Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Bug

 I don't know how to tell you this’ said Ricky. He noticed, or rather recollected, that the abundance of natural light in the room made Augustin, who was sitting across the table, look like an animated shadow drowned in sunlight. The consistent, metronomic tune he drummed on the tabletop, which made the spoons kept on it vibrate tenuously and click against each other to make metallic overtones to his beats, made Augustin a surreal presence across the table, an unreal shadow that Ricky was talking to.

‘I have never seen you so terrified’, said Augustin, words emanating from his formless silhouette.  
Ricky shook his head and said ‘I don’t know if it is serious, I have a nagging feeling that it might be. All I am sure of is that I have never felt anything like this before in my life’ Somebody walked into the restaurant, a tall man in a black suit and a bowler hat who momentarily blocked the light and Ricky could see Augustin’s face in his shadow, Augustin whose eyes were narrowed to serpentine slits of scrutiny. The man walked away and Augustin was once more featureless.

‘Tell me what this is about. All the pretext is making me nervous’ said Augustin,
‘You know there are two routes from my house to my office. One by this road parallel to the beach and the other by the main road through the heart of the city’ said Ricky
‘Yes, yes’ Augustin nodded in affirmative.
‘Well yesterday morning I didn’t know which of these two to take. I just forgot which road I should be taking. I happened today morning again. It is like have no memory of what I am supposed to do next, I have to think about it every time’
‘What do you mean you don’t remember?!’ asked Augustin in a high pitched tone that reverberated, bouncing off the white walls of the almost empty restaurant, as his voice died out there was a sinister silence.
‘I don’t remember. From yesterday whenever I am faced with a choice I can’t remember what to do next. I have to make decisions about everything. It’s crazy’ said Ricky.
‘You are crazy’ said Augustin, finger pointing ‘How can you not remember man. You always remember what to do next, always’

Lost in their conundrums they did not see the waiter who approached the table and announced his presence with a question ‘May I take your order sir?’ Both Ricky and Augustin took the menu cards. Augustin just glanced through it and said ‘I will have pasta with white sauce and olives’ The waiter noted it down with fast strokes in his note pad and turned his head towards Ricky who was hiding his perspiration riddled face behind the menu card which was trembling like his hands in anticipation of the choices he will have to make so as to have dinner. He tried his best to decide what to order, a dilemma he had never faced before in his life, every dish from pasta to dosa looked good, he searched his head frantically to try and remember what should he be ordering today at this precise moment in the cosmic scheme of things, he searched in the folders of his memory to find his choices, he found only a black blankness in the memory of the future. The waiter urged him with a polite, monosyllabic question ‘Sir?’
Ricky looked up from the menu card and said with a quivering voice ‘I’ll take whatever he his having’ He lost the game of choosing and succumbed to the lazy habit of duplicity.
The waiter left the table, Augustin was giving him a belligerent look ‘What the hell was that all about?’
‘I told you. I can’t remember anything about the future. It’s completely blank. I have to make decisions every time’ said Ricky, retracting his neck into his shoulders in shame.
‘Go get your head checked then, see a shrink today itself’
The thought had occurred to Ricky, to get his head checked, to get rid of the nagging blankness in his memory of things to come, to be normal again, and to live by remembering rather than thinking. But he liked it, he liked the small rush of blood he got when he weighed out his options and made a decision, it made him feel that he was the master of his own destiny, a god of small things.
‘No, I’m not going to get my head checked. I like it this way’
‘What?!’ once again Augustin’s high pitched voice rose high above the serene rumblings of the far away sea.
‘Ya I like it’ said Ricky emphasizing the ‘like’, rolling his tongue over the ‘l’, clicking at ‘i’, finishing with a short, slap-like ‘it’.
‘How can you like it? It’s a bloody waste of time. See how much time you took with the menu’ said Augustin, who did not like what he was hearing, his acerbic tone barely veiled his feelings.
‘You wouldn’t understand it man. It feels really good. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but at least you know you are in control. And the feeling you get when things work out is… it’s like cold beer washing down your parched throat on a summer day. It’s fucking liberation man, you got to try it’
Augustin looked at Ricky, silence, he lifted his left hand towards his head and started moving his forefinger in circles near his left ear and finally broke the silence ‘I don’t want to go cuckoo like you man. If I want to feel that, I’ll go buy a drink’
Ricky ignored his friend’s snide remark and his forefinger still going around in circles, questioning his sanity. He leaned back on his chair and looked out through the open doors of his restaurant. He saw palm trees lining the road on the other side, yellow sand, white foam, blue sea joining the blue sky at the horizon which was of an indescribable colour. In the blankness of his mind, free from the preconceived, contrived memories of the future, Ricky could feel thoughts and connections he had never felt before in his life. Inside him there was a tenuous seething novel to his universe. He understood, like no man before him that the sea, the sand, his body, his soul, his thoughts, his memories, everything except the rebellious, riotous feeling in him to think, was too perfect. He had never experienced prolonged pain, or heartbreak, he has never had diseases, never had he been involved in an accident of any kind, nor have Augustin, nor have his wife Laura, nor have the waiter Anelsmo, but all of them knew about such horrors, who put these vile notions in their heads? What use of knowing about such shit in a perfect world? He found this strange. He leaned forward to tell Augustin about this apparent anomaly, then he heard gunfire, Augustin’s head bobbed like it had been punched, pieces of his skull burst into the air followed by jets of blood and brain.


Ajay didn’t like what he saw in the screen. He rolled his enormous body as quick as he could to get his myopic eyes as close to the screen as possible, toppling a glass of Coke he kept on his table in the process.
‘Fuck!’ he exclaimed. Still staring at the screen he shouted as loud as he could ‘Hey Martin!’
Martin was his neighbor from the next cabin. Mr Fix it of the group, the go to guy when your code crashed.

No response. Ajay took in a deep breath and shouted again ‘Hey Martin! Come over here, there is something wrong with this mission’
He heard the screech of a chair moving from the other side of his cabin wall, five seconds later Martin was peering over his shoulder at the screen
‘You should get your table cleaned up’
‘Ya ya, we got bigger problems than that’, said Ajay, choosing not to look at the Coke soaked mess that was his table
‘What’s the big deal? This seems to be running fine’ said Martin, pushing up his heavy spectacles up his nose with his middle finger.
‘No, it’s not. The first mission is supposed to end with a cut scene showing the gang entering a restaurant, shooting a random customer and then making off with the money’ said Ajay
‘And the problem is….’
‘The problem is that the game goes berserk at that point. They shoot a guy in the restaurant, but another guy just slaughters them inside the restaurant before they can take the cash’ said Ajay, shifting uneasily in his bean bag.
‘The people in the restaurant are props right?’ asked Martin
‘Yeah, just props, unplayable dummies. They should have no bearing on the outcome of the game. But this guy just pops out of nowhere’
‘Must be a bug’
‘Bugs make the game crash. What kind of a bug goes all vigilante?’ asked Ajay
‘Ah screw it. Just delete the code for the props in the restaurant and ask one of the interns to recode them’ said Martin, once again he had fixed the bug.


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