I Love You With All My Heart

[Originally posted on KMWN in July 2007]

To say I love you with all my heart
would be an incomplete truth
For I love you also with my bladder and spleen
and each and every tooth.

My liver is a determined lover
and when it’s not making bile
it pines for you all night and day,
yes, it pines all the while.

My intestines, they think of you
and stop their daily digestion
I really wish they didn’t, ’cause
it gives me constipation.

A salty discharge comes from my eyes
When you are not in their view
and at the same time my nose starts running
as if I have the flu.

Of course, it’s true my brain won’t stop
dreaming about you all day
And lower down my genitals
love you in their own special way.

So you see, I love you more than
Karthik or Ram or Murugan,
For while they may love you with their hearts,
I love you with every organ.

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Sanguine Pizza

Across the table, the blue-eyed man would not stop staring.

“Stop staring,” she said, her cheeks turning a crimson hue of green. “You’re always staring at me.”

“I’m not staring,” the blue-eyed man said, “I’m gazing upon the unearthly beauty that sits across the table from me. I am drinking in unadulterated heaven with my eyes. I am downloading visual nectar.”

“Oh, stop,” she said, turning an even crimsoner green. “Since you are a poet, is it not your everyday job to melt women’s and government servants’ hearts ?”

Robra was both a woman and a government servant, and since the blue-eyed man, whose name was Manickchandru,’s poetic expressions were so melting her heart, she was inclined to believe that he was either an expert at melting women’s hearts or melting government servants’ hearts or both.

“Mostly women’s hearts. Only occasionally am I commissioned to write poems to melt government servants’ hearts. Usually when the government feels their servants are getting dissatisfied with their wages and are about to go on strike, they commission me to write a poem that melts government servants’ hearts.”

Robra thought about it, and realised that she had never received a raise in her ten years of government servanture. Every time she and her colleagues thought about asking their bosses for a raise, they would get a red envelope instead, that contained a poem that invariably melted her and her colleagues’ hearts.

“But this one is not like one of those poems, Robra, this is from the bowels of my heart, from the depths of my aorta, from the core of my superior vena cava,” he said, leaning forward and gazing at her with those deep blue eyes. Robra loved his eyes. She would have drowned in them, were it not for the fact that she was a state-level champion swimmer.

“The poems I write during the day,” said Manickchandru, “I write for money. Those poems are not truly inspired. It is when I see you that I feel true inspiration, the kind that poets spend their entire lifetimes looking for.”

Robra’s cheeks went from crimson-green to a bright scarlet-green. Yet, while she found Manickchandru quite charming, she was not sure how much she could trust his words. He was, after all, a master wordsmith, who could twist and turn words into shapes never dreamt of before, and she was sure he had caused many a girl to swoon with his poems. Was she just another one of those girls? Would she be just another feather in his cap? She did not want to be one of Manickchandru’s conquests. She wanted to know if what he said he felt for her was true or fallacious. But how could she know for sure?

He attempted to reach across the table and hold her hands, but she had cleverly guarded herself from such a move by strewing knives and forks strategically on the table, causing Manickchandru to injure himself every time he attempted to reach across the table and hold her hands. It was a trick she learnt from her friend Tanku. Manickchandru grazed his elbows and was unable to reach across fully.

The knives and forks were for Robra’s own protection, but at that moment she was ready to dismantle that elaborate line of defence. She wanted quite badly to reach across and hold Manickchandru’s hands, but on her right palm she had written down a reminder with a black marker that said “Robra, control thyself” that reminded her to control herself.

Then, across the table, the blue-eyed man would not stop scribbling. He seemed to be furiously attacking a tissue with a pen, unmindful of the fresh cuts and bruises on his arm

“What are you doing?” Robra asked.

“Inspiration waits for no one. When it comes, it must be captured,” said Manickchandru, capturing inspiration.

Robra waved her hand in the air wildly, and the waitress approached the table. She wore a clean yellow apron covered in grime and pizza toppings, and dried sarcasm stained her red sleeves. Her hair was tied in an pizzalike fashion, reminding diners that she was a waitress in a pizza restaurant, not one in, say, a Tandoori or Chinese one. She had an air of pessimistic nonchalance and optimistic carefreedom about her.

“Welcome to Sanguine Pizza,” she said, giving Robra and Manickchandru a dentist-chair grin. “May I take the lovers’ order?”

