Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On your 106th

They say human beings are obsessed about the number ten because they have ten digits in every limb. For the same reason, numbers like 100, 1000, 10000, are more lucrative than, say, 671, 2342, and 38247 despite the magnitude. There was a reason that people had waited with bated breath in anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar’s hundredth international hundred, despite meaninglessness of the milestone.

You did not reach the 100-mark they have so yearned for. We will never know now whether you had tears in your eyes that day. All we know is that they have never made anyone like you, and they are not likely to make another. Even a hundred hundreds will not take the sheen away from the magic number of 99.94 — a number beyond the dreams of mortals in any format of the sport at any level.

There is no doubt that you were the greatest. The only debatable aspect is whether you were the greatest across sports; whether anyone has dominated any sport the way you had; whether their failures pipped war news to the headlines when you failed: it was an occurrence that unthinkable.

Tales can be concocted to the liking of the narrators. Numbers, on the other hand, leave no scope for imagination. You have ruled the world of numbers. Once again, 99.94 remains beyond the scope of mere mortals, despite the fact that we live in an era when 50 is fast becoming the new 45.

It was fitting in a way that you did not reach the 100-mark. It reduced your godlike stature that little bit, making us believe that even you could be felled, even you are mortal. Had cricket been a religion, you would certainly have been a god; but that 99.94 made you become a Hercules instead of a Zeus: beyond the impregnable exterior there lay a human being.


Happy 106th, Sir Don.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alia re!

Courtesy: Google Images
This post is going to be a small one. A remarkably small one, in fact.

This one is about Alia Bhatt. Had flaring of nostrils been an Olympic event, Alia would have won a couple of gold medals to make our nation proud (is flaring of nostrils a doubles event?).

This post does not involve flaring of nostrils, or any activity regarding them; for that matter, it does not involve any part of her nose that had turned out to be the a salient feature of Highway.

I was a bit late to catch up with the Koffee With Karan episode on social network. What had she been thinking? Varun Dhawan ended up responding with Manmohan Singh, which was not unexpected: champion quizzers have lost nerves and have come up with answers very close to the correct one.

Alia, as we know, had taken things to a different plane.


Before she knew, internet was flooded with Alia Bhatt jokes (some of them were outstanding, and I loved them more than Alok Nath, Nirupa Roy, or Yami Gautam jokes — though not as much as Neil Nitin Mukesh jokes). #AliaBhattJokes started trending on Twitter.

***

All India Bakchod had come up with a video to “troll” Alia a year and a half back after the path-breaking number Ishqwala love. Just like almost any AIB video, it is approaching the million-views mark. Alia herself had appeared in the video, but it was merely a dig at the ridiculous lyrics of a horrible song.


Then AIB did it in collaboration with Alia. They trolled her again, but with a difference. This time they decided to go big: they roped in Mahesh Bhatt, Karan Johar, Arjun Kapoor, and Parineeti Chopra (sigh), but most significantly — they got Alia as well. Again.


AIB did a wonderful job yet again, but I was blown off by Alia. She hails from the same country where a certain chief minister had issued an arrest order for a reasonably harmless (ill-made) cartoon; and yet, she laughed, and most importantly, she laughed at herself.

Sense of humour is an intriguing concept. People close to me are perhaps aware of the fact that I keep on brooding that humour is not offered as a major.

The other aspect that I am ashamed of admitting is the fact that sense of humour has certainly not been strongest point of Indians. We have tried to be funny, but few would rank among the world’s finest humorists.

There is a reason for this: we do not know how to laugh at or make fun of ourselves. Our bloated egos do not allow us to do the same. We end up making fun of others, taking jibes at them in public, and flooding Twitter with 140-character one-liners.

Alia Bhatt did none of the above. She made no smart-aleck comments on the internet; she did not retaliate on social media (pardon my limited knowledge if she has).

Instead, she responded in the best possible way: with a bit of help from others (which includes Parineeti, the finest of the young lot) she made us laugh at herself; and feel guilty; and feel like slapping ourselves.

