Alien(s) On Valium
Over a series of short encounters, this narcissistic tale of self-realization is based in the near, mildly dystopian future, and portrays the quarter-life crisis of an Indian that is forced to move back to India in lieu of President Trump’s malicious agendas.
Alien(s) on valium focuses on the similarities, and the differences in human nature, the uniqueness, the perspectives and the variations.
Through the life of a few, it traces the paths of a billion, and maybe more.
If you haven’t, read Chapter 4, or just go for it!
—- Desert Rose —-
—- (Dil Cheez Kya!) —-
Location: Planet Earth, a place where it is hard to deal with the one your loved ones once loved, or now loves
Two years ago:
‘Life is about finding things that help you survive. There is a rational fear of not being able to survive. This fear falls on a spectrum. On the far left of the spectrum rests the fear of not being able to find that thing I need to survive. As I progress, I soon arrive at the fear of finding that the thing I need is not enough. Further down this road, floats the fear of losing the thing I need. A few miles ahead, lies the fear of having thing I need taken away from me. The struggle is real, and it never fucking ends. Hustling for a brighter future. This hustle is addictive, because my entire fucking life has become a hustle. Our entire lives become a hustle, all of us. There is always room to improve, right? Life is a race where I’m supposed to focus on the road ahead of me. The only other place I’m allowed to occasionally focus on are the rearview mirrors, make everything behind me is alright. Can I just put this thing on autopilot, look out the window and enjoy the motherfuckin’ view. Or can I not? I have a lust for life, at least I used to.’ She sighed.
Rishi had been staring into the eyes of this hippie American girl, admiring every pixel of her brown skin and braided hair as she tripped the fuck out. The red and yellow stripes on her dress were calling attention from Rishi’s hallucinating mind, Rishi had zoned out everything but her face. The bonfire behind her, the beach behind him, the breeze between them, everything. As he heard her sigh. Rishi saw her struggling for words, the Einstein and Shiva blots were peaking through her eyes, for the last 17 hours. As she finally gathered the strength to speak, Rishi placed his right peace fingers on her lips. She had been looking at him all along, the beach on her peripheral vision but her eyes seemed to tune in more with this physical touch. Rishi rose to hug her, he whispered in her ears as she rose on her knees, overwhelmed.
Open your eyes wide, let the universe inside.
As Rishi stared into the bonfire, opening his eyes wide. Rishi’s hallucinations began where the high-rising flame ended, and red demons screamed as they burnt all the way to the heavens above. As Rishi’s body shivered pumping blood to support these soothingly diabolic hallucinations, he felt her body move, their racing heartbeats synchronized. Rishi whispered in her ear as he held her closer, “There’s a lot you see ahead of you, endless possibilities.” He paused and lifted her from the waist and turned to face the beach and continued, “and there’s a lot we’ve left behind, look at it, it’s beautiful, isn’t it! But what matters is right here, right now.”
The moment you’re living in!
As she heard him come to a stop, her trip stabilized as she agreed with him, she needed that calm, but also needed him to shut the fuck up for a second. More importantly, she needed to hear her own voice, after all, her existence mattered as well, so she spoke, ‘the fire is dying into the earth, here. Everything that I left behind, all my memories, will soon be ashes and dust and mix in the sand, the water of the oceans ahead of us. Does it ever come back?’
Rishi was thrilled at the sight in front of him, it was the moment of the rising sun. Rishi gently pulled her out of his embrace, supporting her upper back, looking into her eyes, ‘the fire dies and falls through the cracks in the sand and rises as the sun!’ and he let her get out of his lap and they both faced the ocean, a fresh sun on the horizon, here it comes. She stood up, held her hand out to him, her eyes did all the talking. Rishi gently grabbed onto her hand and got up.
Follow me into the ocean beyond these waves. Will you?
It was dark. Only two heavy breaths could be heard, one was the Hitachi split air conditioner in a far corner of the room, the draft turning from one corner to the other, waiting 10 seconds and then back. In between those ten seconds, you could hear Pepsi, a few heavy, hesitant breaths on the bed. The sound of dry skin lightly rubbing slightly scratching a smooth surface in passing as she felt Maddy’s comforting rub on her shoulder, an overwhelming touch. She took a deep breath, that soothing touch meant everything to her but it was so needed in life. Pepsi remembered Rishi’s touch. A touch she would never feel again, not that she needed to, but she couldn’t.
The touch of another lover.
