fiction

MY SCRIPTED LIFE

Sometimes when I get bored, I wonder if someone came up with such a dull screenplay where I am cast as a mundane character. The writer is doing terrible storytelling, making me not experience any happiness, sadness, anger, exhilaration, anxious, romance, and whatnot. Your average ‘do the same things daily’ Manasbi. Even right now, the blog post that you are currently reading might be the manifestation of thoughts of a terrible screenwriter and my brain, the director of the mess, forcing me into acting a clichéd character. I do not even know the motive behind the blog post, but here I am doing it regardless.

For your clarity, I do not believe that any superior beings are controlling every action that we do. If that were the case, they would not allow the lousy screenwriter to pen a flop movie even though the actor (me, of course!) is of a high caliber. It is like shooting last year’s ‘The Mummy’ film—although Tom Cruise starred, the story was of the lowest quality. So, whomever the screenwriter is, I will have no mercy. The movie won’t earn any profits.

Let’s get a rundown of what I do every day: wake up, poop, take shower, brush, have breakfast, go to work, work, work, work, lunch (wait, what was that work all about??), work, work, work, work (apparently, I do nothing but work throughout the day, huh? Where’s the logic in that Mr. Screenwriter?), finish work (finally, wow. You left it late, Mr. Screenwriter!), go home, arrive home, code for a bit (Edit from the screenwriter: “He codes at work too, oopsie ☹”), have dinner, sleep, read manga (Edit from the screenwriter: “His favorite genre right now is shoujo, maybe because he has not experienced any romance yet, hahaha.”), watch anime (only good thing you have done in this boring story, Mr. Screenwriter.), sleep (finally! That’s why I sleep at work, huh?). Then, the cycle repeats every day.

In an alternate reality, I imagine being the lead actor of a movie directed by Christopher Nolan and screen played by Jonathon Nolan. The duo would do justice directing my biopic even though there’s a possibility that the story is clichéd (Don’t worry, I cannot have a gripping account). The story would have climax, a bit of romance (no tsundere please, Mr. Nolan), some sad backstory, dream within dreams. Wait a minute. I feel déjà vu. Am I not in a dream within the dream of the annoying screenwriter right now? I could be the side character in Dark Knight Trilogy (I know, this is supposed to be about me being the main character, but I can be content getting at least a role in Batman movie. Just let me live the time of my life! Wait, why I am just blabbering and imagining an unimaginable scenario. I swear this Mr. Screenwriter will be dragged to Hell if it exists.

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Teasing the screenwriter

Anyways, I digressed a lot. Sorry about that as it is not under my control. I am seeking justice as the main character. You may be wondering: what does this have to do with me? Well, you are right to some extent. You are not the main character in this story, and it hurts. I know the feeling (side role in the Batman movie). You need to realize, as side characters, that your primary purpose is to enhance the beauty of the main character and strengthen his motivations in the film. Also, when my biopic premiers after I die, will you want to be someone who did not have any impact on my life? You absolutely would not. Alternatively, you would (Edit from the screenwriter: “Hmm. Never thought I would have fans who enjoy his misery. Huhaahaha”). Some of you may have wanted to be a part of my family, some as my best friends (I still don’t have any best friends. They are all good friends 😊). Some may vie to be the lead actress (Edit from the screenwriter: “Don’t be carried away by his wishful thinking. He is destined to be alone forever. Hahahahahaha.”). Some may want to crush my dreams as the main villain. Some may want to be my teachers (I need to be inspired, right??). The point is that you want to be part of something bigger and hence my captivity in this annoying as hell story should matter to you.

The screenwriter and I have not found any common grounds to make peace as he forces me to act these boring scenes. I do not get breaks during the making of the movie. I do not get paid as a lead actor (Edit from the screenwriter: “You will only get paid after the movie completes, FYI”). I am always tired. I just wished Mr. Screenwriter would have introduced some exciting elements to my boring life. For example, traveling around the world in 80 days, experiencing getting on roller coaster, visiting Raftel and Emirates Stadium, meeting my soulmate (Edit from the screenwriter: “Why does he only think about getting a girl, huh? I introduced him to too many shoujo mangas it seems.”) and so on. I try to stay positive but in vain.