We had made fun of her. She combated with humour, and won the battle, because however hard you try to defeat and strangle it, humour always comes out victorious in the end.


Kudos, Alia. If only we had mastered the art of laughing at ourselves as well. If only I could do at 37 what you could at 21. Stay well, girl, and whatever you do in life, do not give up the ability to laugh at yourself.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Random Decade of a Demented Mind


I do not remember when I had come across Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind for the first time. It was perhaps Debipriya who had provided me with the URL. I remember being sceptic when I came across the name Greatbong: what kind of a name is that?

But I read; and got hooked. I cannot remember the exact post, but I get the odd feeling that it was Mithunism. Then came Gunda — the Legend, which was (as far as my knowledge goes) the reason behind the craze for Gunda in the second half of the previous decade. I am yet to come across a single blog post that had done the same.

Then I got to know that Greatbong is an engineer, which meant that we, students of science, the outcast in the realm of Indian English authors, all could write. Of course, we could not match his quality, but then, at least we could try to.

So I started my blog; because Greatbong had started his; and I kept writing; because Greatbong had.

We later became acquaintances and argued on miscellaneous topics, especially cricket, on social media; he is the author of two published (of which The Mine is one of the finest works in horror fiction in Indian literature) and one about-to-be-published book.*

*This will probably be "books". Things like this always confuse me.

But there is more to Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind than all that: the blog had been an integral part of my early 30s. Choose any event: India winning World Cup, my migration from Orkut to Facebook, my turning into a teetotaller, AK Hangal passing away, and Fardeen Khan leaving for Dubai. Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind has been there all along.

But more importantly, Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind had inspired me (among many would-be outcasts) to take up blogging. The fact that this blog — the one with the most innovative name in the history of blogosphere — exists is because Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind had taken off exactly a decade back.

Greatbong broke the monopoly. He set the trend. We merely followed suit. It all started with him. It is unfortunate that his first name rhymes with one of the most, er, talked-about quiz-masters in Kolkata.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams: random thoughts

Courtesy: Somewhere on the internet
Dear Robin Williams:

If you did not believe you were funny, you should have watched yourself react to what you did while watching your own movies. They (I have no idea who this “they” refers to, but it sounded cool when I wrote it) did not take you as seriously as they took, say, Al Pacino, but then, they never saw The World According to Garp, which was possibly your finest performance till date.

Garp, as John Irving had taught us, was to be taken seriously. And you were the Garpest of all possible Garps that had ever existed in Garposphere. It was not before yesterday, however, that I realised that being Garp was not a challenge for you: in a way you were Garp.

***

PS:
This is the last time I am using the name Garp in this email. I won’t be Garping about it anymore.

***

PPS:
Sorry. This time I am serious.

***

But this email is not another fan mail. I guess you have received more fan mails than the number of minutes I have lived till date, so there is no point.

We did not know who you were. We knew about you. We did not know you.

***

PS:
When I say “we” I assume there are others.

***

Let us move on, then. While you were making the entire world laugh there was something else going on. Along with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, you had co-hosted Comic Relief’s maiden fundraiser; you were actually multitasking, rehearsing for the fundraiser, as Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, and Deconstructing Harry released in the same year.

Let us not digress. We all laughed at your antics on screen, but as Greatbong has pointed out, we had failed to realise at the staggering number of times you have played a “morbidly lonely” character, with “morbidly” being the keyword.

Laughing is difficult. Making others laugh is difficult.

Crying is difficult as well unless you’re Sukhen Das (Tollywood alert). Making others cry is difficult as well.

Making others laugh and cry at the same time is nigh-impossible, and you were a master of that art, Robin.

Then you hanged yourself. Just like that. They said you were suffering from depression. They have already moved on after RIPping social media and mentioning how you have made them laugh and why depression is crucial.

I wonder how many of them really understood you. I wonder how many get what depression actually is.

***

Note:
Unless mentioned, Robin, “you” would not refer to you anymore. I am addressing goodness-knows-who from now on. When I refer to you again, I will mention.

***

Let me cut things short: depression is a demon; it is just that it stays inside you and it’s extremely difficult to counter what is inside you (neither Kalashnikovs nor Uday Chopra movies seem to work under such circumstances).