“Oh, uh…” Robra turned a lemon-red green and looked nervously at Manickchandru who seemed to be so focussed on what he was writing that he hadn’t noticed the waitress’s presence. “We’re not lovers, really…” she said, “…more like likers. Strong likers, perhaps.”
And that was when Manickchandru looked up, alarmed. But Robra did not catch this reaction, because she had turned to the waitress to order her order.

“I think we’ll have one large Sanguineous Pizza… is that okay, Manickchandru?”

When she turned to face Manickchandru, she noticed a fairly shocked expression of curious unease on Manickchandru’s face, like he had been slapped when he was least expecting it, by someone he least expected to be slapped by.

“Manickchandru? Is that okay?” Robra repeated, “Are you okay?”

Manickchandru said nothing.

Hesitantly, Robra, turning to the waitress while keeping her eyes on Manickchandru, said,

“Just get us the Sanguineous Pizza for now.”

The waitress nodded and left, swishing her apron and leaving a trail of toppings behind her.

“What’s the matter, Manickchandru?” Robra asked.

“You said we weren’t lovers. Don’t you love me, Robra?”

This was a difficult question for Robra to answer. She had been asking herself that very question. She did like Manickchandru a fairly reasonable amount, perhaps even more than that – but was it love? She did not know. She had never been in love before – or maybe she had, but was never sure if it was love. They had never explained this ‘love’ to Robra in medical school. True, she had never been to medical school, but that was besides the point. Then she remembered something her friend Tanku had taught her about getting out of conversational corners like the one she had been backed into.

“I don’t know, Manickchandru, do you love me?”

“Of course I do! I love you as much as I possibly can!” he said exclamatorily.

Robra blinked. She had expected Tanku’s strategy to work differently. Then she remembered something else Tanku had said to her: “The best way to get out of a tight spot in a conversation or an argument is to make the other person define their terms. Then attack the definitions.”

“What do you mean by love?” she asked.

“Love cannot be defined. It must be felt.”

Robra had a feeling this conversation was going downhill, meaning it was getting worse. Although one could also say it was going uphill, because that means it was getting more difficult.

“I definitely feel something for you, but I don’t know if that’s love, Manickchandru.”

Manickchandru grunted in frustration and slammed his fists on the table, causing the forks and knives to jump into the air. One knife sailed through the air, its deadly edge thirsty for blood or food. Luckily for it, the waitress was coming out of the kitchen, carrying the Sanguineous Pizza Robra had ordered.

Ah, today is my lucky day! thought the knife, here is someone who possesses both blood and food!

The knife dived into the Sanguineous Pizza, bounced off it, and into the waitress’s eye, who did not like having knives in her eyes, or even a single knife in one of her eyes. She flailed wildly, making quite a mess of pizza toppings and blood. She let out a bloodcurdling scream that distracted Manickchandru and Robra from their uneasy discussion on feelings. When they saw what had happened to the waitress, they stared in helpless horror, horrified by the horrific horrendousness of the situation. As they stared, a single drop of blood from the waitress’s eye flew through the air. Manickchandru and Robra followed the flight of the drop with their eyes as it gracefully – although not so gracefully that it negated the horror of the moment – floated through the air like a miniature trapeze artist who looked like a drop of blood, and landed on Robra’s spectacles, which she happened to be wearing at the time.
Manickchandru watched as Robra took off her glasses and wiped them on the edge of her shirt. She put her glasses on again, and looked at Manickchandru.

His expression of horror became even horrificer. He began shaking violently and large blisters began to erupt from his skin. His eyes bulged and his ears flapped unnaturally. A stream of steam issued from his nostrils.

And then he exploded in a massive mess of flesh and blood and bone and brains. That was, after all, what he was made of.

Robra picked up a tissue from the table and, taking off her glasses, proceeded to wipe the exploded Manickchandru off her face, when she noticed something on the tissue. She put on her glasses to see what it was. She realised that it was the piece of tissue that Manickchandru had been scribbling so furiously on. It seemed to be a poem that he had been writing. She began to read:

My Dear Robra,
You beautiful, slithering cobra,
What strongish love I have for thee,
We go together
like crop and farmer
Me and you and you and me.

Every time I
See your brown eye(s)
Naked, not hidden behind glass,
My love it increases
like incurable diseases
Growing in both volume and mass

My Dear Robra
You smooth, slender cobra
Descended from the angels’ abode,
I think you should know
If my love for you grow(s)
I will overload with love and explode.