Ah, I have the spidey sense that Mr. Screenwriter has finally run out of ideas. All his criticisms have been exposed in this short post. He must be feeling sorry for creating an annoying main character (Edit from the screenwriter: “I am enjoying, to be honest. Think about it, you guys (the readers) never experienced a lead character this boring right?”). I still feel Mr. Screenwriter should have gone to a reputed journalism school to hone his creative writing skills (Edit from the screenwriter: “For the first time in my life, I agree with my main character.”). Now, you have already noticed that the screenwriter is writing stupid comments often in the last few sentences. His creativity levels have dropped in such a short time. Wow. Booooooooooooooooo, Mr. Screenwriter. You get what you deserve.

If this is not proof that a boring screenwriter writes my boring life, then I don’t know what is!

(Edit from the screenwriter: “The entire monologue is purely a work of non-fiction. It matches the life of Manasbi. Any resemblances to the character are intentional. Devilish laugh intensifies).

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THE SADNESS IN HER SMILE

There she was. Taking a seat beside the window. Looking outside at the green field around the campus. Casually tucking her hair behind her ear. Then, I saw it. Her radiating smile. Something did not feel right.  Something was not right. I felt as though there was sadness in her smile.

The first time I realized the girl was in my class was when the teacher called out her name. None of the boys had seen her. Yet the teacher continued to call out her name. She seemed lost whenever she was asked questions. Lost in her own world. Lost in her own thoughts. I felt as though she did not want to be a part of this society.

Other girls had ostracized her as they tended not to hang out with a gloomy girl as it made them look uncool in the eyes of us, the boys. There was nothing dull about the girl. She was always smiling. Not wanting to care about others’ business. She would eat her lunch alone at the back of the building, away from everyone’s eyes. No one wondered why. After all, everyone had their own circle of friends to share the lunch with.

Sometimes, students in my class would tease her and talk about her loneliness, her solitudes, especially the girls. The boys would not care about her, wanting to stay away from her as they strived to be the good boys in every girl’s eyes. I was the quiet one. I would watch the events unfold yet scared to act on my own. The girl would care less. For her, it was just another ordinary day.

The taciturn girl only answered when a teacher questioned her. Her answers were short. Perhaps she was minimizing her presence in the class. Maybe she did not seek attention.

Stories of her shouting to the teachers during her middle school were always circulating. In an angry tone, the girl would shout “Just go away! Leave me alone.” Everyone knew then that the girl was weird. Weird because she was talking to herself. No one would talk to themselves. That was unheard of. That was like losing sanity. No sane people would do that. Slowly, everyone who used to speak with her distanced themselves from her.

Perhaps the girl has her version of the shouting. Maybe she sees things that ordinary people cannot see. Perhaps she cannot comprehend the appearance of these characters. Maybe she fears them as any human would be when they see something incomprehensible. Perhaps she cannot share her secrets because nobody would believe her.

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 Let the tears flow, Tsukuyo… (Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash) 

The girl was an orphan. She never knew what happened to her parents. Nobody knew. Not even her relatives. Her relatives would rotate in taking care of her; however, she would be quickly abandoned. She was like a toy which got passed around all the kids who came to a party. No toy survives the wrath imposed by the toy handler. At the end of the party, the toy would lose a limb or two or lose some of its appearances.

The girl would cry endlessly. The foster parents would beat her to lessen her beatings. They would notice tantrums surrounding her. The girl was weird. The foster parents did not want neighbors to backbite about their decisions to keep the odd girl. It just happened that this school was the girl’s tenth school meaning she had been raised by ten different parents who never loved her like their child.

The girl had experienced it all. The beatings that she got throughout her life left a deep scar in her mind. She started to smile when she was beaten. She started to smile when her classmates made fun out of her. She started to smile when someone hid her shoes from her locker. She started to smile when she got hate letters hidden in her books. She started to smile when the teachers asked if anything was wrong with her. She had convinced herself that she couldn’t be saved. That is telling all of this to someone will do nothing good for her. She had lost hope. She had lost a purpose in life. She just wanted to end it once and for all.

The smile covered her sadness. The smile kept away all the sufferings she endured during her stay at various foster parents’ homes. The smile washed away the tears that should have flown down her face. The smile was her only friend. The smile was the truth she could not hide from anyone, but nobody noticed it. Nobody had ever cared or will ever care for the girl.

Maybe the girl needs one person who believes in her. Maybe she needs me. Maybe she will be open to me. Maybe if she knows my secret, I can know about hers.

“Hi, Tsukuyo. I know your secret.” The girl did not respond to what I was saying.

