I've just joined and I know nobody here. Thought to start with an idea for writers.
For long, I'd been fascinated by the idea of writing fiction from news. I use my blog JoshCafe.com to explore such possibilities. Last week, when New Delhi got its worst recent shock, when five bombs exploded in its crowded markets. I came across this news piece that passingly mentioned about a man named Moolchand. He had inadvertently taken the first bomber to Gaffar Market where the bomb went off.
Just before the explosion, the auto driver, Moolchand, had walked out of his auto, bickering with a poor rickshaw puller. I tried to build up on that moment and went into Moolchand's life. Everything is imagined, of course. I can't still call it a short story. I think it still stays at the level of a journal entry.
Here's it for you, anyway:
MOOLCHAND’S MOMENT } He had on mind some worries on that day’s collection. Barely enough, he thought before he had seen a tall, young man waving to stop.
‘Bhaisaheb, Patel Nagar chaloge? Mere ko Gaffar Market main dus minute ka kaam hai. Main tumhe halting charges bhi doonga.’ (Will you go to Patel Nagar? I have to stop at Gaffar Market for 10 minutes. I will pay you the halting charges). The fair young chap looked close to six-foot and sported a light beard. He seemed to be in his mid twenties.
Moolchand glanced at his watch : 5.30 pm.
Through the tame evening, Moolchand saw the motion of plush cars around the Imperial Hotel. In the passenger mirror he saw that the young man had settled with a bag in the back seat. And the auto rickshaw moved..
‘Saturdays!’, Moolchand thought. He had to swerve through swarming men and women rushing, always rushing, brushing on each other and not remembering anyone in particular, sloshed in colour and their own winged desires for all things to be bought this evening: sari, sandals, crafts, school bags, pulses, potatoes, imitation jewellery, ladoos. Even thongs. Moolchand had a smile then.
But he hated these beetles, these men cycling the rickshaws that always flung themselves onto his path. ‘Morons!’ Why can’t these pigs go somewhere else and sway their butts on their stupid rickshaws! There comes another one. Moolchand honked loud and a few words flew from him which got glued as spittle on that rickshaw-wallah. That man nodded to cycle away, around the auto, not to rattle the driver again. ‘Meek fools!’, he thought of them.
His auto now cut into Ajmal Khan Road, through the mass of moving mindless ones haggling for cheap cameras and phones. Smuggled ones. Phony ones. ‘Phony people!’ he winced. Honk! Fools!
He sneaked a look at the young man and muttered: Ghaffar Market. Moolchand saw the young man leaving behind a black bag. ‘Please, I’ll be back in a minute,’ he moved away. Moolchand pushed the auto to park it by the side of the road. And there comes another rickshaw crossing his path. An old idiot with such frail looks! Moolchand parked where he could and rushed out to finish it off with the man. The rage of the day had to be flung out on this silly fool who had his old rusting rickshaw looking as silly as his face. In the corner of the eye, Moolchand caught his passenger (his black cap moving through the stream of heads; did it turn back to glance at me for once, that unshaven face?) and turned back with his fury at the rickshaw man. The old one smiled back at Moolchand, his wrinkled face cringing at Moolchand’s rage. And farther they moved to the shade to carry on.
Around those two, the world had been going on. Buying, sneaking through, selling, bargaining, stopping to pull the kids together, a mass of voices and noises that went tangling into each other and balling up into the loudness that erupted in the next moment. Boom!
Moolchand’s autoricksaw is now up in the air. It’s steel and bolts and iron, all reddened and blackened, ripped and strewn off in the next moment, everything a ball of fire that spits its own flames and ashes everywhere. Moolchand, the 40-year-old had got flown off a few yards, ripped off from his rage, from his enemy, the rickshaw-wallah, who now lay fallen on his knees away from him. Moolchand is now slowly raising his head, too heavy, from the ground. White noise. Black smoke. Smell of burnt flesh. Pieces of arms or faces. His own face, arms and legs coloured with red cuts. He is dunk in a splitting sting. His head still booming from the thud.
Through the shapeless holes of the smoke, Moolchand can see the bodies. He can’t count. He’s just thinking of the noise. He’s now taking his time to unwind the moment before. It will dawn on him a few moments later how the black bag left behind by the tall, young passenger had changed the way he had looked at the world.
He’d soon enough see the rickshaw-wallah, the old man with wrinkles and a meek smile, now standing up through this evening of white light, towering over him. Over any anger he had for him. The man who he had despised as the enemy, now giving him a teary smile, the two of them now too dazed to thank the moment they had moved away from the black bag, to quarrel.
They now stand staring at each other in silence.