‘He was a gem of a person, it was unfortunate that people only understood his music, not his words. He used to say life was a non-stop journey, in time and space, there were no destinations, because a destination meant stopping, and in this world, nothing ever stopped, not even after death. Nobody knows this, nobody ever expected it, expected him to be well versed with Pink Floyd Side B tracks, especially given his down-to-earth, not so fashion forward, formal education and professional etiquette lacking personna.’ Pepsi paused, and nodded her head, tired of the narrow-minded world and continued with a sigh, ‘Yes, he did not belong to our usual upper middle class social groups – mothers, busy at kitty parties, and fathers, lounging at Gym Khaana Clubs. He came from the backward classes of some village in Rajasthan, babe, you’ve probably not even heard of that place. Even Google Maps fucks up getting there. I’ve been there once, it is unforgettable.’ She rolled her eyes in sickness, and desertion, he moved his hand on her shoulder and gave a comforting rub, they lay face to face on the bed, half covered in sheets, a tear slowly started to make its way down Pepsi’s beautiful cheeks as she continued, ‘He took me there once, I met his parents, his mother, the most grounded person ever, his father, probably the reason he’s dead, on some psychological level, if not. He was a child of neglect, he didn’t know what affection was, the only passion in his life was his music, and he did everything for it. He had no education. At the age of seven his asshole of a dad lost all his earnings and his liver to alcohol, #Desi, and cancelled his enrolment from the local school, where he was getting an education in broken Hindi. But still, he learned from everything and everyone around him, he struggled because the one thing he learned from his hardships was that everyone has to pay their dues. And he did; not just metaphorically, he slogged his ass at tourist cafes and hostels in Gokarna, Kasol, Shillong, Udaipur, Delhi, Raipur, Varanasi, Coorg, Kodaikanal, all over the place, he spent two years in Meghalaya, that was his favorite part of the country, he was one of those people that loved the rain. He earned from minor jobs and tips, and saved to buy the best vintage instruments that his masters recommended, he paid the moral tutelage and respect to the mountain women he learned singing from in Meghalaya by working in their tea plantations, to the raagis in Udaipur by caring for their elephants, the Spanish hippies in Gokarna by cooking them delicious meals and cleaning their mess, and the dub-step electronica underground DJs of Delhi by driving their cars when they got too drunk. No job was demeaning to him; he just had a very blunt yet wise personality that nobody could ignore. People respected him, but only a few people actually understood him. He didn’t speak often, but when he did, his observations were unheard of. He lacked the suave, he was blunt, and came off as rude more than often, and that’s why he never lasted in any circle for more than a few months. He managed without paying rent as long as possible, he crashed at random places, sometimes with the healthcare deprived, homeless people outside AIIMs, sometimes at bus stations in Udaipur, atop local buses and many other places like that. He was resourceful. Everything he did, he made sure there was something in it for everyone. He told me about a time when he was traveling to the hills and was stuck in the rain on the outskirts of Chandigarh, at a Dhaba, completely broke, nothing to leverage but his music, he carried his life around in his rugsack with a tabla hanger at the bottom. He got it as a gift from an American hippie girl that he helped out when she was having a bad acid trip in Gokarna. And so, he went to the Dhaba owner, with his scheming proposal, he told the Dhabbe-wala Sardarji that there were 50 hippies and at least 20 families stuck at his Dhaba for at least 7 hours, and he offered to entertain them with his music in exchange for food. And soon, the Sardarji had setup a small podium for him next to the tandoor, where he started playing. He preached Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and could only be as perfect to experiment his instrumental music with Nusrat’s moans. He carried around a cassette full of Nusrat moans that he gave to the Sardarji, who connected it to the brash, bassy cassette player that lay under a framed picture of Dharmendra and the Deol Brothers, oh yes, I remember now, that Dhaba was called.’ She paused, giggled.
Sunny Paaji Da Tandoor
He started melodically banging on his tabla, a few hippies joined in with their flutes and guitars; a few dadis (grandmas) joined in with their Lata Mangeshkar like voices and the kids danced with their typical UP and MP dads and the hippies while their moms clapped along. And in return, he got to eat what he described as the best Aloo Parantha in the world. The passionate look on his face when he was telling me about this, was what made me fall for him in the first place.’ There is a dangerous silence before the levee breaks.
The levee broke and a tide of silent tears unleashed from Pepsi’s eyes. Madhav was clueless on how to react to such a situation. As much as he wanted to console her, and tried to console her, it wasn’t easy. He thought that his world would be an easy place if love had been a science, but it wasn’t, the laws of physics and mathematics did not apply to love, why is it so hard to be comfortable with someone your lover once loved? Or now loves. He slowly moved in toward her, and hugged her, her sobbing face in his shoulder, her eyes wide open, and a voice inside his head spoke in self-disgust, ‘For god’s sake, he is dead, how hard can it be for you to be okay with it, she’s in pain, she lost someone, someone she loved, imagine if your ex passed away, you would be a wreck, and you still believe you don’t give a shit.
Pepsi is so fucking strong!