“I also see the same things as you. I understand the pain you have endured. I am sorry…” I began to remember the trauma that I went through in middle school. The same trauma Tsukuyo had endured. You see, I had shared the same fate as she did. I had seen things that ordinary people would not see. I was scared every day. I was beaten whenever I told anyone about it. My friends distanced themselves from me. When Tsukuyo was shouting weirdly in her class, I was screaming in a different school.

As I began to remember the intense emotions of loneliness, hatred, and distrust from my middle school days, I started to sob hopelessly. I had forgotten for a while that the girl was there. I had forgotten why I was there. Then I remembered again—I did not intend to see a girl suffer ever again; I wanted to protect her.

“I am sorry, Tsukuyo. I never helped you. I did not bring myself to defend you even when I knew the trouble you had with your foster parents or the bully you faced in the school.” My sobbing intensified.

“I am sorry for not being there for you. I am sorry. I.. I.. I.. I am soooorrryyyyy…..”

Tsukuyo was unresponsive to what I was saying. How can she open to someone who just arrived a few minutes ago? She had never known me. For her, I was just another boy in the class who never had conversations with her. I knew it was hard for my words to reach the depths of her clouded mind. After all, she had long closed the door for anyone to be with her.

“Hear me out Tsukuyo.

Weep and ask for help. Lean on me with your runny nose.

Cry when you feel like crying. Laugh when you feel like laughing.

When you’re tearing up with an ugly face, I’ll give you a good cry with an uglier face.

When you’re laughing so hard your stomach hurts, I’ll laugh in a louder voice. That’s how it should be.”*

Then, I saw Tsukuyo cry for the first time.

“Vyou are the vfirstt versun to ebba sapporrt me.” For the first time, I heard the girl talk.

Tsukuyo had her hands cover her face as she continued to cry. Was she forcing herself to smile even when she should be crying? I could not confirm. Had her crying cleansed of all pain she had endured? I did not know. Had she opened to me? There was no way of knowing. I didn’t blame her. Maybe this was the first time that someone understood her pain. Perhaps she never had a friend to share grief with. Maybe she wanted to smile genuinely and not pretend her life had been in a mess.

I hoped she would start trusting me. I hoped to be the light brightening her day. I hoped she would never have to feel the loneliness again. I hoped everyone sees her laughing all again and notice how beautiful she always was. As I did some wishful thinking, I witnessed a miracle.

“Promise me that you will never leave me,” Tsukuyo said as she put her left hand on top of my right hand and smiled with tears on her face. She had opened her heart. For a moment, she trusted me, and I did not let go of this opportunity to protect her forever.

“I promise,” I said as I held her hand firmly. “Let’s share the burden together with our heads held high.”

Then, I wiped Tsukuyo’s tears promising never to let her tears flow again. Maybe this was because I wished never to see the sadness in her smile.

 

(* The entire dialogue is credited to Gintama, the popular Japanese manga. The dialogue is told by protagonist Sakata Gintoki to Tsukuyo as he hoped to share the burden she had been carrying from her young age.)

PS: This is my first attempt at telling a story with sad elements in it and I found it difficult to convey the sad emotions compared to the happy emotions that I am used to describing in previous posts. Hope you liked it. 🙂

AWAKENED: EPILOGUE

This is your 364th time since you first realized of your ability to come here.

364, huh?!

The same number that I used to identify myself in my alma mater. Brings back a lot of memories. Have I told you about the time when I got the last position in Cross Country or the time when I nearly drowned in the swimming pool or when…

Ah, come on. Not again.

Sorry, let’s forget about my alma mater coz I tend to go on talking about my experiences.

Yeah, that’s typical you. Hahaha.

So, how are you doing lately? Got something to hold onto.

Nah. Not since you left me. Although I won’t deny there will be something in the next few weeks.

Ah, so you have set your eyes on something precious.  

Yeah, it kinda surprised me when I found out. Forget about that, will ya? Tell me, honestly, have you been able to track her down?

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Who are these mysterious characters having an unusual conversation? Stay tuned. Don’t miss this new series.

Oh, her. I forgot about that. My bad. What if I said “yes”?

Maji de?! When was it?

Sunday, I think? Nah, Monday… Oh, wait. One week right after you left. Hmm. Just kidding.

(a long pause)

Hahaha. Do you know that you are the only one whom I can laugh with for a long time?

 Always the same reply. Isn’t it time for you to answer seriously? Why do you want to keep her away from me?

Keep her away from you? Stop fooling around. She’s not important. That’s all.  

Not important, you say? Then, why did you deliberately come here?