But depression is not just a random internal demon: it is an ogre that nobody barring you agrees to acknowledge. There are times when you will be told that depression is a state of mind that can be overcome with a flick of the thumb.

You will have to get accustomed to two kinds of reactions:
1. Depression is a luxury not anyone can afford.
2. You’re depressed because you do not have enough responsibility (which is somewhat synonymous to “an idle brain is a devil’s workshop”).

Then they move on. You feel like reaching out to them, desperately wanting them to talk to you. Then you realise that there is nothing to talk to and they are busy and you are acting dumb and they are doing you a favour but you still want them to do that favour and you realise that they are confused because you have nothing to tell them and yet you have a lot to tell and time passes by and since you get the feeling that they are getting tired of the entire thing you get into a shell that becomes impregnable with every passing day.

Once you reach that stage you do not want the others to break in. Then that shell becomes a mask. And then you realise that laughter is the most indestructible of all masks that have ever existed, for who would suspect that a man who laughs and makes others laugh can actually be the most depressed soul around?

Thus, the mask gets stronger; and harder; with every passing moment; and then, when the maggots start eating into the flesh and all you are left with is the mask. The “you” in you ceases to exist. The world never gets to know that there is no face behind the smiling mask; the fact that the mask is mocking at them; and they laugh their way to glory.

One can easily dish out statistics regarding the number of people suffering from depression at this time with some research, but it will be a futile effort: this is merely a guess, but I strongly suspect most people suffering from depression refuse to come out of the closet. They think it is a sign of weakness, and it is a widely accepted notion that being weak is being un-cool, especially for grown-ups.

***

Note:
Robin, I will be addressing you from now on. You may choose to ignore, though. A lone voice may easily get drowned.

***

When you made us laugh and cry at the same time, Robin, we thought you were acting. We thought it was the usual mask actors put on in front of the camera. We never realised that you were not. We were morons. We never realised that you never needed to act in any of the movies. Even in Patch Adams.

You were unhappy. You put up a mask. We thought it was an artificial mask. We never realised the mask was a real one. When we did realise, it was too late.

Not that it would have mattered. Depression, after all, is a luxury people with a lot of free time can afford. You are not the first, though.

Charley Case (sometimes referred to as the man who had started stand-up comedy) was an introvert off the stage, had suffered a nervous breakdown, and had died “while cleaning a revolver”.

Darrell Hammond (of Saturday Night Live fame) had memories of being brutally abused by his mother in his childhood. He attempted suicide at 19, went to rehabs following substance abuse. He also suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder. He had also tried to cut himself backstage during a Saturday Night Live episode and on another occasion had to be taken to the show directly from the psychiatric ward.

The ebullient Chris Farley (also of Saturday Night Live fame; he was also shortlisted to play the lead in A Confederacy of Dunces) was treated for obesity and drug abuse seventeen times. Seventeen. He died of cocaine and morphine overdose. He was 33.

Katt Williams (nominated Choice Comedian for Teen Choice Awards in 2007) became a marijuana addict. He went into rows with audience, and worse, missed shows, changed religion twice, and called himself a “social recluse” in an interview with New York Times. He has given up making others laugh because it conflicted with his health: he could not conceal it anymore.

You could, Robin; until you could not anymore.

Let me do something, for once, that I seldom do: quote someone else.

“Eighty percent of comedians come from a place of tragedy. They didn’t get enough love. They have to overcome their problems by making people laugh.” — Jamie Masada, owner, Laugh Factory (a comedy club based in Los Angeles).

You did not run away. You are not an escapist, Robin. You are a superhero who merely chose to move away from us. Just like Hercules. We have never deserved you.

