Aakash Nihalani’s neon gemometric cubes have dotted the sides of streets around the world. They make you suddenly aware of space and its dimensions, and of the synthetic displacement they cause in us, causing us to reassess what we held to be flat, dimensional, true, comic or sublime. Like crystals, they seem to have complex, compounded lives of their own, and brought in conjunction with an environment, seem to become animate aspects of the landscape, mathematical yet instinctive to the tremors of the site in which they lodge themselves.
The following three shorts explore the various layers of awareness we bare in relation to the world around us and the fascinating things that chance upon us, guised in the mundane.
I was so preoccupied with how badly I had ended that phone call with my boyfriend before I had gotten onto the F train that I literally ran into a sticky situation. My focus was on drafting the perfect message as I walked up the stairs so I cold press send the minute I had a bar of signal when a strip of neon pink tape clotheslined me. Effin’ New Yorkers with nothing else to do but tape up walkways because they think its funny.
There it is— ‘You’re right. One cannot compare Qayamat se qayamat tak to Romeo + Juliet just because both are musical versions of Shakespeare’s original. This is silly. Let’s not fight.’ My mother always told me to pick my battles. This wasn’t one of them. I press send with one hand as I get the remaining tape off me with the other.
I make it a point to walk past the Banksy that had appeared a few months ago on my walk from the station to work. Today was one of the few days that I was not late to work since I had stormed out of the house early to end that stupid conversation.
As I turned a left, I saw the stop sign I passed every day that today had a white metal fractal frame around it. Oh how I love effin New Yorkers with nothing else to do but to frame stop signs just for me; the brick buildings bring out the cubic symmetry of the metal lattice.
I turn to my left and watch as a man with a black umbrella walks right into more neon tape mimicking the cinder-block grid. This simultaneously mocked Manhattan, as select blocks fall downward as if the man and his umbrella were about to be crushed by their silly descent.
Aannnd…. dammit, I’m late for work.
Erwin had lost track of how many rotations the hands on his Gebrüder Resch had made. He is determined to rationalize his way back into certainty. He had let his mind wander so deep into the velvet time-space of the particles which he encountered everyday, that he nearly lost a life when the cat, a stray he fed at 4 o'clock every day, rapped on the window to remind him of their daily ritual.
A scraggly excuse for a cat scampers in when he finally opens the kitchen door. Erwin absent-mindedly pours the milk, which overflows even as the cat greedily begins to lap the drip.
And there it is! Horrific mass of patchy calico fur. When Erwin first began to feed her, before they had fallen into their 4 o'clock rhythm, he never knew whether she would succumb to whatever it was that afflicted her outside.
Excuse-for-a-cat is put in a steel chamber. Inside the steel chamber is small amount of radioactive material— such an iota that in the course of an hour 1 atom decays, or not. The experiment must be very precise. If the atom decays, the cat will be rendered dead otherwise he’d continue his daily ritual. When Erwin returns to the experiment after an hour, the cat is either dead or alive. He won’t know until he checks.
Erwin steps out of his neon thought-cube and back into the deterministic world he so surely knows he inhabits, where now only happens because of a precise series of events. He waits for the cat to finish her refreshment before he picks it up for the first time, space.
The summer scorched the Deccan dry on its arduous journey towards its apex. The contingent of British officers visiting from the Madras presidency was on their day off. They had decided to see whether they could turn themselves into local heroes by bagging the tiger that was preying on the husbanded animals around Aurangabad.
John and his two comrades in arms were hot on the tiger’s trail. They had followed him around for half a day already and were on a break from the chase when they heard the roar. They followed the sound to a tabletop hill. And what were the chances? There she was— waiting, taunting.
John had done this before and on his command they inched forward for a kill shot. He squints up at the sun and has to wait for the neon sun trails to dissolve back into his reality before he can focus on the chase once more. Neatly camouflaged by the sun-dried brush and red earth, she padded away slowly, remaining just out of range of her stalkers.
After half an hour of this mouse-chasing-cat game John springs forward guns in a frenzy. The confused tiger stands at attention for a second before she scoots off a ledge. Her stalker was ready to follow the same path but is distracted from his leap into the hands of the almighty by a dozen or so regularly shaped holes that poxed the smooth rockface across the river valley below.
Waylon D'Mello is a writer breathing-in Pune.
Fate? Or Chance? Is always the question. Were you at the right place at the right time, or were you pre-ordained to have, at 1.53am, met the love of your life, as you seemingly randomly decided to take a night walk to buy a tub of ice cream that you would eventually forget to buy? You had fallen asleep on the couch because today was the big speech, otherwise you would be snoring in bed right now. You woke with a start when a fire engine passed by, and you realized you had broken into a sweat. The night was hot, and when you opened your window to let the breeze in, you smelled something so raw and real, you felt an overwhelming desire to take a walk. And to eat ice cream. And there he was: Indian marigold tucked behind his ear, The Winter's Tale in one hand and... ice cream in another. Butterscotch with blueberries. Need I go on?Read More
By Waylon D’Mello, Issue 12, The Chance Issue, September 2012