Look, who’s talking here. Trust me. Trust your friend.

Friend. Yeah. Once. A long time ago. Now, you are just a fleeting presence in the minds of everyone you had a connection with.

Such harsh words. I can bear it anyway.

Next time, you are gonna tell everything about her. I will make sure about that. (about to exit) See you, my …

(exits)

As for me, the journey to search her continues in this lonely place.

 

LAST MAN STANDING

Year: 3114 AD.

Location: Somewhere in Greater Himalayas

I write to you all as a time traveller of the 21st century. Not so in the distant future (21st century), I am able to build a time travelling machine. I then travelled to 31st century. Exactly to the year I am well connected to, 3064. Now, most of you are anticipating about the discoveries that mankind made in this century. If I were you, it would be tempting to read about them.

Now, 31st century is way, way, way, way, primitive. No typos there. Primitive. I guess it has to do with the catastrophic turn of events in the early 29th century that led the earth to completely change its landscapes. I have already been here for 50 years. However, it just feels like I landed here yesterday. In this entire time, I have not been able to meet a single human. I have travelled to far places that you guys now know as Antarctica, Arctic, Sahara Desert and even tried contacting the humans living in Mars but all in vain. You see, there’s no question that I am the last man standing here.

The reason I am writing to the 21st century folks is that I want to convince myself that there were people whom I had spent a significant chunk of my life with. Also, I want to avoid the possibility that I am alone in this world. That there existed an interesting species called humans. Sure, 31st century has given me no hope. Maybe dwelling in the past will ease my pain. I will continue to explore, though.

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“What else can I do than smile at the trees and ask if they can communicate with other tress in the world and tell if any humans exist?”

Haha, funnny thing is that the advances we so strived for in the 21st century took a U-turn in the 27th century when an ingenious scientist by the name of Langtang Caesar developed an immortal body made possible with the advances in picotechnology. After integrating nuclear and solar energies into it, his madness pushed the world at the brink of extinction. He demolished all the things that symbolized human. There are hardly any manmade sculptures of your day that you will see in this century. The era of artificial intelligence and centuries of war pushed some space organizations to send humans to space. God knows if they are still alive.

Every day, I wake up expecting someone to be here. Someone whom I can talk to. Someone whose existence will help me in deducing that mankind has not perished. I live in a small hut near Mt. Manaslu. Living near the hills was a bad idea. I could become a prey for the animals. Living near a mountain is not good either. The cold bursts of wind make me difficult to find foods. There are a few animals whom I can hunt confidently. I have to say, the knowledge of edible plants that I gained in the 21st century is the only thing that is still keeping me alive.

Normally, I have two meals a day. I have already lost a major portion of my weight. Life is hard here. Once every few months, I cross the Himalayas and go to China. From there, I make my journey into Europe. The deserted looks of many popular cities such as London, Munich, Paris, Vienna horrify me. Sometimes, I reflect back as a species of human and think about where we had gone wrong. Sometimes, I try to understand the raison d’etre of my life. I question about my journey. I reason with animals whom I cannot communicate with. No point in that. I get it. How do you expect me to deal with this situation then?

Oh, why am I crying at a time like this? Why does it feel so sad to write a simple letter? Wait, why am I even writing this? These are some questions that often come up. I try to suppress my emotions. Of course, I fail everytime. I just hope that one of these letters will find you. One of these will definitely be the turning point for mankind. One of these will convince me that I am not alone. That I am someone who is stranded in the distant future with the title “Last Man Standing”.

 

RELATING TO FICTIONAL CHARACTERS

Fictional stories exist in various forms with interactive media topping the list. We watch our superheroes battling against the villains who desire power to rule the world or a regular student who inspires his friends to make a difference in other people’s lives. After either watching the countless TV shows or reading them in books or newspapers, we tend to relate our lives to the fictional characters in those mediums. That, for most of us, is exciting and inspiring.

Over the last couple of months, I have finished countless anime shows and two real-life TV shows. Anime shows include Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Stein’s Gate, Cowboy Bebop, Ano Hana, Baccano, Ef-A Tale of Memories, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Garden of Words, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, 5 Centimeters Per Second and Parasyte. I have also finished most of the animated DC movies released after 2007 that revolves around Superman, Batman and the Justice League. Also, I am currently on the latest episodes of The CW’s Arrow and The Flash. Now, these shows have exposed me to a lot of characters whose lives have affected me in some aspect.

