When You’re NOT Computer Indian

Today I’d like to share with you a small narrative piece I wrote, which I’m sure will strike a chord with every creative in India. I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to give me your feedback in the comments:

When You’re NOT Computer Indian

There were no stars.

She didn’t like it when there weren’t any stars. Of course, it was the city and like all cities it was polluted, and she knew that she shouldn’t expect to see any stars, but still, she didn’t like it.

There was a moon though, pale and a diffused yellow like an incandescent light bulb suspended by an unseen string in the deep blue tapestry of the sky. It was low, it’s shimmering halo just above the line of hills that lined the horizon. For all the city lights that left no corner unlit and dazzled every cockroach and mouse crouching in every pitch – dark hole, they could not illuminate the hills. But she knew they were there.

She was barefoot, with her feet hanging over the edge. She waggled her toes, a tingle running up her feet when they touched nothing but cold night air. She was sitting atop the concrete water storage structure on the terrace of her building, with her feet hanging over the edge. If she was even slightly pushed; if she nodded off to sleep; if she so much as sneezed too violently, she’d go over.

She’d fall 140 feet down, past the Nairs’ balcony where Mr. Nair would be sipping cheap whiskey while his wife reminded him of all the medical conditions he had. She would fall past Tulika’s living room and she would hear her metal music blasting through the open window and her singing along off tune, and she would try to guess the song but she would have no time, because she’d be falling too fast. She’d fall past the D’Souzas’ bedroom, and she would hear them praying, for good health and happiness and wealth and anything else they could think of, and she would promise herself that’s she’d put in a good word for them when she met their merciful God. Then she’d fall past her own window, and her parents would be arguing in the kitchen about why the laundry man wasn’t back with the white shirts yet, or watching an old comedy, and she would see them and smile. She would smile and then close her eyes because she would want that image to be the last thing she saw.

And then there’d be a jolt and a crack and then some pain, but then everything she’d ever known would disappear, and she’d go to sleep. She would smile, she decided. In those last few seconds before the world went dark she would smile. She would smile as the moon and the sky filled her sight and she would smile because there were no stars, and it was not fair.

Wow, now that’s some morbid thinking, she chuckled to herself.

She penned down all these thoughts in her little black book, muttering about how it would be great background for her character. Satisfied with her notes, she tucked it away into her jacket, safe and close to her heart, as it should be. Then she turned her attention to the hulking textbook by her side: JEE – MAIN Preparatory Handbook.

There’s no money in writing, you know?

Engineering guarantees you a job.

This brooding hipster nonsense has to stop someday.

She sighed softly. Her literary talent, which her teacher was convinced was bordering on prodigal, was being written off as brooding hipster nonsense by a mind of gears and metal.

Taking arts in college? That’s…. embarrassing.

Don’t tell people! It’s so humiliating!

Her laugh was hollow, and it rang like an ominous bell. She didn’t wear tight black leather and get tattoos without telling her parents. She didn’t smoke or drink or get in fights. She just wanted to write, and for no better reason than that, she was branded as an anomaly.

An error in the population.

A misfit.

But she liked to think of herself in much grander light.

Rebel with a cause.

She got up and shouldered her neatly packed knapsack. She slipped into her shoes, and looked at the dreaded book one last time.

Ten minutes later, she was walking out of the building, staring straight ahead and unwavering.

“Hey Maya!” She stopped, hearing Amit uncle’s voice.

“Where are you going so late?” he asked, concerned.

Anyone else she would have ignored. But not the librarian who helped her find her dream.

Maya turned, and spoke, “I’m shedding the yoke of my oppressors.”

He nodded. Something told her he understood.

“Where will you go?”

Maya chuckled, and looked up at the sky.

“Preferably, somewhere where there’s stars.”


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