K knew that sooner or later it would make its way out. On one hand he was waiting for that moment like a mother waits for her kid to walk and on the other hand he was worried for Mush to pop out of its bowl one day and get lost. He decided to lock his bedroom door whenever he was away.

Mush was almost seven weeks old when it finally made the breakthrough. K returned from his office and didn't see it in the bowl. He closed the bedroom door immediately to ensure that it didn't escape and started looking for it anxiously. He scanned the floor, looked beneath his bed, and looked behind his wardrobe. He even peered inside his shoes. Mush was nowhere to be found. K looked at the little space beneath his bedroom door. It was too small for Mush to have escaped from there. Worriedly he sat on the bed and saw Mush resting in its bowl munching cereal. He immediately picked it up. "You little scoundrel, you scared the shit out of me. You have become very smart, haven't you? You think you can play these games with me?". He kissed him for the first time. He moved the bowl to the other side of the bed and left Mush on the floor and observed keenly. After running around for eleven minutes it found its home and jumped in it. "My boy is so sharp" K said happily. Despite the fact that Mush would get into its nest like an obedient kid K would keep the bedroom door locked. 

It was on a Saturday when K realized that he was not the only one in the house with a passion for heavy metal. It being a weekend he got up late and fed Mush as usual.  He played Black Sabbath and logged onto his laptop to check his email. Mush would always go to sleep after its morning meal but on that day as soon as the song 'Paranoid' started rocking the bedroom Mush got out of its bowl and started running around as if in exhilaration. Engrossed in his laptop K didn't take a notice. Mush moved its head and wagged its little tail to the guitar riffs. K stopped the music to take a phone call. Mush rested on its tail and tilted its head towards K as if asking him to play the song again. K made the connection when he played the song again after his phone call. Mush was back in action. K was thrilled to see its reaction to the song. He played the song repeatedly and head banged himself as he saw Mush leap all over the bedroom. "This is Black Sabbath my boy. Black Sabbath, the greatest rock band ever. How about I play some Iron Maiden for you?". He played 'Hallowed be thy Name'. Mush seemed to enjoy it as much as he did. That day and the next were spent giving Mush a crash course on rock music. It was also the day when he started talking at length with Mush. He played all the bands he loved and with every song would give a brief about its genre, the band members, its history, and his favourite songs. Mush seemed to enjoy Black Sabbath and Metallica the most. It didn't show any particular interest in Pink Floyd, a band that K was in love with. K tried his best but every time he would play Floyd Mush wouldn't show any interest. "Try it Mush. They are the best. It will get on to you slowly". After repeated attempts he gave up. "Ok. Ok. I won't play Pink Floyd when you are around. Look at you. You have already started throwing tantrums. It's my love and affection that has spoilt you". Thus the original ritual changed slightly. Every morning with its meal Mush would get a dose of heavy metal. Of course only the bands it liked.

K returned home disgruntled a few weeks later after a bad day at work. "Mush, my office management is full of lunatics. First of all they hire this idiot of a woman named Aarochita and then appoint the bitch as manager for the project I had been working on. I tell you the only reason they hired her was her big boobs. The bitch can't even spell the word finance but she spends half the day giving me lessons and asking me to give her a walkthrough of the code. Why can't the whore simply do what she has been hired for? Suck everyone around. My previous manager was so good to me. He never interfered in my work and let me do things my way. I am not going to bloody take this shit. If this goes on I will find a new job". He made himself a drink. He realized that it had been almost two months since he had one. Mush had kept him busy. He came back to Mush and went on and on talking about everyone in the office. People he didn't care about. People he disliked which included a girl that he had crush on at a point in time. A very small and elite list of two new team members that he thought he liked. As he was talking he poured some scotch in Mush's bowl. Mush smelled it and turned its head. "Have it baby. It's a magic potion. You will get a sound sleep tonight". Despite all his efforts Mush did not relent. "Why don't you listen into me? If I tell you something it’s for your good only. You'll do as I say" K screamed. It was the first time he screamed at his little friend. A scared Mush got out of its bowl and ran out. K realized that he had been rude to it and got it in his hands. "I'm sorry my boy. I'm sorry. It’s all because of that bitch who wants me to do things her way". That night he put Mush on the bed alongside him and slept caressing it. From that day on he would always sleep with it. Every morning when he woke up he would find Mush either in its nest or running around in the bedroom. He stopped locking the bedroom door and let Mush run around in the house trusting that it would always get back to its nest.

It was time for Mush's day out. It was thirteen weeks old now and K thought it was good idea for him to take Mush out for a movie. For the first time in last three years he had company for a movie. He put it in his jacket's pocket and got inside the movie theatre. He bought popcorns and got settled himself on a corner seat. After the movie started playing he got it out. He kept it in his hand all the while and fed him popcorns. Twenty nine minutes into the movie the guy seated next to him screamed out loud as if he had seen a lion. The security personnel came in rushing and after they realized what had happened asked K to get rid of the mouse. K told them that it’s his friend and not an ordinary mouse but no one listened. He barged out of the movie theatre angrily. "Don't you worry dear. I will get DVDs so that we can watch movies at home". He rented a few DVDs and got back home. They were glued to the screen and watched three movies that day and K played commentator narrating every little detail about the movie as it played. K hadn't been laid for almost a year now. He called up a number and it was arranged. At the stipulated time his door bell rang. "Hello! I am Pratayakshika" she said in a voice that was enough to seduce K. She was hot and K had an instant erection. He got her to the bedroom and it was her time to scream now. Mush woke up. "What's the problem?" K asked. "Get this filthy creature out of here. Right now". "How dare you call it filthy you bitch? That's my friend Mush" K screamed back. K's excitement had gone from the crust to trough in three seconds. He asked her to leave. "Don't worry Mush. The witch is gone".