‘You had no right to be mad in the first place if she was wishing her ex, now, you certainly don’t have any authority in this situation, this is about her. Wait, this is actually about him, it’s not about her either, but he’s dead.’ He started thinking how everything was eventually about himself, but knew this wasn’t not the right time for him to utter anything, ‘you don’t want to be THAT person’, the exact person he was trying not to be, and then a reassuring voice in his head went, ‘Do not mess this up. ‘ And so, he, a man of words, decided to stay shut.
She slowly regained her composure, she sobbed a few times, and slowly said, ‘He would’ve been 32 today, and I literally just called to wish him, I love you, you know that right, besides, I very clearly understand that I did not want to be with him, as much as I loved him. But please babe, don’t make this about you, I’m just sad because more than anything, he was the closest friend I ever had before I met you. A totally, diagonally opposite personality, but he was a great listener and mentor. He was no expert, but he was a guru of life tips. As fucked up as they were at times.’ She smiled a little, and closed her eyes. ‘I need to smoke. Can we please smoke and then go to bed. How does that sound?’ It sounded great, sometimes you just need to sleep on it, and this was a preempted well in advance, before he could say anything to fuck it up.
He tried to be as supportive as possible, and kissed her on the cheek, ‘yes ma’am, would you like some green tea as well?’ And she sighed through her sob, but with a lite giggle, ‘yes babe, but I’ll get that, you roll’ And she got up, turning on the lamp next to her, illuminating their grey walls, yellow light rising like the sun from one corner. He slowly sat up on the bed, no emotional or psychological clue of what was going on, but certainly knew that it was the right time for a joint. He reached to the side table and got out his stash box, a plastic box of Bru coffee. Bru se hoti hai khuskiyaan shuru! He took out the tiny ziplok full of hash, took out his rolling papers, made a roach, and unfolded his sacred rolling base. Finally, he took out the small pack of Kings cigarettes that rested at the very bottom of the Bru stash box, but found it to be empty. He aimed at the grey paper can at the far end of the room, and shot his usual, it bounced off the rim and made its way down the mesh sides of the grey paper bin. He shifted the rolling apparatus away from his folded legs, his checkered boxers slightly coming out of the blanket as he leaned over to Pepsi’s side to get her pack of Mild’s from her drawer. He opened the drawer, picked up her pack that lay next to her pink vibrator.
He consoled the vibrator, ‘it ain’t happening tonight, dude!’
He closed the drawer, believing in his inner voice. He took out a smoke from her pack and roasted it, he broke a small edge of hash, and held it above his zippo’s flame, once the piece was hot enough, he crushed it into powder with the roasted tobacco and started mixing them into smooth paste. He rolled his first joint of the day, rolling back-flipped. Once done, he kept the joint aside and packed his apparatus, he shouted out loud, ‘babe can you please get the ash tray?’ and heard footsteps, ‘that’s dirty, I cleaned the Pringles box though’ He fetched the small Pringles box that Pepsi used as a backup ashtray and kept next to her side table. He opened the lid, and it smelt of lavender, she had sprayed room freshener after cleaning it. He kept it on the bed and started to light the strip of paper hanging from the side of his back-flipped joint, and Pepsi entered the room at the same time with two glass cups in her hand, the scent and color of green tea slowly dissipating in the cup, no sugar.
As he passed the joint to her, to avoid the silence and make her comfortable, he asked, ‘so what was his name?’ And she replied laughing, ‘Maharishi Pratap Singh, son of ‘Ujjain Pratap Singh’ she paused, and then said, ‘but everyone called him Rishi.’ He paused not knowing where to go next, ‘look I’m sorry I don’t know what to say or do here, it’s a little awkward for me in this situation, but I’m totally supportive, its just, I don’t know what to say.’ She kept her hand on his thigh, leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek and passed him the joint. As she rested her head on the backrest, she let smoke above her head with a stress-relieving moan, and sipped on her tea. He maintained his silence, playing Dark Side Of The Moon on the wireless speakers from his phone, ready to fall asleep, ‘sounds like I would’ve liked him, he did like Pink Floyd, you can’t go wrong there.’ He paused and continued as he resettled, ‘so what time’s the train again?’ And she said, ‘4:30 babe, too early but that’s the easiest way to get there, it’s the only one that goes that far non-stop, and unless you feel like changing trains, don’t forget we have to change two buses after the train and possibly sleep over on the way,’ she paused and looked at the ceiling, ‘god, I’m going to make you hate me’ and paused again. Finally, she looked at him, ‘you know you don’t have to come with me, I can do this by myself, besides Shankar is going to join half-way there.’ He let out the smoke with a mild cough, ‘Babe, I want to. Don’t worry, I did plenty of these train and bus rides before I left for Chicago, and I loved every bit of them, especially because it’s beautiful and you can smoke on the trains.’
And, Third AC is gonna be awesome!
Feedback welcome and viewed as constructive criticism.
Stay tuned for what happen’s next. Updates scheduled on a frequent basis.