A fan.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

চিরকালের


বিভিন্ন লোকের চাপে পড়ে এই প্রতিযোগিতায় নাম দিয়েছিলাম। বলা বাহুল্য, কাঁচকলা জুটেছে। আজ দেখলাম, গল্পগুলো পড়ে পড়ে পচছে। একসঙ্গে তিনটে না ছেড়ে একটা একটা করে বাজারে ছাড়ি বরং।

***

ট্যাক্সি ধরলাম অফিসের সামনে থেকে। ক্লান্ত, তাই উঠেই সিটে শরীরটা এলিয়ে দিলাম। অনেক রাত হয়ে গেল আজ। হঠাৎ ড্রাইভারের সিটের পেছনে লেখা ট্যাক্সির নম্বরটা চোখে পড়তেই চমকে উঠলাম

এ তো আমার গাড়ির নম্বর! আমি চিৎকার করে ড্রাইভারের কাঁধ খামচে ধরে চোর! চোর!” বলে চিৎকার করে উঠলাম।

ড্রাইভার আমার দিকে ফিরে মুচকি হাসল। এবার আমার আরো চমকে যাওয়ার পালা। মনে হল যেন আয়না দেখছি হুবহু একই চেহারা, এমনকি পোষাক পর্যন্ত এক!

কে আপনি?” বাধ্য হয়ে জিজ্ঞেস করলাম।

আবার সেই গা-পিত্তি জ্বালানো হাসি। সামনে থেকে শুধু স্বর শুনতে পেলাম, “হ্যাঁ, আপনারই গাড়ি।আচ্ছা, আমি হাসলেও কি এতটাই অখাদ্য দেখতে লাগে?

আমি আবার চোর! চোর!” বলে চ্যাঁচালাম, কিন্তু লক্ষ্য করলাম যে বাইরের কারুর চোখে পড়ছে না; এমনকি চিৎকারও কারুর কানে যাচ্ছে না।

মোড়ে লালবাতি দেখে আশা জেগেছিল, কিন্তু তারপর চোখের সামনে সব সিগনাল আস্তে আস্তে নিভে গেল; রাস্তা ক্রমশঃ অন্ধকার হয়ে উঠল; লক্ষ্য করে দেখলাম চারপাশের গাড়িটাড়ি সব মিলিয়ে গেছে, কোনওরকম সাড়াশব্দ আসছে না আর; শুধু কয়েকটা ল্যাম্পপোস্ট টিমটিম করে জ্বলছে।

হাত-পা ঠাণ্ডা হয়ে এল। ট্যাক্সি কিন্তু দুর্নিবার গতিতে এগিয়ে চলেছে, আর সে যে কোথায় যাচ্ছে তার বিন্দুবিসর্গও বুঝে উঠতে পারছি না।

অনেক ঘুরেটুরে একটা গলিতে এসে ঢুকল। রাস্তায় আলো না থাকলে বুঝতেই পারতাম না যে গলিটা কানাট্যাক্সি কিন্তু নির্বিকার সে এগিয়ে চলেছে রাস্তার শেষের দেওয়ালটার দিকে

লাফিয়ে নামতে গিয়ে দেখলাম দরজা কোনও এক অজ্ঞাত কারণে বন্ধ। এমনকি জানালার কাঁচও নামানো অসম্ভব। স্পষ্ট বুঝতে পারছি ধাক্কা লাগলে মারাত্মক দুর্ঘটনা অনিবার্য, কিন্তু বোকার মত দেখা ছাড়া আর উপায় নেই।

সামনের সিটটা চেপে ধরলাম, কিন্তু চোখ সরাতে পারলাম না দেওয়ালটার থেকেট্যাক্সিটা এগোতে লাগল, একদম কাছে, তারপর... তারপর... ধাক্কা... অসম্ভব যন্ত্রণা...

***

পকেট থেকে লাইসেন্স আর ট্যাক্সির পারমিট বের করে মিলিয়ে দেখলামসব ঠিক আছে। স্টার্ট দিলাম। আজ দেড়হাজার টাকা না উঠলে কপালে দুঃখ আছে।

ঐ যে, সামনে প্যাসেঞ্জার।

নতুন প্যাসেঞ্জার উঠে (বোধহয় নম্বরটা দেখেই) আমার কাঁধ খামচে চোর! চোর!” বলে চিৎকার করে উঠল।

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Predicting Chetan Bhagat's next book title: the aftermath

The news made its way to my brains in the same way USB drives refuse to made their ways into the respective ports: Chetan Bhagat himself, no less, had tweeted my previous blog post. Here is proof:



See? See? I did not lie.