Characters from Death Note and Code Geass give perspectives of how powers were used by the main characters Yagami Light and Lelouch Lamperouge respectively in their attempts to rule the world. No other shows have matched the critical thinking skills than these ones. After finishing these shows, Code Geass helped me to realize that having brains was not enough. It was necessary to use powers for a noble cause. Well, unless you reach its final episode, you view Lelouch’s actions to be the same as Light’s actions and then bam, you would make sense about the sacrifices that was made till the last episode. I highly recommend watching these two shows as they completely blow your mind.

FMAB is all about the importance of having brothers by your side. The journey that two brothers take in order to cure the younger brother’s body with the use of alchemy is truly awe-inspiring. The short but intense battles that take place balance the flow of the show. Roy Mustang’s desire to dethrone King Bradley is nicely orchestrated.

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Characters from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Image Credits: http://static.minitokyo.net/ )

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Stein’s Gate are time-travel centered shows where the characters mess with time. This creates different timelines and the characters need to deal with the consequences of the Butterfly Effect. I highly rank Stein’s Gate as the best time travel show of all time. The lead protagonist Okabe Rintarou has to undo all of his actions in order to prevent both the deaths of his long-time friend Shiina Mayuri and his girlfriend Makise Kurisu. It teaches just how precious our relationships with other people are that when in times of crisis, we are in a dilemma to save a person at the cost of the other. In other words, it is all about preferences and hard choices. Are you ready to save your love for your long time friend or vice versa? Sometimes, we are left with a difficult question to name one person whom who we want to save between two persons whom we hold as the most important people of our lives. The show beautifully showcased the choice conundrum in terms of relationships and it made a lasting impression in my life.

Among all these shows, Ano Hana was the most emotional show that I had watched. It tells the story about six childhood friends who distanced themselves after one of them drowns in the river. It is set years after the incident happened when the ghost of the dead child roams until her promise is fulfilled. In case you are wondering if it is a ghost series, it is not. With just 11 episodes, the show has many eye watering moments. The desire to unite all of the distanced friends and share the ghost’s promise involves patience and belief that there is ghost among the friend circle. For most parts, the show reminded me how distanced our friend circle can get as we get older. It gave me chills about moving away from my friends and the lack of communication as a consequence. There are some friends whom I have not talked after high school. It is why I created a Viber group of over 30 friends where we communicate and stay in touch. For anyone who is moved by friendship stories and cannot handle serious emotions, this is a show worth watching. I am so obsessed with it that I can watch again and again. Just give four hours for it and you will become its huge fan.

I also loved the remaining shows equally. The point is that when we finish a show, we try to extrapolate the characters’ personalities into ourselves. We find that there is something missing in our lives or something that can fill the void. We take inspirations from them and move forward in our lives. Maybe we even long for the powers they have and pretend that they have effects in real lives. Maybe we even relate the difficult circumstances we once were in. Maybe the atmosphere that these characters are in bear some resemblance to our lives. In my case, I totally enjoy rumbling like Felicity Smoak, imagine processing my surroundings at a speed of attosecond just like Barry Allen does, try my best to think critically just as Light and Lelouch did, try not to time travel and not get into trouble like Rintarou and Makkoto Konno (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) and, not distance myself from my close friends just like Anohana portrayed. I don’t know why I involuntarily mimic the fictional characters from my favorite shows but one thing is certain-I am in love with it. In doing so I realize the power that these fictional characters can have in my life and it is awesome!

HEY THERE, 30s MANASBI!

Aanch jhilke, k chha yaar tero belaako zindagi? Chill haaniraaxas ta?

I am literally laughing right now because it’s too weird for me to write a letter to you. Yeah, you. You, moron! Now, where should I start?

Ahaa, how about what every one of my time asks to his 30s future self –Have you married? Love or arranged? Nepali or foreigner? Wait, what? You don’t want to answer! Are you shy? Haha, all right, all right. I did not mean to ask such personal questions (although me asking myself is not personal, duh). Where was I? I don’t intend to lose your interest in my banal talks.

Hah, ok, ok. I will get to the point. The most important thing I really wanted to ask was this one: Have you returned to Nepal? Because, right now, I had decided to return to Nepal after my graduation. Wait, you did not?? Then, ladies and gentleman, behold the clichéd answer that comes from my 30s mouth: “Times change, pal (with a typical Nripesh pose)… We are then forced to change.” Or “That time, we were kids. Now, we are adults. We don’t dream anymore.”

