Category Archives: Cafe Diaries…

Cafe Conversations: Murder, Karma & Morality

Scene: 3 friends at a cafe.

Characters: Sonya sits on the sofa, hair pulled up in a bun, dressed in white cotton top and loose pants, feet up on a chair.

Avinash lounges low in an armchair, and frowns at Sonya across the table, mulling over their conversation.

Jai sits next to Avinash, struggling to understand the conversation.

dark-forest-night-image


Jai (to Sonya): So, you’re telling me that even if you murder some poor innocent chap, you know, take his life… then just because you don’t have a conscience, you’ll get away with it?

Sonya: I’m not talking legally here. Ethically, yes.

Jai: But why should you get away with it? Murder is wrong; it’s the highest degree of evil. You’d be taking someone’s life.

Sonya: Assuming that I am able to carry out the perfect murder, you know, one where I take care of the body, and no one ever finds me. Then if I have absolutely no guilt, what happens to me?

Avinash: I’m sorry; these are just a lot of assumptions. We have a legal system in the first place, to punish wrong-doers and to make sure there is free will. One person does not have the right to take another person’s life, and he should be punished. As simple as that.

Sonya: Free will? (Snorts loudly) There is no such thing as free will.

(speaks agitedly, waving her hands) When you’re a child, they preach you these things, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’, or, ‘Anything you set your mind to, if you work hard for it, you will get it.’ So naïve! Humans have always believed that on a specie level, they are free. That their actions are resuts of their own grasp over the way they should lead their lives. But that in itself is such a micro, narrow and yet a superior sense perception to this gift of life.

You know what, let’s NOT get into that argument.

Jai: Save it for another day. Coming back to this murder discussion, my point is, I believe in Karma. So even if you, Sonya, are really a perfect-murderess who has us all fooled with your charm and personality – (Sonya takes a mock bow) – someday, you’ll have something bad coming your way. It’s the universe’s way of setting things right.

(Waiter comes up with their coffees)

Avinash (squinting at Sonya): I can just see it. I bet she already has bodies stuffed into the water duct on the terrace of her building – no wonder that place has creepy noises at night. It’s haunted!

(The waiter throws them all bewildered looks and goes off)

Jai: I agree. She’s devilishly deceptive, plus there have been nights when no one knows where she was and she wasn’t home…

(Jai goes into his dramatic zone)

So one day… she just gives in to all her pent-up, dark, evil, angry, twisted thoughts… puts on some scary, gothic makeup, stashes her gun in her…uh…

Avinash (with big eyes): Where? Where DO you stash your gun, Sonya?

(Sonya rolls her eyes at him)

Sonya (laughing): Look. Karma is just correlating good things against bad things that have happened to you. Maybe the bad things were just bound to happen to you, like the result of a random probability distribution. And because of your conscience, you end up assuming that it was because of something you did!

Jai: That’s crazy! It’s just plain crazy to imply that Karma can affect only those with a conscience. Someone without a conscience is already a bad person – I say ‘bad’ because we seem to be assuming the world is split into ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things happening to us – but then, my point is, such a person, through his immoral character itself, is leading an unhappy life. A person cannot survive on committing evil deeds in society; even ethically, the very society he feeds on will make sure he pays.

Avinash (starts clapping): Well done, my friends. Both very good points. I half agree with both. But… I’m afraid I need proof. Proof, in the form of the highest degree of evil.

Jai (solemnly): I do have an acquaintance I wouldn’t miss terribly if he disappeared from the face of the earth. In fact, not a lot of people who would miss him… (looks at Sonya) I vote thee for this highly esteemed task…

Cafe Diaries!

I saw him the moment I walked into the café. He wasn’t hard to miss, as he sat alone at the table in the corner. He sat hunched over a sheaf of papers, a cigarette dangling from his lips. He wore a black leather jacket that fit him smugly. His hair stretched curly and unkempt towards his shoulders, and he grew a rough beard that gave him the overall appearance of a burly biker dude who rode into town only once in 6 months, and that too for a haircut and a shave. There was a cup of coffee on the table before him, and next to it, an ashtray with the stubbed ends of 3 cigarettes, and a music player with earphones plugged in.

As I walked in, he looked up and waved. He rose to give me a small hug, and as we sat back down, I noticed that he had looked a lot leaner, fitter in the pictures. I looked questioningly at the papers before him, and silently he shuffled back the pages and laid the bunch before me. It was Leonard Cohen. ‘You’ve read him?’ he asked me. I told him no, and he gave an inert smile. Before long, we were jumping from poets to authors to music to movies, and spoke of our shared love for Woody Allen movies, and Hank Moody.

Coffee & Cigarettes (2)

In between laughing over tales of drunken bar fights and shady dealings in drugs, he quietly asked me, ‘Tell me one significant event of your life in the past 5 years…’

And I replied, ‘My life began 3 months ago. I guess that is significant enough.’


He stared back at me impassively. His eyes bore into mine, and in his long, measured glance, I willed my eyes to pour out the story to him. Maybe they did, because finally he took a long drag on his cigarette, and his mouth turned up in a slow drawn-out smile. A smile that later left me wondering what it was that he read in my eyes. But in that moment, I knew he understood exactly what I meant.

coffee-conversations

For a long time, we both said nothing. He settled back, and lit another cigarette, with an expression that meant he was done asking the questions, and that it was my turn. His demeanor was so relaxed it made me fidgety. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and racked my brains to come up with a topic of conversation. There were so many things I wanted to ask him. So many topics to touch upon.

I was getting the sense that he was there, where one day I would hope to be. I tried to imagine a younger version of him, new to the city, all boyish innocence and bursting with optimism. It was difficult to believe that a guy like him would have ever been innocent. And yet I was sure some years back his story had begun similar to mine. I wondered what his story was. Failure? Heartbreak? All great stories begin with a setback.

“I… I want to understand life.” I blurted out, frustrated.

“Have you ever fucked a guy?”

I pretended not to be shocked at his bluntness. He smirked and said, “Until you have, you will not have known life.” As simple as that.