Robra shivered and quivered. Finally she understood the meaning of love. Alas, it was too late. The man she now knew she loved lay scattered in fragments of organs and tissue. Robra, never one to miss a pun, realised that she was holding one of his tissues in her hands!
Overwhelmed with emotion, she burst into tears, and sobbed uncontrollably into Manickchandru’s final poem, unmindful of the fact that by doing so she would ruin the poem, and the fact that she would get ink all over her face.

Malaise Burger

Across the table, the green-eyed man would not stop fidgeting.

“Stop fidgeting,” she said, throwing him the same silver-hot glare that she was using to heat her plate.

“I’m not fidgeting,” the green-eyed man said, “I’m tying knots.”

But it was evident to her that he was doing much more than tying knots. Sure, he was tying knots, but he was doing much more. For example, he was fidgeting. He simply would not stop. He fidgeted with everything – the pieces of string that he had ordered in order to tie them into knots, the pieces of string that had already been tied up into knots, his hair, the pages of the Motorcycle Magazine he had so carefully chosen a few minutes ago from the motorcycle stand outside Malaise Burger. As if that much fidgeting wasn’t enough, he was now leaning across the table and fidgeting with her hair and her clothes. It was entirely inappropriate, she thought. And to think she thought she loved him.

“I said stop fidgeting, I’m trying to heat my plate,” she said again, and more sternly.
The green-eyed man withdrew his hands, sliding them back across the table, bruising his arms on the forks and knives strewn across the table. She liked to have a lot of forks and knives on the table for protection. They were not so much strewn as strategically arranged to protect her. Unfortunately apparently evidently they were not enough protection from the fidgety green-eyed man.

“You’ve got my hair in knots,” she said, with an air of consternation.

He didn’t reply. He was busy fidgeting with himself.

“What’s your name?” she asked, as she tried to take the knots out of her hair.
“Suraj,” the green-eyed man said, looking at her shiftily with his shifty eyes. He mustered some courage and asked, “What’s yours?”

The waitress arrived before she could reply.

“Can I take your order?” she asked, and spat a wad of chewing gum at Suraj’s face.
She (the woman with the silvery hot glare) already didn’t like this waitress. Her apron was covered in what seemed to be a carefully blended mix of blood, sweat, grime, and animal faeces. Besides, the waitress had just spat chewing gum at the man she thought was her newfound love, and that was not a very polite thing to do. The waitress had eyes of steel, like the ones they made in the factories, except they were all-natural.

“My name is Tanku,” she said to Suraj.

“That’s – that’s a lovely name,” Suraj said.

“Frankly, I hate it. You won’t believe how embarrassing it is to respond reflexively to people calling out to you with ‘you’re welcome'”

“I think it’s lovely.”

The waitress cleared her throat loudly and conspicuously, as if she were trying to draw attention to herself. Tanku could have killed her. What did this woman want with her new man?

“Are you going to order?”

“I – I’ll have the Malaise Burger,” Suraj stammered, his hands now fidgeting with each other.

“I’ll have the Malodorous Fries,” Tanku said, blistering under her breath.

“You mean the Marodolous Flies,” said the waitress, and grinned, revealing a row of yellow teeth, and a row of brown and black teeth below those, that smelled of rotting gums.

“Yes, that,” Tanku said, and in one swift motion, swept the forks and knives off the table in the direction of the waitress. The waitress, experienced as she was, dodged all of the knives, and all but one of the forks, which stuck in her neck and caused her to issue forth in a very masculine voice, “Is that all?”

Suraj nodded, and Tanku nodded, and the waitress left.

“So what do you do, Suraj?” Tanku asked her new prospective lover.

“I run a business,” he said. Now that the forks and knives were off the table, he was fidgeting with her again.

Tanku grappled with his hands, trying to keep them away. “That’s nice,” she said. “What kind of business? You run a chain of Xerox shops, don’t you? I just know it.”

“That’s what most people think, but – but I actually have a company called Suraj Knots.”

“Oh. So what kind of a company is that?” she asked, still trying to keep his hands off. She would be fine with such behaviour in private, and after they had gotten to know each other a little better.

“We tie knots for people who need knots, and untie them for people who need knots untied. You’ll be surprised how lucrative it is. We charge around 300 rupees for tying the smallest knot.”

Suddenly Tanku welled up with emotion. Her throat welled up with choking and her eyes welled up with tears. Her glass welled up with water, but that was because the waitress had returned and was filling the glass. Her heart welled up with love and her brain welled up with affection, while her ovaries welled up with lust.

