Dev closed his eyes. They were paining. And why shoudn’t they. He had been sitting in front the computer for 6 hours. It was nearly dawn. Nearly sunrise. Nearly another new day. The birds knew it. They had started chirping, getting ready for another tryst with destiny. Flapping their wings, getting their muscles warm. For a flight of uncertainty.
To find food in the city below. To survive another day. And to make sure they remained alive to wake up again.
Dev got up from his chair and walked out to the verandah. From his 7th floor nest , he surveyed the city below. Just like the birds. He had to go hunting today. But there was a small difference. He did not know what he had to hunt. Because he did not know what he wanted. Actually, on second thoughts, it was a big difference.
Dev had everything. A job. A flat. A car. A girl. A computer. A music system. A washing machine. A maid to cook and clean. And no family to bother him. Wow. That was freedom. But he was a hunter. And like the tiger who hunts more that he needs. Dev had to keep on hunting. And funnily. He was a Leo.
His hunt started the day he walked out of school and into college. Coming out the double silk cocoon called family and school he walked into the real life. Where you had to hunt all the time. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Actually every second.
Gone were the school gates which seemed like prison gates, but where actually likes shields. Gone was the driver driven car every time he had to travel out of his home. Or the old trusted servant who would put a leach to shame every time he walked with him on the streets.
He was thrust into the world. And he started hunting. Like a fish in water. From the empty seat on the crowded bus to a little space on the footboard of its only door. From the girls with cute smiles to the ones with cuter cleavages. From the senior who would initiate him into grass and booze to the ones who knew the exam questions. From the counter space in the club bar, to the hot steamy books in its library.
Gradually, the single dimensional world began to rotate. And new dimensions were visible everyday. Some great. Some terrifying. But the one, which he loved the most was college. It was simply great. It gave him the freedom to spend, without the difficulty to earn. The opportunity to learn with the freedom to bunk classes. The space to make friends with the thrill of drooling on what lay below some of the skirts.
As the intricacies of life spread out before him, Dev realized the truth in the ancient adage he had read somewhere . No pain , no gain. During his time as a child, the pain was single dimensional. It was one of not getting what he wanted. And it disappeared soon as he always got something. The now the pain was really different. And it was the continuous nagging one, which was like his shadow. It was the pain of choosing. And the modern adage was becoming truer day by day. Unlimited wants, limited means. Four innocuous words that Dev had come across though out by a pretty boring economist called Adam Smith. But it was so true.
Dev came came into the room and let his body collapse into the bed. He shut his eyes. Maybe he didn’t want to hunt today. He had those days. When he just remained at home. Floating in bed. Doing nothing actually. Getting up to flip the cassette in his deck. Or relieve himself. Or to open the door for the delivery boy with his lunch or dinner. But one thing was definite. No hunting. He liked those days. Because it was an off day from hunting. And it refreshed him to start hunting the next day.
The alarm arrowed into his ears. He cursed those guys who invented this shrill noise, which injured your ears. He was about to knock of the alarm when he remembered. Today was the day. Oh sh*t he said and woke up. Today was the day which could change his life. Actually it would change the way he lived. A paradigm shift. He would stop hunting and start living.
It had been planned. Planned in detail. With high doses of rationality, cold logic and whatever he had learned in the business school he had battled through. It was laced with the common sense he had picked up in his 10 years of successfully climbing the corporate ladder. It was a cleverly conceived big idea which would dramatically alter Dev’s life. He wanted to live. He was tired of hunting.
The big idea was simple. As all big ideas are. Starting from harnessing fire, inventing the wheel, agriculture, money, e=mc2, windows to hotmail. Very simple. So was Dev’s.
And it was luck. He had bought a Super lottery’s ticket. The booty was 6.5 crores.
Dev had also planed out exactly how we would reach there. Twelve steps to the door. Pick up the newspaper stuffed through the door with his left hand. Swivel on his left heel and jump into the kitchen. Brew a cup of coffee. Walk backwards to the verandah with a cup of coffee and the English paper in his hand. Put them down on the table and light up a cigarette, which had been kept there last night.
Dev did everything. He was very clinical in whatever he had to do. Stubbing the cigarette he picked up the newspaper, this time with his right hand. Opening page three, he started reading from the first word in the first column. The Lottery results were always at the right hand bottom corner. But he would read them after he had read every other printed word in the page.
He knew that this was it. It was like Pele, when he was rushing to knock in the ball to win Brazil the World cup. It was like Hillary, few steps away from the top of the world. It was like Armstrong as he climbed down the steps of his space ship. It was like the mother, the moments before her newborn started wailing. It was like Gandhi, the seconds before India became free. It was like Einstein, the moments before he added the square to the c.And the list goes on.
Dev was there, nearly there. He had reached the Jackpot number. He pulled out the ticket, which he had kept with him for the day he bought it.The numbers started to match. First the 6. Then the 13 , 19 and 30. He was two numbers away. Strangely , Dev’s heart was not pumping. He was totally cool. He knew it was his moment. The last number he had chosen was 39. And it was 39 in the paper. Dev had won 6.5 cores. Yes. He had.
He put down the paper. Lit a cigarette. His mind was racing. He was very happy. Very very happy.The he let it slip. He let 6.5 cores slip down from the seventh floor towards the city. The real city which was his hunting ground. He had always planned it this way. He would win the jackpot and let it slip away. And that would stop him hunting and let him live.