14. Singer's Swan Song

Congratulations, human. You have passed all our tests with flying colors. We will now leave the human race in peace and depart to our dimension. In appreciation of all your feats, we also want to give you a special gift.

Of course they did not say so in as many words. But this is how Harvi’s mind interpreted their telepathic communication.

Harvi’s heart was racing. What were they going to give him? He hoped they would give him lot of wealth so that he need not study or work the rest of his life. Or maybe some cool device that would make him popular with his peers. Or still better they would make him super brilliant like that alien in that Hrithik Roshan movie.

The aliens continued,” We are going to give you the most precious substance in the universe: time.” A curse escaped Harvi’s mind. What the hell! And what did they mean when they said they were going to give him time? Maybe a time travel machine? That sounded cool.

Suddenly the castle descended and strong winds began to blow. Harvi’s consciousness began to fade and soon he went blank. The next thing he heard was loud banging at his door. His friends were knocking his door to wake him up to get ready for the exam. He was back to the same day when he had made contact with the aliens.Is that what the aliens meant by giving him time? Had they given him back all the time he had spent on the quests and taken him back to the time before the quests?

He did not have time for all these contemplations as he had only 15 minutes to brush his teeth, take bath and change into something more decent than the faded t-shirt and jaded shorts. The exam was a tough one as usual. All the old frustrations were returning! There was another exam the next day. He was getting back to the old rut. He had not come back to a rousing hero’s welcome. It seemed as if nothing had happened: no aliens, no adventures, no saving the world. He wanted to sing out aloud. But his heavy heart seemed to drag down the songs like a heavy weight and they never reached his lips.

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces,
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

He was back with all the same old guys, the first year guys busy with their assignments and quizzes, the second year students busy preparing for interviews, everyone competing with each other for the grades and jobs. If earlier, he did not relate with his batch mates, now he found them all positively repulsive. He was badly missing his adventuring days. With every passing day, it all seemed like a distant dream. At times, he wondered if it all had really been only a dream after all. But the void in his heart felt so real and the sadness just lingered on like a bad smell.

Their tears are filling up their glasses
No Expression, no expression
Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

He had kind of completely lost interest in life. The aliens had called time a gift. That is assuming the aliens had been real and not just a figment of his imagination. But time seemed like a curse here. It just would not pass. Life seemed an eternal torture. Everything was so mundane and meaningless.

As they say time is the best healer. Time did heal some of his hollowness. He was beginning to feel more grounded in reality at least to some extent. In good time too for it was the most critical time in the life of a B-Schooler: placements. Though he did not have high hopes he applied to all the companies. As expected he did not figure in most of the Day 0 shortlists. But surprising one firm had shortlisted him: McKinsey and company. This was a surprise. Finally things were looking up. He attended the case interviews workshop and prepared himself well for the interview.

Soon the D-day arrived and he was facing the interview panel. Two men in black suits and black sun glasses sat in front of him, black suitcases by their side. They motioned him to sit down and gave him the case to read. As he read the case a sudden shiver shot up his spine. The case read

A corporation from the alien world of Mabus seeks to obtain an ancient artifact called the apple of innovation from the world of the human race. What should be the best acquisition strategy?”

He got up with a start. One of the men spoke up, “Not so fast Mr. Singh. Please remain seated. We are called the Men in Black. Our organization polices all alien activity in Earth’s vicinity. We came to know you have recently been having liaisons with aliens. So we came to investigate

But I thought you were partners at a consulting firm.

Yes that too.  But that is just a cover. This is the main job. Try and use your head Do you seriously imagine anyone would pay us shit loads of  dough for fancy presentations telling clients things that they already know? ” One of them laughed derisively.

Well, as far as Harvi was concerned there was good news and bad news. The good news was that aliens were not a dream. The bad news was that the Men in Block were turning out to be a nightmare.These guys were thorough in their methods and he felt as if he was facing a Spanish inquisition.

I am sorry to tell you, Mr. Singh, we will have to take you into our custody. You have committed treason against humanity by abetting aliens in stealing one of humanity’s most ancient artifacts. Your act has put the future of the human race at grave risk

This was becoming too much for Harvi to handle and he was beginning to feel claustrophobic. He wanted to just break lose and run. As he started to sprint, he heard a click followed by a thud as something hit his back. He felt intense pain for a few seconds and then it went numb. Comfortably numb! He no longer felt any sadness, fear or anger. A strange kind of bliss engulfed his whole being. Was this the ultimate peace everyone yearned for? He could hear the slow melancholy song fade into distance as his vision dispersed into nothingness.

