Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Contract (Part One)

Krish (Krishna Moorthy) felt like he was in some sort of an elaborate hoax. Although he was no celebrity, he kept waiting for the Punked crew to come out and end this far from funny practical joke. Krish vehemently despised sadistic sense of humor where the punch lines hit him below the belt. What was with all the blatantly rude remarks followed by a token ‘just kidding’? Krish always retorted with, “No offense, but you are an asshole”. He hoped that someday those jokers would see the irony.

Here he was, standing in front of a committee of 10 individuals. The committee’s casual clothes and demeanor made the matter at hand seem more trivial than it was made out to be. In contrast the man sitting besides Krish was an impeccably dressed lawyer, waiting solemnly as if a million dollar deal was about to transpire.

The proceedings began. The committee spoke in short crisp sentences which were always precise and to the point. Krish thought that it was peculiar that there wasn’t a piece of paper or a computer or any sort of documenting device on the committee’s table. The lawyer had meanwhile started setting up his laptop beside Krish. The committee began looking at their table tops intently. After a couple of minutes of silence Krish nudged the lawyer.

K (Krish): Are they having a staring contest with the table?
L (Lawyer): They have touch screens embedded in the table. They are reviewing your file.
K: Ooh fancy.
C (Committee): Tell us why we should renew the contract?

Everybody stares intently at K.

K: I am sorry…what?

Committee members now turn their attention to the lawyer.

L (turns to K): Were you not briefed about the contract?
K: What contract?

Lawyer looks exasperated and turns to the committee.

L: May I approach the committee with a request.

The committee nods. Lawyer approaches the committee and talks in a lowered voice with the committee.

L: The defendant was not briefed about the process.

Meanwhile, K glances over to L’s laptop and sees files sprawled open on the screen. Then it dawns on him that the screen was displaying a profile, his profile. Everything from his bank account information to his shoe size is listed.

K: Hey! That’s my personal information, why do you have it on your laptop?
C: You have 2 minutes starting now.

Lawyer grabs Krish and pulls him out of the room.

L: What I am about to tell you is very serious. I don’t have time to go into details so I am going to give it to you straight. Ready?
K: I am certainly pissed.
L: Krish, your life is in danger. You are about to die. You are here to defend your right to live.
K: What did you say? Are you threatening me?
L: No. I am here to defend you. I am your defense lawyer.
K: Why is my life in danger? Are these people the mafia of some kind?
L: Well sort of…we will have plenty of time to talk about this later. Right now you need to focus on saving your life.
K: Wait but why are they trying to kill me?
L: I understand you are angry. You should have been briefed. Okay, the best way for me to explain this to you is, consider that you are confronted by the Grim Reaper and he is asking you to justify why is it that he should let you live.
K: You are telling me that they are Grim Reapers?

Lawyer looks at the watch.

L: Okay we have to go in now. I haven’t had a chance to go through your file yet. What do you do for a living?
K: I am an engineer.
L: Oh boy.
K: What is that supposed to mean?
L: Okay we have to go back in there…NOW.

Krish now distinctly annoyed, enters the room and reluctantly sits in his chair.

C: Do you know why you are here?
K: You want to kill me?
C: Good we are on the same page now. Now tell us why we shouldn’t kill you.
K (shocked): You can’t just threaten people like this. I have had enough. I don’t want any part of this. I am leaving.
C: You cannot leave until we ask you to. But we know you will try. Go ahead.
L: Krish, please calm down.
K: Goodbye!

Krish struggles to get up as his legs suddenly feel heavy as if they weighed a thousand pounds each. The committee and the lawyer calmly watch Krish turn red with frustration.

C: We don’t have all day either Mr. Moorthy. I ask again, why should we renew your contract to live?

Krish still struggles to get up trying hard to unglue his feet from the floor.

L: Krish, stop fooling around and talk to the committee.
K (continues to yank his feet): They are stuck.
L: Its not your feet, it’s the gravity.
K: Alright David Blaine, did you use super glue?

Krish continues to pull on his feet.

L: Don’t you think you have pulled his leg long enough?
C: Oh alright!

The committee nods in agreement and suddenly the tightened hold of gravity on Krish’s feet lets go and his leg jolts up in the air hitting his knee on the table. Krish howls in pain. The committee looks bored.

L: Are you alright?
K (stroking his knee): What do you want from me?
C: What can you offer?
K (asks L): Can they not answer in the form a question?
L: Can we please reconvene. The defendant is not prepared for this trial.
C: We can see that. Krish, do you understand this process?
K: Yes. You are threatening to kill me and want me to beg for my life.
C: You don’t have to beg. You can convince us that you deserve to live.
K: I will not beg or convince. I will certainly report you to the cops.
C (chuckles): Your faith in the judicial system is quite adorable. Alright enough chit chat.
L: Oh god here we go again. I hate this part.
K: What?

