Author: Christopher Anand
We were a gigantic group of fifteen. The city bored us to death. A couple of ours had already killed themselves. For a different reason. They were twins and they used twine to hang themselves. I remember thinking twice, twins use twine to die.
With those two deaths, our group of fifteen was greatly depleted. Only thirteen of us were left. A few were right handed though. I thought the deaths augured well for us. Thirteen was after all such a lucky number. To fight the boredom, we decided the city was no place for us. We decided to leave it for good, only for a day.
We went on a trip to a nearby hill station. Words can describe how beautiful the place was. But what demands description was the journey. I rode pillion on one of the guys’ backs. There was also his bike that came below us.
My journey on his back was uneventful but while I was riding pillion, I pitied the million rotations the bike took for its journey. It had an MR.F tire for its front and a wooden wheel for its back. While the MR.F made a million haughty revolutions, the spokes of the wheel tailed while they toiled. I know this because the spokes spoke to me.
A million revolutions on pillion later, we joined the rest of the group.
We were greeted by one Mr. Bernard Shaw. He was the proud owner of an auto rickshaw. At first, he wouldn’t show us around. He was greatly peeved to have been brought out of his lordly slumber by a bunch of thirteen bored men. He had been dead in his slumber for years and finally relented to show us the place after we told him the truth.
That he had been posthumously ordained and that a breed of handsome dogs was now named after his saintly personage. So happy was he that he brought out a set of plastic playing cards and proclaimed that we should play. Since there were only thirteen of us, it was obvious that we would play thirteen cards.
We all squatted. The game was simple enough. Each one takes a card and rests his back on a rock. The rocks have absolutely no significance in the game. Once the cards have been picked, each of the players must talk with his card. The one who has the longest conversation loses, for who really has the time to talk to cards anymore?
What is this life so full of care?
We have not to time to squat and stare.
I picked up my card. It was the Queen herself. She was looking sideways averting my gaze. There were two views of her on the card. Top left and bottom right. I fell in love with the bottom right pose.
As is the case with people in love with people on cards, I was hopelessly tongue-tied and couldn’t muster courage to have a conversation. I won the first round thus, quite comfortably, by having the shortest conversation. In the next round, I got the Queen again. But this time she wasn’t the same. Knowing fully well this could mean losing this round of our hard-fought game, I asked her, “I love you, but you have changed. Why are you different?”
“I have many forms, she said. I’m in the sixth form, Grammar School, the one you fell in love with is still in the fourth form.”
I was dejected. I had lost in love, but more importantly in that round of cards. The hopeless romantic that I was, I never thought of the Queen ever again, the one that I loved dearly.