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Going Places

“Sleep tight, you morons,” muttered Arjun as he stepped out of his dorm with a bag slung over his back.  The security guard had rung two bells a few minutes back indicating that it was two o’clock in the night.  The guard must have gone to sleep after performing his duty perfunctorily.  This was the best time to run away.

The annual exams were round the corner and Arjun was fully confident that he would fail in spite of all the efforts made by both his teachers and the Board of Education to make him pass by giving him free marks in the name of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.  He wouldn’t score even ten percent in the written exams.

Sreesanth, his hero, was in jail.  Who does not make use of a chance to earn a few lakh rupees more, wondered Arjun.  His father was making lakhs every day. 

Arjun’s father, Nakul Kulapati, was a an MLA of the ruling party.  People came to him offering big packets or briefcases full of money.  Nakul Kulapati gratified their wishes, fulfilled their dreams, and brought delight into their lives.  True, the man had no time to enquire about his son’s studies.  He hardly visited the school.  He never worried about whether his son was passing or failing.  Arjun knew that his father would buy him a seat in a medical college or an engineering college by paying a hefty capitation fee.  Money can buy anything.  His father would have bought him success in his exams too, if he had asked for it. 

But how can his father even come to the school?  Especially after what happened yesterday? 

A woman had gone to court accusing Nakul Kulapati of having raped her.  She had met Nakul in a party and the two became friends.  Like a chemical bonding.  Sodium atoms and chlorine atoms bonded together and were drowned in salty sweat. 

Nakul Kulapati could not fulfil the woman’s dream, however.  She wanted a party ticket in the coming Lok Sabha elections.  Father must have tried his best, Arjun knew.  His father never betrayed his clients.  Anyone who paid him money was his client.  Payment need not always be in cash, he had heard his father say once. 

Party tickets are extremely costly things.  Their prices run into crores.  Chemical bonds don’t cost crores.  Even Sreesanth could not amass crores through spot fixing of matches.  Crores belong in the realm of politics. 

Arjun threw his bag over the wall of the school campus, far away from the main gate.  Then he threw his body over the wall.  He was a good sportsman and the only son of a leading politician.  Walls are no stumbling blocks to him. 

The woman betrayed his father.  That’s what really worried Arjun.  She recorded their bonding and gave the CD to the police as evidence.  And the CD leaked out into the market of sleaze.  His friends got a copy from the underground shopping complex in the city.

Even the son of a politician cannot absorb that kind of ignominy.  Even if he is a sportsman.  Arjun could not focus on his books.  Lurid pictures popped up from the books.  His friends were leering at those pictures. 

Sodium and chlorine atoms bond together to become sodium chloride, he remembered his chemistry lesson.  Sodium chloride has the properties of neither sodium nor chlorine.  It has “emergent properties.”  He remembered his teacher saying that life is about acquiring emergent properties.  Problems in life are manifestations of life asserting itself against the powers of external control. 

Life.  Very curious, thought Arjun.  He had everything that a class 11 student would need.  More than that, of course.  Much more.  Could less have been better?  His father made sure that he never lacked anything which money could buy.  His school gave him marks generously for all that he did and even intended to do, thanks to CCE.  Probably he will even pass the annual exam with a little assistance in the exam hall from liberal invigilators. 

So what was his problem?

He was not sure.  The only thing he was sure of was that the ATM card in his bag could keep him going places.  And he had decided to go places.   

Note: This is work of fiction and the characters are imaginary with one obvious exception.  The story was inspired by what happened to an MLA in Kerala recently.  But the MLA is too old to have a son studying in class 11.


  1. Wow..Really loved reading it...It is very true indeed that usually wealthy people tend to care less about their children as they think money can buy them Happiness...

    1. I'm consoled. At least one comment. It means at least one reader understood what I was trying to convey. Thanks for the consolation :)

  2. When we think, as parents that giving comforts would make us great parents we are wrong. We have to be with them, understand them. I wish his father met him often and talked to him.

    1. Parents pampering children by giving money and too much freedom (due to their own selfish interests) is one theme in the story, Saru. I was also trying to show that the whole society has a problem: there are no heroes.

      I think I should stop writing stories and start preaching :)

  3. Matheikal,

    You are not going to believe this! When I came to this space, the comment space, my comment was going to be and still is, "the story flew over this cuckoo's nest!"

    And your response to the first comment - you are happy someone understood what you wrote!

    Now, you must be happy that someone took the time to write he did not understand :)


    1. Raghuram,

      I'm indeed happy that you bothered to comment on this.

      First of all, let me remind you that I wrote recently about Marcel Proust trying to criticise his own writing and failing (in a blog titled 'Self-criticism). Fiction writing is a complex process. The unconscious is more active than the conscious. The complexities in the writer's mind will turn up in the writing. If you are a psychiatrist you can analyse my writing and find out the psychological traumas I underwent...

      Secondly, there are too many themes I have packed into this story. This is my problem as a writer of fiction. The moment I sit down to write fiction I cease to be me. Somebody else takes over. Who is that somebody? Is it me? Is it NOT me?

      Thirdly, look at the themes of corruption, evil, adolescence, love... too many of them in the story. That's where I fail.

      Fourthly, The starting sentence of this story is taken from J D Salinger's famous novel, 'The Catcher in the Rye', in which a 16-year old student of a residential school runs away saying the same sentence: "Sleep tight ya morons". The rest of the story and everything in it is my making. But the connection means something sacred (?) to me.

      Fifthly, you need not bother about this comment. I know you. I know me.

    2. I will bother myself and you by reacting to your response Matheikal :)

      Who else but I (or, is it "me"?) can get so much out of you simply be raising one's hands? I am really good ;-)


    3. You are not good, Raghuram, you are the best.

      Bother me - I love it when you do.

  4. Hi, good one!! I loved the way the narrative shifts between what the boy is doing and what the boy is thinking.

  5. CCE is such a politician who pampers all the vagabonds who don't even qualify for any sort of education. Even sports is a part of education, provided the students play with ethics and not using their bodily strength and skill alone. Why has CCE forgotten that? Even the sports teachers cannot understand the subtleties of education and an ethic called sportsmanship. How can they evaluate any student. Everybody cannot become Dhyan Chand. Can anybody?

    1. Do teachers mould their values at least to some extent by what they see their bosses doing? In a system which exploits teachers how many teachers will succeed in retaining their virtues?

      What I'm implying is that there's something radically wrong with our societies. The rot lies deep...

    2. That rot is nothing but selfishness. Lack of humane feeling for others. Everything should be for me - attitude. Those who sacrifice or share with others or do justice to their jobs are considered to be fools. It is really difficult to surmount such selfishness. It is a long journey to travel. Unless a spiritual token is there, no one can enter the road to that destination.

  6. "Sodium atoms and chlorine atoms bonded together and were drowned in salty sweat" - Good one.

  7. I am glad to have read a story that reflects utmost brilliance in lacerating politics of the kind of perversion being practised by some politicians. I have also written. a story dealing with the theme of power politics. Your post is really a scathing one!

    1. Thanks, Kajal, for the appreciation. Politics at any time was not edifying. Contemporary politics is at the lowest level on the moral hierarchy.

  8. Wonderful story. I would definitely have loved to see what Arjun did after scaling the wall. Where did he go and how he dealt with the situation? Did the experience touched his outlook somewhere? Can you write another continuing episode of this fiction? Phew...too many questions of mine :)

    1. Thanks for this suggestion, Pankti. In fact, I'm planning a novel set in this school. But due to time constraint, I may have to wait for retirement (or retrenchment) for the novel to materialise. But it keeps growing in reality!


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