All this time she had been pushing this man’s hands away, thinking they were just fidgeting. She ran her hands through her hair and felt the hundreds of knots he had made in them. She ran her hands through her clothes and felt the hundreds of knots he had made in them. Each knot worth at least 300 rupees! And he had done it for free.

“So sweet,” she told him. He was definitely marriage material now.A door flew open and a plate flew out of the door, landed on the table, slid across it, and almost fell off the table, but it didn’t.

“That’s your Malaise Burger,” the waitress said, still in a masculine voice, but when she looked at Tanku, there was the feminine throb of joint sisterhood and female understanding. The waitress could see Tanku may be falling in love with this green-eyed, fidgety man.

Deepak and His Marvelous Time-Traveling Shoes (That Do Not Work)

(Originally posted on KMWN in December 2009)

“No,” said Deepak, “I do not want regular shoes. I want special.”

The bewildered salesman scratched his head in ponderment.

“What is this special special?” he asked. “I’ve shown you the most expensive shoe we have. More special than this is not there.”

Deepak was sad.

“But I want special shoes!” he cried.

The salesman went and got his manager and came.

“This boy wants special shoes,” he said, holding up a pair of red-and-green shoes with in-built wheels and laser guns and an mp3 player. “But our shoes don’t get more special than these, and he wants something more special (than these).”

“Boy,” said the manager, looking down the length of his long nose (at Deepak (who was the boy)), “you want more special shoes than these?”

“Yes,” said Deepak. He wanted shoes that were more special than those.

“But these shoes have an mp3 player,” argued the manager, “in each shoe. You can hear to two songs simultaneously, and enjoy like anything!”

The manager pointed to the shoes and slurped and smacked his lips for effect.

“What is so special about mp3 players? Just because there are two does not make it special. A regular ball-point pen is not special. Does having two of them make it special, I ask.”

The manager scratched his chin and nodded in agreement. “The boy speaks the truth, as if he has become old with age and is speaking with the wisdom that he has got from that.”

“Yes,” said the salesman, “I agree wholeheartedly. If there is one thing special in this shoe shop it is this wise boy.”

“No,” said the manager. “I mean, yes, the boy is special, but there is one other thing that is special in this shoe shop. Rather, there are two other things. Rather, there is one pair of special things. Rather, there is one special pair of things.”

“Is that a pair of shoes you are talking about?” asked Deepak, his eyes widening in hopefulness.

“Yes,” said the manager. “But first, I will have to see if you are worthy. I know that you are wise, you have already proven that you are so. But are you brave? And kind? And capable of drinking 8 litres of bananas?”

“Bananas are solid,” said Deepak, “They cannot be drunk.”

“Well then what do you call a banana that’s had too much alcohol?” asked the salesman, and laughed uproariously at his own joke.

But the manager did not laugh. He was as serious as hell.

“You have passed the first test,” said the manager, “simply by pointing out that bananas are solid. You have now shown that you are wise.”

“But I thought you said I had already proven that I am wise,” asked the ever-observant Deepak.

“Ah, for noticing that, I now know that you are truly wise.”

“And prior to this I was falsely wise?”

“Listen, boy! What is your name?”

“Deepak,” said Deepak, stating his name.

“Listen, Deepak! If you go on asking troublesome questions I cannot sell you the shoes.”

“Alright, fine, I’m sorry. I won’t ask any more questions.”

“Alas!” exclaimed the manager, his hands being thrown up in the air by him. “This was also a test, and to succeed you would have had to show that your inquisitive spirit could not be quelled. Unfortunately, it has, and therefore you have failed the test. Therefore, you cannot get the shoes. Which are special.”

“Listen,” Deepak exclaimed! “How many of these tests are there? I am a school boy and therefore subject to several tests a day. Already today I have taken five. One maths, one physics, one jokology, one economics, and one which you just now passed me through. I am exhausted of tests. Are you going to sell me the shoes or not?”

The manager looked happy.

“See?” he told the salesman, seeing Deepak.

“Yes,” said the salesman.

“I wasn’t finished. See? The boy is still asking questions. His inquisitive spirit has not been quelled after all. Go fetch the secret box from the secret room.”

The salesman’s jaw dropped. Then he picked it up and went to the secret room and fetched the secret box.

The secret box was roughly the size of a shoebox, and one would have thought it contained a pair of shoes, if the box were not stamped with the letters SECRET in bright red letters all over.

“What I am about to show you,” the manager said, “is extremely secret.”

“Even I have not seen what is inside the box,” exclaimed the salesman!