There are three questions that came to my mind the moment I came across the tweet:
1. Why does he refer to himself in the third person?
2. Why is he respectful to me in his tweet?
3. Why does he find the post seriously geeky?
Let us find out.

1. Why does Mr Bhagat refer to himself in the third person?

Indeed, why? He could have easily tweeted "polynomial models to predict the number in my upcoming book titles". Here is why:

Mr Bhagat is actually Julius Caesar. As we have seen from William Shakespeare's epic (which was spoofed brilliantly by René Goscinny) centuries later, Caesar had developed the rather unusual habit of referring to himself in the third person.

Thus, if he is stabbed, do not be surprised if his immediate reaction is "Et tu, cute?"

PS: I will not get many chances to pay my homage to three legends in one go. Here is to Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare, and René Goscinny — men who have, and will continue to stand the test of time — from The Mansions of the Gods. 



2. Why is he respectful to me in his tweet?

This one was tricky. Indeed, there was no valid reason for him to shower respect on me. He is a living legend, while I am a mere mortal — a blogger languishing in obscurity.

Why me, Mr Bhagat? Is it because you are humble? You are an IITian, which means that you could fit polynomials just like that (this is when I snapped my fingers).

I thought and thought hard: what message was he trying to send across?

Then it hit me, and hit me as hard as an ONIDA TV hits a hummingbird when the ONIDA TV flies and the hummingbird doesn't. You get the point.

Respect is, obviously, an anagram for sceptre. A sceptre demands respect. Of course, being Julius Caesar — being the undisputed king of Indian English literature — commands respect and demands a sceptre. That was the message he was trying to send across.

3. Why does he find the post seriously geeky?

It takes some average knowledge of polynomial-fitting and Excel tricks to do what I was doing. What was "seriously geeky" about it?

Was he paying respect to me? As we have found out, that is not the case; it was, of course, a reference to the post. Had I screwed up somewhere?

Then I recalled how Matthew Inman — creator of The Oatmeal had once defined geeks:

In other words, geeky = not screwing. Hence, by calling my post "seriously geeky" (I promise this is is the first time I have come across those two words together) he had actually been cryptic, complimenting that I had not screwed up with my calculations.

I'm honoured, Mr Bhagat. You have touched another soul and have set it free. You veni, vidi, vici (yes, I know I am speaking in first person, but that is how good my Latin is).

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Predicting Chetan Bhagat's next book title



Chetan Bhagat is back, much to the joy of his fans and dismay of his critics, with his new masterpiece. It was expected that the title of the new book would contain a mere natural number, but Mr Bhagat had decided to take things to a different echelon by introducing a fraction: HALF.

This got me thinking: Chetan Bhagat, the doyen of Indian writing in the new millennium,  how does one predict the number the legend associates with his books?

I started off with the six numbers. Obviously 2020 skewed things significantly, but it was still a doable thing, thanks to Somnath's extraordinary knowledge of MS Excel (I cannot believe how much out of touch I am these days!). I decided not to complicate things and stick to a 6-degree polynomial instead.



Year Prefix N Suffix
2004
5
Point Someone
2005
1
Night @ The Call Centre
2008
3
Mistakes of My Life
2009
2
States: The Story of My Marriage
2011 Revolution
2020

2014
0.5
Girlfriend

This, in a nutshell, is what the list of book looks like. Look at how 2020 stands out amidst 5, 1, 3, 2, 0.5 (1/2). Let us fix the polynomial, then:


As is evident, this has been skewed significantly by 2020. Let us try to fit a 6-degree polynomial and check the results.

But then, Revolution 4 would not have a similar impact, since few are acquainted with the goings-on in the year 4 AD. And, as we know, Mr Bhagat, being the Voice of Young India, does not believe in facts from ancient times. Young India can be quite impatient at times: they may end up losing their voice and charging him an outrageous invoice, as an outcome of which hawkers may end up not selling his books to unsuspecting auto-rickshaw commuters ("serious books", anyone?).