And I kind of find it funny, I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad World

2012 had been a great year for B-school placements. All newspapers blared loudly about the flood of offers and incessant rain of wealth showering on the students that year. Only one local newspaper carried a small column in a corner of the third page about a student reported missing, feared to be dead. Harvinder Kuldip Singh, the man with the blue turban, the singer who had sung his swan song.

Previous Part of the Story  : Singer upsets the Apple Cart
First Part of the Story        : Singer on the Roof

Picture credit : Swan Picture
Song Credit  Mad Mad World Song by Jules Gary


Indolent Insomniac said...

Oh NO!! I don't want Harvi to die...!!

Wonderfully written TF!!! I must say!! If this series doesn't get you the mac...i don't know what will!!
ATB!! :D

T F Carthick said...

Thanks, II for following till the end and encouraging me. I think this is the first time somebody has written an entire novelette for a contest.

dvirada said...

Wow! 'm speechless!

So Harvi is Herkales' reincarnation? Awesome:) That's atleast how 've interpretted it:)

And how fitting it was to use swan's song as the title of the post. Given the ironical coincidence of the series associated with Greece and that Harvi was a singer.

Thanks for providing us with an entertaining series. 'M sure I will reread it many times in the future as well.

I used to read most of the posts in the series at night and it was really best way to unwind my busy day. I am affirmative of narrating this as a bed time story to my kids:)

Kudos to your unfading tempo and inimitable innovation. They really make this series a legend:)

umashankar said...

What a befitting, poetic end to a saga that had captivated me for the better part of the month! Just as I had started smelling a clichéd end of it all being reduced to a long wild dream,the Men in Black lent credence to the long series of scintillating experiences of Harvinder Kuldip Singh once more! I liked the potshot at McKinsey & Co but that seems such a small fry in the face of the gargantuan scheme of things. I can rest assured from the point hereafter knowing that the legend of Harvi lives, and he may proceed yet again on some urgent mission for the blissfully unaware and selfish fellow humans.

ps. I feel honoured for the inclusion of the MIB!

RioZee said...

It is surely a mad mad world. The philosophy, real ultimate work of hidden talent, coming to the fore.
I read it three times at night and again in the morning taking a go at it. The aliens mystery which everyone yearns to know the hidden truth. I remember reading a desire of an american citizen somewhere, where he expressly desired to become president of America for only a day. He just could die to see the hidden facts file on aliens.
The death embrace crafted in ultimate fashion.

Aishwarya said...

hey TF,I just read the whole story in one go because I was so spell bound. In the hurry, I guess, I missed something , so just wanted to ask that why ' har kul s' has been highlighted?

anyways,it was an awesome read!!!!! loved it :D
all the best :)

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, dvirada. I am so glad this series worked and you liked it so much. I had always been narrating real life experiences and I wanted to diversify into pure fiction. As you know this was my first attempt at something of this scale.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot for supporting this series throughout umashankar. The moment you mentioned MIB in your comment, I decided they would be coming at this point of the story. That is not only idea of yours I have used. In the first episode you had hinted about the symbolism of blue turban. I have used that and subtly mentioned 2012 and man with blue turban together in the last paragraph.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Maun Vision. You caught the exact mood I wanted to build towards the end - a kind of mysterious feeling towards the aliens. And the mad world philosophy is from a song. I have given reference at the end of the post. It is beautiful to listen to.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, ashzzes. You did not miss anything. If you put HarKUl S together it will read as hercules. This story was based on the ancient Greek mythology of 12 labors of Hercules. So the name was a tribute to the original hercules.

indu chhibber said...

I don't know much about the internet &all the associated zing-bang but you have incorporated the whole, & more in this masterpiece--& HOW!It was a fascinating read even though it does not belong to my genre.
You are solid competition for Harry Potter-zoom on !

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Indu. This is not most folks' genre. But I am glad you liked it.

Unknown said...

You know what, mixing the MIB with this series is not cool. And killing or the disappearance of Harvi is not so very good. You know what's cool? The MIB-like dialougue you used, I could totally imagine Will Smith mouthing those funny ones. And the taking in custody of Harvi was an end I couldn't predict...
If you don't get the price for this one, I just might buy and read all your future book.... :P

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Nitin for your candid feedback. These kind of things will help me know what a reader likes and does not like in a story. Actually MIB was suggested by another user.And always opinions are divided on what should be done to hero at end of story. I went with my gut feel. It was fitting with title swan song and over all Greek setting. But all these things leave an opening for me in case I want to do something with this series again in future.

C Suresh said...

unexpected twist at the end TF. Good to read and the climax was most certainly not a let down.