Krish feels like the temperature in the room was turned up a 100C in a couple of seconds. Then sharp pains start shooting from his chest followed by a fit of tremors. His body goes limp with pain as he falls flat on his face.

K: I…can’t breathe. Doctor…help.
C: Say please.
L: For heaven’s sake stop it.

Krish now starts turning blue in the face.

K: Please…make this… stop.
C: There you go. Now was that so hard?

The pain subsides as suddenly as it had started. Lawyer helps Krish sit on the chair. Krish looks bewildered and mostly grateful that the pain had stopped.

L (asks C): Why do you always do that?
C: Pain is one of the most effective means to communicate. Look at how much time we saved. Krish just had his crash course on the process. We shall reconvene in 14 days.

Horrified and disoriented, Krish walks out of the room along with lawyer.

An hour later Krish is sitting across the table from lawyer in lawyer’s office. Krish sips on some brandy to calm his nerves.

L: So you said you were not briefed about the process. Those buffoons in the Summons department never get it right.
K: Why did they choose me?
L: It is a fairly random process.
K: So what is the next step?
L: Simply put, there are two outcomes. They renew the contract and you live. Failure to renew will result in your death.
K (cringes): So I die just like that?
L: Yes.
K: I just can’t believe it.
L: What is it with you people? Why do you guys always look so appalled when you find out that you are about to die? It’s like crowning the winner of a beauty pageant every time.

L animatedly puts hands on both cheeks.

L: “Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s me!” Cut out the drama already.
K: You are such an asshole.
L: The pleasure is all mine. Anyway, back to the process, there are 435,684 candidates applying for renewal. That is your competition. You have to convince the committee that your contract must be renewed over the other applicants. So let’s start by shooting off some reasons why you should live and then we will build our case from there.
K: Okay. Well, I am only 30. I am too young to die. I haven’t had a chance to do so many things in life.
L: All I have heard so far is me me me. I haven’t done this or that. Newsflash, they don’t give a rat’s ass about you. It’s not all about you Krish.
K: It’s not? Funny you should say that because I am about to die.
L: If you are going to tell them that you didn’t get a chance to do whatever it is you want to do they are going to say ‘too bad’. The other candidates have all the hopes and dreams you have. You need to think outside the box. You have to tell them why is it that you are an asset for this planet? Now go home, think about this and we will meet tomorrow at 5am.
K: Did you say A. M.?
L: Yes. That shouldn’t be a problem because you won’t get any sleep tonight.

Lawyer gets engrossed with his computer while Krish saunters out of the office with a heavy heart.

(...to be continued)

7 comments:

Sairam said...

hmm ... made me think about my time being up .. and how its always been about me me me ;) ... the committee isnt looking ver pleased at this point (gulp!) .

I remember 'shipwrecked' in school and college culturals , where the Captain and his crew decide which of the famous personalities deserve the life jacket..and people plead their cases. Old memories .. (btw ..the ek chidiya song , helped set the tempo !)

alias Fleiger said...

That's actually scary... and come to think of it, it would be a better world if we could just be given a chance to prove that we want to live. And interesting to know how many would really turn up for hearing.

Then again, what if the lawyer keeps getting next dates for hearing?

Crystal blur said...

Hey Sairam,
It spooks me out to think about death everytime I get into Krish's mind. Then when I think about the committee's (universe's) point of view, the apathy to death just seems so natural. I just wanted to muddle around with those perspectives in this story. Lets see how it shapes out. Am glad you enjoyed ek chidiya :)

Fleiger,
Well, if you think about it we are all here on a deadline. We just pretend that the deadline is not approaching any time soon and go about our lives.
As for the story, the department of death is pretty prompt. They won't keep getting dates, coz when you gotta go, you gotta go :)

alias Fleiger said...

Yes, on a deadline without knowing it... typical IT project ;)

And I was just wondering, if given choice to prove your worth and continue living, how many people would like to continue? Of course, age being a factor here.

sun4none said...

i dunno y.. i suddenly started thinking of 1984 by george orwell whn i was reading ths! :S.. weird shit! hehe.. ok.. lemme finish reading ths and comment again! :)

pragni~dreamcatcher~ said...

It's said that life is much richer when you know how much time you have.. And yes, it will be really very interesting to know the reasons why people would like to live on. Almost like, living life in a slow motion while you fall down a cliff, and searching for answers for it all the while.

indianpeppone said...

Ballistic.... love the thread..... the options available are innumerable... will be interested to see which u will take....