We know that history (and being respectful to others' sentiments) is not Mr Bhagat's forte. For example, in this article on The Times of India, he has hurt the crushed of many an honest cinema-lover, myself included. But that is another story, and Greatbong has done such a wonderful work of it that it is not worth another go. Most importantly, it is not the topic of this article.


The equation does not look too good (once again, accommodating 2020 had made a mess of it). Despite that, we will use it to predict the number Mr Bhagat will use in his upcoming book.

Before beginning, however, there are a few disclaimers I should make:


Note:
1. This is not the best possible (but perhaps the easiest) way.
2. I had not been taught to predict numbers used in book names at any level of my non-illustrious academic career.
3. The number will depend on the year of release.

We have already got the polynomial, but the curve looks abysmal. It will not require a mathematician to predict that it will take a headlong plunge as I cross 2014 and move into the zone of the relative unknown.


What to do, then? Will using logarithms help? Let us check.

Year PrefixN Suffix Log N
2004
5
Point Someone
1.60944
2005
1
Night @ The Call Centre
0
2008
3
Mistakes of My Life
1.09861
2009
2
States: The Story of My Marriage
0.69315
2011 Revolution
2020

7.61085
2014
0.5
Girlfriend
-0.69315

This does not look too bad. Let us fit another polynomial now.


Not too bad, but as before, the dip is apparent. It does indeed seem that the number Mr Bhagat uses (if his new book comes out in 2015 or 2016) will be a very, very small value, almost close to zero. In fact, the later will it come out, the smaller the value.

There is nothing very wrong with this, though, given the fact that Mr Bhagat is an IITian and definitely has a penchant for numbers, big or small. Maybe the Voice of Youth would want to be remembered as The God of Small Things after his new book, which may hit the market sooner than we think.

Not too promising for the highest-grossing author of our times, is it not? It is not as bad as it looks like, though, since we have been taking logs.

The intersection point for 2015 is -50, which means that a book released on that particular year is 
e^(-50) 
or 
(1.93 x 10^(-22)) 
or
0.0000000000000000000001928749848

For people living in a domain too high for small numbers, this is a value that can be considered very, very close to zero. In other words, the name would contain the number 0.

***

I am not finished yet, though. Does the number 2020 not sound a bit off-track? What if Mr Bhagat did not want it to be part of the series? What if we drop the number and calculate the trend? The number is big enough — in the same way that Mr Bhagat himself is — to be considered an outlier. Let us check:


The value for 2015 now (yes, yes, I know there is no reason why I should consider a polynomial a best fit here) is
e^7
or
1096.633158
or approximately
1097, which seems a reasonable number to become a part of a book. One can only will hope it will make its way to the leagues of 1984, Farenheit 451, or One Hundred Years of Solitude. All these seem reasonable names for a book that, like its illustrious predecessors, will go on to change the face of the country, especially the youth. 

***

Moral of the story?

If you include Revolution 2020, the future of the series is zero. In other words, if you think the books involve revolutionary material in the series, you may be headed for a huge zero.

***

So, what are your guesses for the name of the upcoming pathbreaker?

***

PS: I had felt helpless without access to SAS and R. Then I called Somnath, and he taught me a thing or two about MS Excel. A huge thanks to Somnath, without whom this post would have been delayed or, worse, not been written.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pick-ups

Disclaimer: The idea is not an original one. It is loosely based on a cartoon I had come across a few days back on Facebook, so please do not mention that in the comment.

***

He stood in the dark, next to the swimming pool, gripping the expensive glass filled with auburn liquid with the whitest and finest of gloves. He sighed. He did not like crowds, but this was a masquerade he could not avoid.

Her masked face did not give away her identity, but the braids that failed to exert any sort of control on her waist-long curls did to people who had seen her once.

She was one of her kind. But so was he.

They had both been adept at mesmerising people of the opposite sexes. They had swept them off their feet; they left parties and pubs with their targets in anonymous taxis; the victims were never found again.