I suspect the following scenarios then: you got a job, well paid, maybe $1,000,000 per year (that’s huge Manasbi! No wonder, you are living a boring life. Hah, contradicted you, twake) or even more, found a girl, married, and then, lived happily ever after… Just like the ones we watched in Disney movies. Or, maybe Nepal banned you from entering the country because you stirred the internet with your radical views in your blog in a not-so-distant-future. Or, the worst case scenario…..you know what it is, right? I don’t want to think about it. I will leave it up to you.

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Hello on the other side…

So, do you remember when we talked to each other through the reflections in the mirror? You became the future guy and I talked on and on about countless stupid ideas. You would then comment on those ideas and extrapolate the efforts that I currently have in order to guess whether I will turn it into reality or not. A couple of those ideas included forming a tech company based in Pokhara with strong influence in Myagdi (our birth district), living the life that Phunsukh Wangdu lived at the end of 3 Idiots, earning US$s by outsourcing your CS talents and then pushing the Nepali communities to embrace tech in every aspect of their lives (besides the unlimited times they spend surfing to like statuses in FB or Twitter), and completely relying on solar power for your home or office (hopefully, you will have one).

We sure dreamed big. Those were the glorious days. Freedom, we had enjoyed. Well, we had promised to deliver the results (after all, we were heavily influenced by Elon Musk’s insane ideas and his craziness to make them happen). So, did you? Or, is it the money issue? Man, money is always there. But, did not we figure it out?

I don’t know how you are spending your life in your time. Just don’t follow what most people do. Get a job. Go to office at 8. Work until 5. Return home. Dinner. Sleep. Live life like a DC current. Mundane, pal. We had talked about it. We promised not to follow that path.

Does your era rely on TV?? Isn’t that obsolete? Isn’t it time to watch through goggles and with the use of holograms? Sounds interesting, if that is the case.  

Oh, I remember again. Did not we plan to fully utilize the lands we had in our village to modernize agriculture and hold Skype (provided it still is the first choice) with our office employees from our village? At the same time, work together with Mahabir Pun and advance Myagdi district!

When I think about those ideas right now, I firmly believe that they will one day be possible. I don’t know why I wanted to write to you. Your future is uncertain. Still, there is a part of me that still seeks answers to these questions and still a part of me that wants to encourage you to have an adventurous life.

Maybe you should go out and carry out our ideas if you have not been doing so. Get out, now. NOW. Don’t let family responsibilities or workloads impede your lively spirit. Be young. Come on, pal. Let this letter remind you how I look upon you. Be my hero. Push yourself. Influence other people’s lives. Only then will you be able to create a legacy among your countrymen. Isn’t that what you always wanted? Leaving a legacy behind. Isn’t that what you learned from Luffy, Naruto, Roger Federer and so on some ten years ago?

Waiting for your days….waiting…make me proud.

Yours Yourself,

Manasbi from 2015

PS: Ah, couple of extra things that I wanted to ask you. Has Arsenal won premier league titles? UCL? Who is your new lawn tennis best player as Federer had already retired by then? Who is your new favorite soccer player? As One Piece has ended already, did Luffy find the treasure? If yes, then how? What do you read in the manga these days?

WHY YOU MUST WATCH/READ ONE PIECE !

I am a cartoon/manga addict. It’s a truth that I have embraced and practiced throughout my life. The context of imagining life without dwelling on creative plots and a flurry of imaginative scenarios remains out of question for me. That is why I hate people who detest these series just because they are ‘cartoons’ and ‘shouldn’t be watched by grown ups’. I had compiled my top ten cartoons list in the initial stages of my blogging venture but had quite surprisingly failed to note the impact that One Piece has brought to my life. I affirm that the series comes close to other manga series such as Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail when it comes to popularity but, in my opinion, One Piece beats them.

One piece is about a devil fruit user named Monkey D. Luffy who with his rubber powers aims to be the Pirate King and be the rightful owner of ‘One Piece’, a collection of all the treasures that Pirate King Gold Roger had in his life and which was left at the end of the island called Raftel in the Grand Line. A pirate age enveloped the world when Gold Roger spoke of the treasure as his dying wish in Loguetown. Now, Luffy and his eight crew members, sail through the seas and into the mercurial Grand Line where they meet strange devil fruit users and challenge to battles and make their way forward.

