Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An Ordinary Life 5 - Davidraj

Davidraj cursed under his breath in Tamil. The drawer he had jerked open with such fury had crashed to the ground and nicked his foot as it fell. "Che! What kind of a place is this? Nothing ever works properly. All rotten on top!" he ranted for the twentieth time that day.
Irritated, he put his hand on the bell on his desk to summon Arokiyamani. At the end of its tether, the bell croaked a hoarse metallic cough. Davidraj flung the bell from his desk, exasperatedly. It flew up in a graceful curve and landed at the feet of Arokiamani, dozing on his stool outside the room, waking him up. He jumped onto his feet, picked up the bell and rushed into the room, "Saar, I found your bell at my feet, saar," he said, scratching his hair.
"I threw it at you, imbecile. Now, get here and put this rotten drawer back in its place." Arokiamani ducked under the table. His ears twitching with fury, Davidraj moved out of the room and lit up a cigarette. Inhaling deeply, he let the smoke burn his lungs and then let it out in stuttering puffs...

* * *

The only reason he had put up with years of signing over the dotted line authorising the purchase of several tonnes of chlorine tablets and bleaching powder was the rat at the end of the rainbow.
He had begun, like most boys his age do, with a healthy fancy for rodents, lizards and spiders. Only, unlike most other boys, Davidraj was never to grow out of this. As he grew, his fancy quickly shifted into an unhealthy obsession for Rattus rattus, what the rest of us know as the common rat.
More slowly, the powers that be shifted gears to put Davidraj in the driver's seat of the Vector Control Department in the Municipal Corporation.
So slowly, it took twenty five years and a plague.
Though others took the credit, every rat hole in the city knew it was Davidraj that did the trick. It was magical, almost like the Pied Piper, the way the city's Chief Vector Control Officer seemed to speak the rats into dying or maybe, just going away. The newspapermen came from all over, masks round their mouths, stepping gingerly over dead rats on the roads, following Davidraj in his battered Mahindra jeep, chronicling, attesting his achievement.
After this, there was no question that the usually nepotistic behemoth had finally found the right man for the job.

* * *

Letting out smoke in interuppted puffs, Davidraj crouched over the railing. Things were going from bad to worse. After all, he had dedicated his life to his work. One would think the powers that be would have more appreciation for his work. He could not fathom why they were not bowing in front of him, pledging their gratitude to their pied piper.
After every encounter with an ingrate higher-up, Davidraj felt worse. In anger his face and ears twiched madly. Like they did today, after a rather foul encounter with the health officer. "Enough!" he muttered to himself.

* * *
His colleagues did not really notice the changes. The file pushers were not really an observant bunch. They did not see it begin with the twitches, primarily of the nose. But it soon grew, like bacteria on a culture plate. Facial twitches came next, the imperceptible darts of the head, the nibbling, the crouch and eventually, the sniffing. Over a period of time his voice changed to staccato squeaks, short sentences rapidly delivered by a man in a hurry, his gait a scramble around the edges of rooms. It seemed his skin was turning from the usual bronze brown to a black grey and his luxuriant moustache dwindled down to a few whiskers. But they dint notice a thing.

* * *

Not a thing. Until the day they found him crouching, shaking, his whiskers quivering, in a hole hollowed out in his bedroom, hiding from the neighbourhood cat.

I began writing this in the sunset of last year! And kept writing in fits and starts, not quite satisfied with the way it was shaping up.
Thanks Hari, for that final SMS push to get this thing wrapped up. I still cannot decide if I'm happy with this story or not, but at least it is a story now. :)



Blogger hari said...

Hi Ramya,

Me first, have I done justice to that selfless dedication!!!!

Anyways you sure would have taken a long time finishing that story. Life seems very very harsh out there.

6:33 pm

Blogger None said...


of course, you must be the first to comment! :) harsh life, eh? sometimes it is difficult to paint an accurate picture of a different reality. we can only imagine it... but have to do so convincingly...


8:02 pm

Blogger hari said...

Hi Ramya,

True. And you have brought out the feelings pretty well, I am able to appreciate it better now putting myself in that position.

8:51 pm

Blogger Mahadevan said...

You have convincingly portrayed a different reality. I felt, as if I was reading "Metamorphosis".

11:41 am

Blogger shakunthalai said...

Superb!Good ending.
I was suddenly reminded of satanic verses, in which a man turns into a goat. Completely different psychology underlying the transformation, though.

2:41 am

Blogger None said...


I was wondering when that comment would come up! :) i read kafka's metamorphosis about 10 years ago and have been fascinated by the concept. more recently, i watched a french movie, le festin de la mante, in which the female lead moults into a praying mantis. and on the lighter side, a movie, whiskers, when a cat turns into the human.
watching these movies (quite by accident) was also a sign that i perhaps should complete what i had started off with, or it would metamorphose into quite something else! :)
phew! that's longer than the story - nearly! guess i'm also trying t explain things for myself!


2:13 pm

Blogger None said...


ah, yes! i had nearly forgotten about rushie's goat transformation. prolly cos i'm totally out of league! :) but thanks for reminding me about that and reading!!


2:19 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe you're another Dahl in the making!
PS - very interesting story, and superb finale!

11:52 pm

Blogger None said...


hey! dahl's yeah. i figured out that later. but i wonder... i do have the macabre stab in me, don't i? :)


1:01 pm

Anonymous Ravi said...

Drat! Am late here but what a beauty of a story! Fantastic! More, please!

12:52 pm

Blogger None said...

ravi thambi,

do you really think so? well, i'm glad, cos i'm still undecided about it. reminds too many people about too many things...
btw, what does N stand for?


6:53 pm

Blogger The Talkative Man said...

huh, i was expecting a realistic one. You made it a horror movie.

7:46 am

Blogger None said...


:) life is full of unexpected twists and turns...


1:12 pm

Blogger Mahadevan said...


Please continue to write more ordinary lives. We, lesser mortals, are longing to read them.

2:22 pm

Blogger None said...


well, thanks! let's hope i can...:)


4:38 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this one was a let down


10:24 pm


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