Everybody knew them. But then, so did nobody.

She measured up the males in the room: she was almost bored; she did not even seem to be as much as casting a glance at them; in a way she was like a big cat on the prowl, smelling her way through the expensive perfumes and suits to find her victim for the night.

He preferred to stand alone, waiting for women to come his way. He had almost got bored picking up young, unsuspecting women, but he still got a kick out of touching warm flesh till it turned cold, very cold, almost frozen; he loved the sight of horror that lingered on to the women’s eyes for hours after they had been stabbed.

Was it he who sensed her presence first, or was it him? It does not really matter.

It did not matter. She knew she had found him; and he knew this was her. Things were getting a bit mundane, both of them thought. It is time for a challenge.

He made his way towards the light, ensuring she had a clearer view of hers. She almost looked up at him, her crimson lips pouting in the way that had never failed in driving men mad.

“Can I get you a drink, mademoiselle?” she shivered slightly at the richness of his voice; there was something in the tone that had always made women go wobbly in their knees. She was not an exception. Almost.

She nodded. This is going to be fun, she thought as she saw him put down his glass and disappear towards the counter.

***

The taxi made its way through the busiest of streets to one of the busiest streets in town. She had agreed to accompany him to his place. A smile curled on her face.

She preferred it this way. Kill the victim at his den: ransack his house to find the right instrument to eradicate any proof; walk out in the wee hours of the morning and walk her way back, her head light, her heart pounding, her blood smouldering; it was the perfect way.

He preferred it this way too. Kill her at his residence; feel the flesh throughout the night; take care to eradicate all proof the following morning. It helped that he stayed alone.

At the same time, they could not help but feel differently for each. It was different this time. There was a sense of attraction neither of them had sensed before. It was not erotic: they had crossed the limit of eroticism ages back; nothing less than death interested them.

She was furious with herself when her small hands almost melted into his gloves. What is wrong with you?

He was livid with himself as well when her perfume made him crave to bury his nose in her rippling hair. Be firm.

The taxi-driver thanked him for the change and left.

***

The stone mansion stood in its vast greyness, almost outrageously in a locality with houses that resembled colourful little boxes. She smiled. She liked the feel of stone.

He’s my kind, she thought.

Is cannot be a coincidence that our names are so similar, he thought.

***

It seems like a castle. Do they still make houses like this?

The chandelier lit up at the flick of a switch, bathing the humongous hall in dazzling light; she did not flinch; trivialities did not affect her anymore. He did not notice her indifference.

He poured out crimson liquid in two goblets that were probably made of brass. Despite her expensive tastes she had never seen wine breathe in anything but glass:  this was new to her; she nearly disliked it.

He finished his goblet in a single gulp. She pretended to look away, but could not suppress a smile.

They kissed. He had taken his mask off, but she had not; so she’s a tease, he thought; if only she knew...

His hungry lips made their way to her near-bare shoulders; it was the first time a man had made her moan in ages; his teeth brushed her neck with an expertise she had never felt before; a shiver ran down her spine as she could feel his tongue inside her ear, whispering nothings at the same time.

Why does he not take the gloves off?

The straps fell off, revealing her inadequate brassiere. I’m getting weak, she thought. This cannot go on. I do not want to have sex. I want him dead. Let us get done with this.

He was too busy to think; thin fabric of his gloves was so thin that she could almost feel his fingernails running along her spine; she shuddered; he felt her shudder.

This was not what I had brought her here for, he thought.

Kill her.

Kill him.

The struggle seemed to be eternal. She squirmed in ecstasy; his frantic fingers made their way through the elegant gown that had hugged her body for so long, letting it drop on the floor.

She groped for something. She was not even sure of what she groped for, but she did nevertheless. He went down; her slim waist hungrily clutched in his grip, feeling her left hand hold the silken mass of his hair.

Now or never.

Now.

***

Midas took his gloves off to touch her with his bare hands; he looked up to see her transform; it was then he saw Medusa, her mask clasped in her right hand, staring back into his eyes.

***

Here is the cartoon, if anyone is interested. Thanks, Mlvk.

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