Slowly, the manager pried the secret lid off the secret box. Inside there was a pair of brown shoes, made of what seemed to be regular shoe material.

“These might seem to be the most regular shoes in the world,” said the manager, but these are actually the most special shoes in the world. At least they are the most special shoes in the world that we can sell you.”

“They seem to be regular,” said Deepak.

“That’s what I said, no, they seem regular, but in reality they are not at all regular. I mean, they are regular in the sense that you can wear them much like regular shoes, and they perform the function of regular shoes reasonably well, but there is an element of specialty to them that you will find in no other shoes.”

“What makes them special?” asked Deepak.

“I am glad you asked me that,” said the manager, “because I was just about to tell you. Now, when I tell you this, nobody will know the secret of these shoes except for the three of us. Even the maker of the shoes does not know their secret.”

“Why is that?” asked Deepak and the salesman in unison.

“Because the shoemaker is dead. He was killed by elves. Anyway, here is the secret of these shoes. They are marvellous, time-travelling shoes.”

“What?” asked Deepak.

“These shoes, when worn, enable the wearer to travel through the dimension of time!”

The salesman’s jaw dropped.

“How much do they cost?” asked Deepak, who, being as wise as he was, knew that time travel could not come cheaply.

“Obviously there can be no price tag attached to these shoes. They are priceless. But since you passed my tests and showed yourself to be worthy, I am giving them to you at a discounted price of Rs. 3,000/- only,” said the manager.

“Considering the original price was priceless, it is quite a huge discount,” said the salesman.

“Indeed,” said the manager. “The only condition to this discount is that you cannot tell anyone the secret of these shoes. Nobody will know about their time-travelling capabilities except you and me.”

“What about him?” Deepak asked, referring to the salesman.

The manager then killed the salesman with a shoe.

“Who?” asked the manager.

So Deepak paid the manager three thousand rupees and walked away from the store as the proud owner of a new pair of time-travelling shoes.

At home, Deepak tried on his new shoes. They were a perfect fit, quite comfortable, and now that he thought about it, really quite good-looking, too. He wondered if they only appeared good-looking to him because he knew that they were secretly time-travelling shoes as well, but when his father saw the shoes and said how good they looked, Deepak knew they really were good-looking.

But they did not work.

At least, Deepak could not figure out how to make them work. The secret box contained no instructions on how to use the time-travel feature of the shoes, and no matter what Deepak tried, he could not get them to time travel. He resolved to go back to the shop the next morning and ask the manager how to use them.

But the next morning, the shop was gone. It simply vanished. Rather, it had shut down, and in its place was a unisex beauty salon called Byoodafal, as its big board announced in giant purple letters, alongside a picture of an androgynous man or woman.

“What happened to the shoe shop?” asked Deepak to the receptionist at the beauty salon.

“What shoe shop? Go away, this salon is not for boys. It is for unisex,” said the receptionist and shooed Deepak out of the store.

Deepak was sad. He had a pair of marvellous time-travelling shoes that did not work. Rather, he could not figure out how to make them work.

For years, three years to be precise, Deepak tried to make his time-travelling shoes work, and never took them off, even while bathing, because he feared that the shoes might suddenly decide to time travel and leave him behind. He also searched everywhere for the manager of the shoe store, but to no avail.

Except, one day, exactly three years after that fateful day in the shoe store, Deepak saw a man walking down the street who looked remarkably like

“Shoe store manager,” Deepak yelled!

The man on the street stopped in his tracks and turned to Deepak. There was a spark of recognition in his eyes. The manager had not forgotten his very last customer.

“Hello, Deepak,” said the manager.

Deepak went up to the manager, grabbed him by his collar, and shook him violently.

“For three years I have been looking everywhere for you. These marvellous time-travelling shoes you sold me do not work! At least, I have not figured out how to make them work.”

“What year is it?” asked the manager, who suddenly looked very puzzled.

“It is 2009,” said Deepak.

“Are you serious?!” the manager said incredulously. “But I sold you those shoes in 2006!”

“Yes you did. So?”

“Don’t you realise, Deepak, you have been using the shoes correctly all along! Have you not travelled through time since that fateful day in the shoe store? Have you not travelled three years into the future in those very shoes?!”

Deepak realised that he had been using the time travel feature of the shoes all along. He had thought that his marvellous time-travelling shoes did not work, but they had in fact, been working continuously since that fateful day in the shoe store.

For the first time in three years, Deepak felt something akin to happiness.