The Straw Hats crew

                      The Straw Hats crew

Most of us categorize pirates as dangerous hooligans but Straw Hats are the antithesis of this. Adamant in his aim to pursuit One Piece, Luffy makes sure that every challenges are overcome by the crew no matter what. And that is the most captivating quality that the crew possesses. They are resilient and beat the hell out of monstrous pirates or the Navy whose sole aim is to capture all the pirates that are causing ruckus in the world. Be it the pirate who caused anarchy in Alabasta or the Shichibukai (warlord pirate) who has a penchant to steal shadows, Luffy and his crew make sure that the victims do not have to suffer like they have suffered before. In other words, they have a soft spot for people who have been terrorized by the evil doings of pirates or to some extent, even the Navy.

One Piece encapsulates the necessity to make amends to the society through the actions that Straw Hat pirates take on their course to achieve their separate aims. Zoro dreams to be the best swordsman, Nami ventures to map the whole world, Usopp aspires to be the sharpest shooter, Sanji is lured by the All Blue legend, Chopper decides to be the best doctor, Robin swears to study the world’s history and examine the 100 year void, Brook lives to fulfill the promise he made when he entered Grand Line, and Franky heats up to make his self-built ship reach the end of Grand Line. They all have different ambitions, but such is the stubbornness towards fulfilling their dreams that they don’t care if they have to cross any lines or fear that their wanted posters surge in their price. As an audience, it is very inspiring to push you towards your limits as the manga teaches you that nothing can stop you from fulfilling your dreams.

Most of the mangas (comics that are released in Japan) bear a common quality that echo the mentalities of their main characters and it is friendship. A quality that has been portrayed in such a compelling emotional gesture that it is hard to put down reading one if you start on a manga reading/watching spree. One Piece depicts friendship in a truly spectacular ways with scenes of betrayal, rescue missions from hell (Enies Lobby), and faith and trust towards the captain that it is impossible to go along with the emotional weight and shed tears in your face. In some of the scenes, you just can’t put an end to tears and have difficulty in muttering a single word. The emotions such as ecstasy, joy, faith, rage, outburst, and determination steal the show and the show just maintains this emotional level throughout the series without interrupting the anticipation that you have built since the last episode.

Characters that have appeared in One Piece. (Image credit: fanpop.com)

Characters that have appeared in One Piece.        (Image credit: fanpop.com)

When you are a big fan of anything, you want it to last forever. And One Piece does just that. The characters that Eiichiro Oda has created bring out more action scenes and the fight seems to never end. Straw Hats have built such a large circle of friends and enemies that you never get tired of guessing what would happen next. It is this very quality of One Piece that I believe edges out other manga series or even American cartoons. Right now, One Piece has crossed just over 50% of its story in its eighteenth year in print. An amazing feat considering the fact that many of the other manga barely cross fifteen years in print. For an avid fan like me, it makes a perfect sense as I can still relish the adventures of Straw Hat Pirates for the next ten years or even more than that.

For those of you who quite don’t know that such a manga/series existed, go google it or watch it or read it. And I bet it may turn out to be the best series (animated or non-animated) that you have ever experienced till date. When I told my friend Nimesh who was a die-hard Naruto fan that Naruto is nothing compared to One Piece, he had laughed at me. Now, he thanks me often for the entertainment that gets packed in reading/watching One Piece. So just grab a copy of One Piece and who knows that you will have a similar experience to share with me?

HAPPY ONE PIECE ADVENTURES WITH STRAW HATS!

THE TWO PEOPLE I MET IN HEAVEN

“It’s too early for you to come here, Manasbi.”

“Where am I?” I quizzed myself as I looked around the place but did not see any buildings in my field of vision.

“That is why I told you that you ought not to be here,” an old man who was at the entrance of the big gate shrugged off his shoulders.

“Excuse me, do I know you? You just called out my name.” I asked the gatekeeper.

“Uff. Another boring question. That’s what everyone asks me when they come here only for them later to realize that there’s a name tag around their neck to identify themselves,” the man said.

I looked down and there it was: my name tag. It had stated all my personal information but something in it caught my attention. It had stamped my death date!

“Hey, why is there a date of death in my tag?” I questioned.

“Coz you are dead, idiot. You just haven’t realized it yet.”

***

“Oh, there you are. We have been searching for over ten hours to meet you. It’s such a relief!” a voice echoed as I saw a silhouette of a young man and an old man in the distance. The clouds were so surreal and full of sparkle that it looked like Disney had embellished the place.

I moved towards the shadows. Every step that I took surged an anticipation of oneness. My breath grew heavy as everything that I heard earlier did not make any sense. It was just a while back that I was dating this blond girl in the cafeteria and I didn’t even have the faintest idea how I ended up here in such a small time frame.

