Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A White Sheet Of Paper

‘Bham... bham, bham, bham’

Four innocent scrawls were etched on the pristinely white paper using an Add Gel pen. John stared at the words for a few minutes, his eyebrows furrowed in deep though. He added one more ‘bham’ at the end of his first line.

John Thomas was starting on his English assignment. He had been sitting on it for a week. And since the teacher had insisted on seeing them on her desk by Monday morning, he had started writing his brilliantly thought out story on that rain drenched Saturday afternoon. But the sudden appearance of the sun and an equally sudden appearance of eight young boys in shorts and shoes with a muddied football between them had weakened his sagging resolve. With the story poised expectantly at four words, he had run off to join in the joyous chorus that greeted the sun. Now it was Sunday evening and his mind was grappling with the plots and sub plots of his very own G.I. Joe story. In the untidy upstairs room of a small suburban house, John looked at the figure of Duke as it stood menacingly on his table with a big gun in its hands and wondered how he could bring G. I. Joe to India.

John loved G. I. Joe. Every day at 5 in the evening, he would plant himself in front of the television for half an hour of guns, explosions and daring missions as Duke and his team of handpicked fighters battled to save the world from evil. His worst nightmares had Cobra Commander, the terrorist commander, coming home and trying to shoot him. He looked at Duke and then at himself in the mirror. How he wished he was not short, thin and small. He wanted to be like Duke, big and strong, carrying big guns and flying fighter planes and helicopters. Shyam wouldn't make fun of him then. He went back to Cobra’s plan of attack. He wondered what Cobra’s target would be. Not Bangalore, he didn't want his mother and father and his friends to die. He thought for some time and continued to scribble.

‘....Cobra commandos suddenly swept down into the city of Mumbai. They started shooting everyone. They had come to steal the top secret plane that India had developed. The Indian Scientists and the Indian Army, loaded the plane on a ship and got ready to evacuate. By then, Cobra Commandos had taken control of the city, Raptor fighter planes and Viper helicopters attacked the city from above. H.I.S.S battle tanks and heavily armed soldiers patrolled the city. The only resistance was around the ship, which was almost sinking after being hit by two missiles.....’

He wondered if he should make Cobra Commander kill the Mayor and the Police Commissioner on live TV. Suddenly heard footsteps on the stairs and the door opened, letting in his mother who came in with a big mug of Boost. He hid the sheet under a stack of Justice League comics. She would see the story only when it was over. He sat drinking Boost and leafing through a Tinkle while she tidied up his room. She placed the action figures and Hotwheels cars lying on the floor back on the shelves. He proudly looked up at the big collection he had. The figures of Scarlet, Shipwreck, Snake Eyes, Bazooka and Cobra Commander looked down at him. Lying next to them was a broken model of the Batmobile and a figure of Robin missing an arm. He smiled expectantly as he pictured a GI Joe Wolfhound there instead of the Batmobile. How he wished his birthday would come sooner.

A siren wailed at a distance and he heard the soft thumps of fireworks. It seemed India had won the game against South Africa in the Chinnaswamy Stadium. If it were not for the assignment he would have been watching that match. He picked up his mug and looked at the chipped face of Sachin Tendulkar smiling at him. Maybe he should kill Sachin. He lived in Mumbai anyway. No, he liked Sachin. It should be Symonds. He didn’t like him at all. There would be an India vs Australia match in Mumbai on that day. A missile strikes the ground and Symonds dies. He smiled and continued the story as the soft whirring of a vacuum cleaner started in the front room below him.

‘... Many of the soldiers protecting the ship were badly wounded and Cobra commandos were going to capture the plane when a sudden hail of missiles and bullets rained down upon the Cobra forces around the ship. Shipwreck, Bazooka and Heavy Duty arrive with a team to help the soldiers at the ship.  Scarlet and Duke went to the headquarters of Cobra while the others fought the enemy soldiers on the streets...’

The story continued - G. I. Joe commandos fought hard to regain control of Mumbai. He described how all the hostages were valiantly rescued in the battle that went on into the night and how Cobra Commander, ran away at the end. He heard an ambulance again, and the fireworks were closer now. Lokesh’s father must have bought the crackers. He wrote faster. He didn't want to miss any of the crackers.

‘..The President of India awarded medals to the brave soldiers of....’

Now they were right in front of his house. That meant even Naren has bought crackers. As he quickly wrote his name and roll number in the right hand bottom corner, he heard a crash and the sound of tinkling glass from the room below. Mum must have broken something; she would be in a bad mood.

John Thomas
Std VI ‘A’
Roll No: 17   ’

The sirens kept blaring, now closer home. He grabbed the two sheets of white paper in one hand and the stick figure of Duke in the other and ran down the stairs triumphantly.

His mother lay in the front room, blood pooling around her. A big blotch of red marred the flowery cream of her nightgown. As he ran towards her shouting, he tripped on the wire of the vacuum cleaner that still kept droning on. Duke fell down on its back, its plastic gun pointing at the rotors of a fan lazily going round and round as two white sheets of paper, bruised and tainted, fluttered about in their wake.