Wordspill: The Man of Mode by Anhiti Patnaik


11th March, 2:10 pm

He was a tall, bulky column standing between my sight and the blaring, distracting glare of the television. I gulped. Half-masticated food. Of course I knew what was wrong.
“There are maggots on your time, son”
I battled with the gross visuals that negated my appetite. He walked away quietly with his shoulder blades clenched, his jaw taut like mine but sans the well-cooked particle of board-exam-appropriate-food. My ten minute lunch time had been exceeded by two and a half. By now I could have finished writing a three mark answer from the Maths question bank.
When I did finish writing the answer, a warm droplet landed on the water proof ink and tried with its might to obliterate the contents on the page. There was another warm splash on the back of my neck, but I didn’t turn around. Soon, my mum’s face would bend close to my ear as I blankly stared into my notebook. Her tear-corroded voice would say- “You’re meant to do this, and I know you’ll do it, my love”

12th March, 12:01 am

There are shadows on my ceiling. The stern streetlight gathers feeble images that my imagination produces. Page two hundred and twelve, diagram thirteen point nine appears with its trademark spidery transversal. After two steps, you draw an altitude. I’ve never figured out why, just that you have to, or else you won’t get that elusive solution. I can see Reema walking across page seventy eight with her basket of oranges, and immediately remember the probability.
I know that just because I know these answers, I won’t find these questions in today’s paper. I also know that this is my only chance at getting that hundred per cent in the most-scoring-paper out of the lot. This is my only chance to live up to what my parents have given me my life for. My function in this society as a student gets qualified tomorrow. Basically, I go public.
So if I allow that picaresque mosquito to bite me, and I get dengue tomorrow… I’ll miss my chance. The only attempt I get at fulfilling my purpose.
The black, straight-backed digits on my watch are getting dim and mixing with the fluorescent backlight. I’ve wasted two hours of my moderated sleep. I can’t explain how your eyes don’t close when they’re too dry. There’s no point to close them really when you have to crowbar them open at each dawn. I tried to cry to lubricate them but it was empty.
Sliding out of the covers, I latch the bathroom door shut softly and sit on the u-bend fully naked. I can’t shit. I can’t pee. Vomit. Because at 1:30 pm tomorrow the tourniquet will finally be loosened, so I have to last it out. I’m meant to do this right.

12th March, 3:00 pm

I forgot the altitude. Drew a bisector instead. And so I never forgive myself. I hide forever. So much for my ‘going public’.

23rd April, 7:15 pm

Mum doesn’t know I’ve been the one responsible for the water shortage. Every night, I sit on the u-bend for hours watching the water fill and overflow the bucket. I play with the puddle at my feet and listlessly splash around. Things that overfill their container have always intrigued me. I wish this bathroom was a bucket and I was that ant swirling and gasping in it.
Not yet. Because I haven’t made my ‘mark’. Maybe, when I do…

25th May, 5:05 pm

We all think we’re happy when we smile or feel warm inside at the agency of some stimuli. But you can only truly be happy when you know what it is to be truly not-happy.
And that’s not a lukewarm poetic sense of achievement.
It’s an explosion.
Today, my eyes were finally wet, as I laughed and laughed and screamed with joy. My skin was red from being rubbed with raucous congratulation. It felt as though my relatives had tattooed the hundred per cent onto my shoulders. My hair was completely askew from being rumpled. Throat ached from graciously and humbly responding to my accolade, on a billion phone calls, some even from overseas. My blood joined in with the outdoor noise. It crashed like a tornado in my gut or thudded in my veins, like heavy luggage being dumped on a platform. Each breath I took overwhelmed my lungs. Legs felt jittery, lips burnt from the various forms of caffeine, both hot and cold, that I was smothered with, as a symbolic revival of normal-human-junk food again. Papa forced me in front of the television and laughed louder than the laugh-track. I think looking at my Maths marks over and over was giving me a powerful aphrodisiac. Tiny, but rapid and powerful pulsations kept flying up and down my chest. If I saw that bisector on my textbook today, I would make love to it.

26th May, 12:45 am

The revelry is over and everyone sleeps. But it carries on in my pulse. I needed peace and I found it. Who doesn’t feel that silent sense of content after everything they lived for and worked for and dreamed for, materializes before them just the way it should.
I found peace in the slow and steady drip-drip sound of crimson running down my wrist… spilling out.
At last.
I was a little apprehensive that it would hurt, but nothing hurts anymore. Not here. Not in this haven of complete and absolute happiness. Adding to the joy, I’d like to mention that it was done most elegantly and aptly. A compass. From my Camlin geometry box set. The same one that helped me construct the bisector- that epitome of my victory



Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.


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