“In case you are wondering, welcome to HEAVEN. Been a long time since we last met, huh, pal?” the figure in front of me greeted.

“Ap….aa…..rrr…..???!!!” I tried desperately to call out his name as I couldn’t believe I was meeting him here in heaven.

K chha Manasbi? Ahem, ahem,” I heard another shadow coughing in the distance as he slowly appeared in sight.

Hajurbua?!

I immediately reached for his foot as I took a blessing from my grandfather.

K chha tero haalkhabar?” my grandfather asked.

Thik chha. How did you guys know I was here?” I asked them.

“Come, we’ll take you to our residence,” Apar replied.

Well, I didn’t exactly know how the clocks of heaven worked and hence in no time I had reached my beloved grandfather’s and my friend’s residences.

“Manasbi, here’s the truth: you are dead!” Apar cleared the doubts in my mind.

“What are you saying?” I didn’t believe what he was saying.

“Let’s skip the details for a moment, shall we? Here, drink some water,” Apar said.

I slowly began to understand the lifestyle of the people living in heaven. My grandfather, for instance, sleeps five hours a day and then heads out for exercises everyday. He had already read most of the religious books that was available in the Heaven’s Library. Most of the time, he hanged out with his buddies and together, enjoyed their afterlives to the fullest.

As for Apar, he has made a routine to finish at least one book in a week and mostly indulges in watching Chelsea’s football games and Australian cricket as sources of entertainment. He also shared the happiness that he experienced when Australia were crowned the ICC World Cricket World Cup Champions of 2015 yesterday.

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“It was a one sided match, and now I can’t wait to watch Kolkata Knight Riders play in the IPL” my friend noted who always gave a good analysis of the games he watched. “You know, I met your grandfather when our Chill Out club organized a one day interaction to spend some amazing time with old people. After I asked a couple of questions and started knowing him, I found out that you were his grandson. And then we have been hanging out ever since.”

My grandfather had learnt to play chess from Apar and garnered some knowledge on football and cricket. He came twice to closely beating my professional friend.

“You know, sometimes we play the paper cricket that we often played during our stay in Makalu House. And paper football, too,” Apar said. I noticed tears flowing from his eyes and in no time, I had mine, too.

Ghartira ta sabai sanchai chhan hola kyare? Maile sabailai samjheko chhu bhandinu. Ta chai raamro sanga padnu ani naam uchha paarnu ni.” my grandfather sobbed as he found it difficult to control his emotions.

Sabaijana sanchai hoisinchha, hajurbua. Maile hajurle bhaneko kura sadhai samjhinchhu. Ani sabailai hajursanga bhet bhayeko kura bhandinchhu. Tara ma ta marisakeko haina? Ani maile kasari bhannu ta?” I comforted my grandfather and questioned on the purpose he had been telling me all this.

“You aren’t dead yet,” Apar said, “Look down, a group of experienced doctors have successfully saved your life and in a while, you will be conscious. Maybe the gatekeeper had wished for the right thing to question your presence in the heaven so early. And, in the hospital, there are your families and close friends sitting outside to hear the good news.”

“But how did I end up in the hospital?”

“When you were dating that girl, your eyes turned towards a six year old boy who was about to get knocked down by a van coming from the opposite side as he tried to cross the road. You made your decision to save the boy and succeeded in the process. However, the van knocked you unconscious and there was little life left in you as you were taken to the hospital. We were immediately notified of your arrival to heaven. And the rest you know it.” Apar provided me with complete details of how I ended up here.

“Now, I remember some of the details.”

Jaane bela bhaisakechha. La ta ni!” my grandfather bid me farewell.

“Look, you have got a second chance. Make the most of it. And tell all our friends that I miss them everyday. Goodbye, priya saathi.” Apar’s words were the last words that I heard before I slowly gained consciousness in the hospital.

Tata, hajurbua. Bye, Apar.” By the time I wanted to say something, it was already inaudible. They understood my expression and seemed glad that I made their day. Next thing I knew, I was in the hospital bed cherishing the magical moment of my revival and desperate, as Apar said, to make the most of my life.

“Oh my god, he’s alive! Everyone, our prayers have been answered.”

All the people that I had treasured in my lives were there and were busy exchanging happiness. Their smiles were divine and perhaps unknown to them was the fact that I had met two of the best people in heaven.

PS: This post is dedicated to my grandfather and my friend, Apar.