Mush was a full grown healthy adult. K realized that over a period of time its penchant for music had gradually diminished. It was eating less and remained dull. K would speak to it trying to cheer it up but all in vain. All day it kept on sniffing as if searching for something. K was worried and thought may be Mush was sick. He decided to visit a veterinarian. The doctor checked Mush and told K pointing at Mush's large testicles that it was looking out to mate. He knew the feeling and planned some good times for Mush. He bought a female mouse and returned back home that day a happy man. He let loose the two of them and waited for them to make a move. It was the first time that Mush had seen a fellow mouse. He sniffed the female and chased her. Both of them seemed to have fun and K felt elated seeing Mush. He had never seen it so pumped up. He waited for them to get into the real action but nothing happened. They were probably checking each other out. When he got up the next morning he didn't see Mush in its nest. It was the first time that it had happened. He looked around and there it was making out love. He stepped out of his room without making a noise and whispered, "I am going to leave the two of you here. Have some fun all day today". K got back that evening and saw the two lovers chasing each other and having a ball. He fed them and left them alone. The pattern continued for three more days. The two little ones were very fond of each other and inseparable.  

The bitch in the office continued to annoy him. He wanted to talk it out with someone. Mush was out dating in the living room. K approached it and said, "Mush I need to talk to you and discuss something important". He picked it up leaving his date in the living room. He moved to the bedroom and realized two things. First, the female mouse followed him to the bedroom. Second, for the first time in its life Mush tried to break free from his hands. "What's your problem Mush? You have had so much fun lately. Don't you see I am having a hard time? I am planning to change my job and I can't get my mind straight if that's the right thing to do. Nothing will happen if you don't have sex for a day. I haven't had it for one year now. I let that prostitute go when I saw that she scared you. This is what you give me back in return?" he said annoyingly. Mush's ears were closed. It made further attempts to come out of his hand. K was not going to let go. After many futile attempts Mush bit him hard. His hand started to bleed. He let go of it and saw Mush jump out of his hands and join the company it wanted to be in. K left the two of them there. He picked up a book lying on his bed and threw it on the wall in anger.

It went on for another week. One morning when he got up the two of them were fast asleep in the bowl. He got ready and quietly picked up the female. On his way to the office he left it out in the open. "Mush, I did it for both of us. That little bitch was trying to come in between us" he said to himself. He got back home in the afternoon to see how Mush was doing. He did not find Mush in its nest. It was running and sniffing all over the house. Mush knew what it was looking for and it pissed him. "I am not going to feed you if you behave like this" he screamed. After Mush realized that it would not find what it was looking for it settled itself in the bowl looking for its meal. K picked it up and put it in a larger bowl and put a lid on top of it leaving a little gap so that it could breathe. He could hear it running around and jumping inside it all night trying to come out of it. "I punished you because you left me with no choice" K said as he picked him up next morning. "I'm sure you are hungry. I will serve you chicken today but you have to promise that you won't act as you have done in the last few weeks. We are friends. Aren't we?". Mush savoured the meal but as soon as its hunger was satisfied he jumped out and ran towards the living room in search to satisfy another one. K watched him closely for next few days. He tried to lighten it up by talking affectionately, playing music or a movie. He took it out for long drives but nothing seemed to work.

He took Mush to the veterinarian again. He asked the doctor to neuter it. He had thought over it and it was the best solution possible. "There will be no way without the will. Once Mush's mind is of that bitch it would get back to me. There are so many things I have to tell him. I have decided to move on and few interviews are already lined up. I have a job offer already and I particularly seem to like the folks there". It all went south after Mush was neutered. Mush grew more irritable and started skipping its meals. K decided to keep the bedroom door locked. Every other day out of frustration he would put Mush in the larger bowl and put the lid over it. He drank till 5 am one of those nights and asked himself the same question. What wrong have I done? He also realized that it was only the second time that he got to alcohol and the first time to marijuana in the last six months. He returned one evening unaware of Mush's plans. As soon as he opened up the door Mush rushed out of it. It had been waiting there all day. K ran after it. Mush was fast but not fast enough. Mush looked around to find a hole or an opening where it could hide himself. Unfortunately, it was out in the wide. K made a big leap and got both hands to it. He bruised his elbows in the process but caught Mush successfully. Mush bit him hard but this time around he maintained his grip. He got back home and pushed it into a bucket.

Not for the first time in his life K felt betrayed. Often its love that makes one hate. More often than not one doesn't realize when the thin line between love and hate is tripped. The last seven months of his life K had spent taking care of Mush. Mush had been the one, the only one with whom he had shared all his feelings. Mush was his best friend, his support system. So he had thought. Despite all the love that he showered Mush had estranged him. It was a dagger right through the center of his heart. Alongside the dagger were millions of needles that pierced every millimeter of his heart. It bled real bad. He was filled with a plethora of bitter emotions. He no longer wanted to live, not for the first time. He no longer wanted to be with Mush.

He came out of the house and got in his car. "Fuck you Mush. Fuck you. You tried to run away from me, from K. Who gave you this life? I did it bastard. I gave you so much. I gave you everything. More than what your mother could have ever. You used me".

He drove to a pharmacy and bought bromadiolone, a rat poison. He didn't know how much was enough so he ended up buying a large bottle. "Now that you have cheated me, what's the point living"?

1 comment:

  1. the part where he sleeps nexts to the mouse is very funny ..why couldnt he get a dog ? well.. to each his own !
    interesting ending.. has K bought the poison for himself or for mush ?! nyc!