Btw, maybe you could have left the end open-ended. You did to an extent since you do not actually make it clear that HarKuls is dead. But even the MIB thing - you could have left it as their saying evaluating what he had done (not condemning him) and, then, the escape and the shot. So it would leave open the doubt of whether he is dead or in custody of the MIB. Who knows, Harkuls could well be one of the MIB next:)

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, CS. I guess lot of variations in opinion on the ending. I am glad opinions are not unanimous against the ending. Actually it had to end like this to make the tragedy complete. Dying a hero would not have been tragedy. Not given credit for his deeds and killed as a traitor is the ultimate tragedy. So given it is in Greek setting with title Swan song as title, I felt it was fitting it should end like this. However I have left some open ends here and there in case I want to explore further again some time in future. But still could not leave it too open. Then it won't be a conclusion at all.

DS said...

A very nice end to the story tf. Whats so good is that it is still open!!
Loved the way poor Harvi is depicted at the end, poor soul heartbroken...
Will miss him from tomorrow...

T F Carthick said...

Thanks, DS. Gave you the kind of end you asked for. I so much enjoyed discussing with you after each day's story.

Harish G. said...

Wow, the story is done, and still open to one's own imagination. Good thing, you can come up with a sequel sometime.
I'm reminded of The Name of the Wind, since it also dealt with adventures of a single man that were not known to many.
Your insights of MBA into the story, in satires or otherwise are good to read.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Harish. Checked out Name of the Wind on Wiki. Concept is so similar to mine. I am surprised that someone has thought of a similar idea and even managed to publish.

Vinay Leo R. said...

Having read the series completely without commenting, it's only right I do it now. :) After taking us through a fun journey with some twists and turns, I think most people would've anticipated a happy ending for the post, and I'm in a way glad that you took it the unexpected direction and gave it such an ending.

Harvee is only in custody at present, so you can still bring him back in a future series in another capacity I think :D That'd be fun.

Cheers, and good luck with the contest. I don't know about the results, but I certainly wish you to get a prize for this novelette. :)

T F Carthick said...

Thank a lot, Leo. As I keep repeating I am happy I wrote this and you all folks read full series and shared comments. Prizes are only secondary and companies have their own criteria. Actually I have not explicitly stated whether he is dead or he is in custody. If I have to write a sequel he can't be dead. But if I never get around to writing a sequel, it is open to assume him dead as well.

Princess Poo said...

Noooooooooo! Harvi cannot die :( After all this he cannot :'(.
I hope he gets to go to Elysian Fields :).

Lovely story TF JHI :).
Felt so into it, it was as if I was a part of it :).
Had me hooked till the end :D.

Do make this as a novel :).
I'm really waiting for the day you start publishing novels, cause I know I'll buy every single one of them :).

Your writing way is too good, and moreover, when you write, you take everyone's perspective into view, making the story more interesting.

Thanks for an awesome ride TF JHI :).

T F Carthick said...

Thanks, princess. Glad you sat and read through the whole thing in one go. I have opened this only for you and another friend. Will close it again the moment he is done reading it and then work to make it a novel.

Rafaa Dalvi said...

I wasn't expectin such an end. You've done a brilliant work TF and you deserve applause for it. I have no clue how many times I laughed like a hyena in the last hour reading this series. I hope you pen down another Singer series with the same level of creativity and brilliance.

T F Carthick said...

Glad the series gave you the laughs. I hope I can revive him from the dead again sometime.

Shrikant said...

That was a wonderful series. HarCulS was a wonderful character. But was not expecting such an end. Is this truly the end or is there something more to the Singer. Why did he sprint? Why didnt he just knock the MIB guys over with another song and dance sequence??
Well written. Enjoyed every moment I spent reading this series. Truly a Magnum Opus that should definitely be published.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Shrikant. Even I do not know if this is the end. I always like to leave an opening in my longer stories to revive the story in case people liked it and I feel writing more about the character.

Vikas Khair said...

Wow what an end to such a wonderful story. But it was very sad indeed. Truly a Swan Song .. Loved every bit of your grand saga if it was written for a contest then I hope that you got all the top prizes. All the Best buddy for the book and your other endeavors.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks for reading such a long series end to end and leaving encouraging comments all along. Really appreciate. The contest I got only a consolation. But writing was more fun than the contest.

Vikas Khair said...

Yes totally agree writing is the real high, prizes are only the cherries on top of the cake. I just hope that I could be as creative as you someday. I would just have to write a lot more. Let's hope that you could also leave such encouraging words on some of my works, later on.

Unknown said...

Very beautiful ending to the hilarious saga of adventures!

T F Carthick said...

Thanks, Pankti.

Post a Comment

Kind words of appreciation/feedback

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces