Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Trojan Horse And The Great Loss

Theatrical Release Poster
Most of you would be familiar with the Greek story about the Trojan horse and I am sure quite a few of you would have seen the movie 'Troy' starring Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana. As part of Indifiction Workshop, the challenge this time, was to "Write the story of the Trojan War with a narrative that creates a comic mood" covering more than 80% of the events in less than 3000 words.

The story below is my attempt at the same. One of the toughest genres in fiction writing is definitely humor. Would love to hear your comments and feedback. Do read and let me know how you found it.

What follows is a story with a lot of names that would require you to perform some gymnastic acts with your tongue to get them right. So for now let's ignore my name.

Being a soldier in the Spartan army, my duty usually ended up being on guard outside various royal chambers – those occupied by the guests, princes, princesses, monarchs, their mistresses and so on and so forth. It was not easy to stand in the same position, without any expression on your face, in that horrendous armour and ridiculous suffocating headgear, but it had its own benefits. No one in the royal clan found it necessary to speak in hushed tones when discussing important matters. Even in such instances they would not abstain from displaying their genetic trait of bellowing like an elephant with a gastric problem. How would gossip not spread?
I knew Paris had all the makings of a trouble-maker, the moment he landed in Sparta with his brother Hector from Troy. Who else would offer king Menelaus, a donkey’s brain soup as a gift, no matter how famous it is in Troy? Menelaus was shamelessly gorging on it anyways as if famine had stuck Sparta.
He only came to his senses when he found Helen, his wife missing. It was the day, the Trojan princes departed! No one in Sparta ever fathomed what he had found attractive in her, despite the squint that she had and the snorts that she let out every now and then. When Paris smuggled her out, the question became all the more baffling. “I would say good riddance”, one of my comrades had commented. Menelaus looked terribly comical almost like a raging rhino when angered but none of us dared to even smile. He stormed out into the palace corridors, tripped over a carpet, fell flat on his face and broke his nose. When Agamemnon the king of Mycenae and his brother, saw him with the plaster around his head, he burst out laughing. “I warned you” he giggled “Your poetry is absolutely beyond tolerance. I asked you not to recite those awful lines to her. Who do you think you are, Homer? I knew she would flee if you continued to regurgitate all that non sense to her in the name of romance.”
I am not very sure what instigated Agamemnon (I did warn you about the names) to attack Troy. He did not seem to give much importance to Menelaus and his stolen wife. Someone told me, he wanted uninterrupted supply of donkey’s brain soup that was very expensive in other parts of Greece. Eventually he prepared his army to launch an attack on Troy.
The next day Achilles and his cousin Patroclus landed at Agamemnon’s door to join him in his quest. Apparently Achilles had gone to his mother for advice. As part of an experiment to invent a new beauty potion, she had consumed some drink made out of shellfish which had pushed her quite far away from sobriety. In an attempt to say “Good Day”, she kept repeating “Go Die” and Achilles took it to his heart.
I had heard many rumors about certain strange obsessions that Achilles possessed ranging from tooth picks to swords and daggers. I became quite convinced of the truth in them when the Greek army attacked and desecrated the temple of Apollo. Briseis, a member of the Trojan royal family was breathtakingly beautiful. I really have no idea why of all the things he whisked off her washroom slippers. She in turn seemed to have the same brain impairment. Charging like a grizzly bear, she followed the returning Greek men to retrieve her washroom sandals and ended up being captured. Achilles had started wailing like a child whose lollipop had been snatched, when he heard that they had taken her to Agamemnon. He was quite a sight sitting in his tent in his spiky armour and blowing his nose and sniffling. There was one thing about Briseis that no one in the Greek camp knew and proved really really costly. Her voice that resembled a symphony of a thousand peacocks. When she was presented before Agamemnon, she let out such a piercing cry, the tables and chairs started cracking and the chandeliers started falling. Agamemnon became immediately prepared to entrust her to Achilles. After all, his heel was the only sensitive part in his body, not his ears.
While the Greek camp was trying to save itself from the fury of Briseis’s voice, Paris challenged Menelaus to a duel. The only act of valour he had committed until then was the throwing of the fly that had fallen into his donkey’s brain soup. All of us were baffled what gave him the courage and motivation to fight our raging rhino. Helen? Nah! Not with that sort of squint! Anyways, if love can be blind, it can be squint too. Actually, he only had to do a little bit of research to win in the fight. Menelaus had a major weakness. If one slightly touched him on his left hip, it tickled him so much that he would drop his weapons and roll on the ground laughing. Paris was not aware of this. How intelligent would someone be if he drank only donkey’s brain soup all his life? He was squashed by Menelaus like a mosquito on his thigh. Hector somehow had come to know of these facts and rushed to his brother’s rescue. Menelaus was also pea brained in some aspects. Having such a weakness would anyone wear armour with an opening at the exact spot in the name of fashion? Slaying him became a piece of cake for Hector and that’s what finally happened.
That night as I stood guarding Achilles’s tent I heard sweet nothings from inside. The Greek soldiers had been falling into a coma one by one on hearing Briseis’s cries. In an attempt to save his men, he had pulled her inside and the pair had grown fond of each other. Well if love can be blind and squint, it can be deaf as well I suppose.
At day break, I was trying to stop my drooping eyelids from closing when I saw a battalion leaving towards the walls of Troy. At the lead was someone who looked a little like Achilles. “I wonder who that is.” I told my companion on guard. “Can’t you see that pot belly in front? That’s his cousin Patroclus” he giggled. One of the most distinguishing features of Patroclus was a paunch that resembled the biggest of our Grecian urns. I must say he had done quite a good attempt at the disguise. Unfortunately he should have remembered that he was going to fight Hector one of Troy’s greatest warriors. With his paunch hanging like an oversized necklace in front of his body, running was totally out of question for Patroclus if required. It did not come as a surprise to me when I heard that he had met his end at Hector’s hands. I was also told that poor Hector had lost two of his swords while trying to insert them in Patroclus’s stomach. They had become bent and useless. Finally he had managed to slit the latter’s throat.
On seeing Patrochlus’s corpse Achilles was reacting like a mad wild wart hog. He had entrusted Briseis’s washroom slippers with him, and now that he was no more, there was no way for him to figure out where it was hidden.
“Do you have any idea how much those slippers meant to me?” Achilles thundered at Hector outside the Trojan fort. “Nothing fit my feet so perfectly ever before” he growled and kicked his leg in the air bringing his feet close to Hector’s face. While the spectators gasped in absolute disbelief and horror, Hector collapsed like a landslide and fell on the ground, dead. In order to safeguard his own life, Achilles had never washed his feet ever since his mother dipped him as an infant in the river Styx. The obnoxious odours proved fatal to poor Hector who was totally unprepared and defenseless in front of it. To avoid embarrassment, Achilles screamed out loud and diverted attention by tying Hector to his chariot and dragging him along.
Priam the Trojan king came that night to get back Hector’s body from the Greek camp. Achilles grabbed the opportunity to send Briseis away as well. His ears had won the battle with his heart. They were tired of bleeding everyday listening to the earth shattering outputs from her vocal chords.
After all this, many in the Greek camp felt it was best to just return to Sparta. But Agamemnon was adamant about the donkey’s brain soup. All the generals started racking their brains for ideas to defeat Troy. That’s when Odysseus came up with the idea of the Trojan horse.
Where do these men get all these ideas from, I don’t know. The plan was to make a huge horse statue and all of us were to hide inside it. It was poor soldiers down the order like me executing such ingenious plans. By the time we ended up finishing that horse we were all exhausted. Like all customers the world has ever known, Odysseus and his peers kept changing the demand and the design every few hours. Finally when they grew tired of redesigning we ended up bringing the horse to a shape. It did look like a cross between a bison and a giraffe but we nevertheless called it a horse.
We all somehow managed to get inside the horse and seal it from inside. A general in the close circles of Odysseus banged his head on an iron rod while climbing in. The blow ended up upsetting his mental wiring. Throughout our stay inside the horse, he kept singing “Horsey, horsey, Trojan horsey…You look like a buffalo but you are a Horsey”. It was pitch dark and stifling hot inside and there was no option of silencing him either. “Briseis was heaven compared to this” many of them murmured. Some started sobbing uncontrollably unable to tolerate the ranting. Some found it musical and joined to sing along as well. It was pandemonium.
As planned, the Trojans dragged the horse within the walls of Troy. In the wee hours of the morning we opened the secret door and stepped out. After crouching for a long time inside that ludicrous horse most of us had sprained backs and sore legs. The incessant chorus of ‘Horsey Horsey’ had also driven some of my comrades to their wits end. The Trojans on the other hand were scattered in a myriad of postures around us in a totally inebriated state. Imagine what would ensue if a battle happens between a bunch of totally drunk soldiers and a bunch of partially insane ones. I had no more energy left in me and did what I considered best. I stealthily managed to sneak into one of the royal chambers and hid myself in a huge chest.
The earth was relieved of quite a few souls that night. Glaucus, Priam and Agamemnon to name a few. While I was waiting inside the chest I heard some noises outside. When there is a choice between saving one’s life and curiosity the latter always takes precedence. I lifted the chest lid inconspicuously and peaked out. Andromache, Hector’s wife was standing in front of a huge mirror her arms spread out flanked by Helen, Paris and Briseis.
“This is where the secret passage his. Hector had shown it to me. We should be able to get away safely.” The others nodded. “Hector Hector Abracadabra” she yelled. Nothing happened. “Wrong Password!” she muttered under her breath. “Hector Open Sesame” she tried again. No reaction again. “Let me try” Paris offered. He took a deep breath and screamed “Donkey Brain Soup”. The mirror did not budge. They all turned and looked at Briseis who nonchalantly responded “Alright” and stood before the mirror. I knew what was about to come and pressed my hands close to my ears with as much force as I could muster. She let out her quintessential scream and the mirror burst open revealing a passage behind.
Andromache went in first followed by Helen and Briseis. “Wow! Look what we have here” a voice was heard. Achilles came charging in brandishing a menacing sword. Paris stood in front of him, took aim with his bow and arrow and fired. The arrow managed to travel two feet. Huffing and puffing like a bull, he fired another ten arrows while Achilles stood with his arms folded and grinning. Not one managed to brush even a hair on his body. That’s when Paris’s eyes grew wide and his face developed an unprecedented expression. He had spotted him! His arch enemy! A fly that buzzed around and landed on Achilles’s heel! Ever since one had fallen into his donkey’s brain soup he had developed a blood thirty vengeance against their entire clan. Before Achilles realized what was occurring he snatched a fly swatter nearby and brought it down with a vehement force. Achilles let out a cry like a yelping dog and fell flat on his face. The Greek soldiers found Achilles the next day with a single fly swatter on his heel.

The saddest part of the story is all the men and women who knew the secret recipe of the donkey’s brain soup perished in the war and the delicacy was lost forever to the world.

About Indifiction Workshop: Indifiction Workshop is a story writing workshop for bloggers interested in fiction. This was initiated by 'The Fool' who blogs at and C.Suresh who blogs at
Link to the exercise
Plot By: Jointly by judges of edition 7 - The Fool who blogs at, Nabanita Dhar who blogs at and Mixi who blogs at
Link to this post on Indifiction Workshop

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A dialogue that was touching

Recently I saw the movie 'Dolphin Tale' on TV. Its the moving tale of a little boy who develops a bond with an injured dolphin. There is a question about the latter's survival as doctors have had to amputate its tail after an accident. The boy along with a few others attempts to save his friend by fixing a prosthetic tail. 

Its a poignant tale. One specific scene stuck to my mind.

There is one character in the movie , a champion swimmer Kyle who loses his leg in a military explosion. In a particular scene, the scientist who designs prosthetic devices, Dr Cameron McCarthy(Morgan Freeman) has a dialogue with Kyle to pep him up and bring him out of his feeling of doom.

Kyle says something like 'All along my life I have worked for only one thing' (meaning to say that its lost now after his accident).

Freeman nonchalantly responds 'The good thing is you have a million other things to choose from'. 

That dialogue was like 'Wow'. A very simple statement but yet it carries so much meaning, depth and above all 'Hope'.

We cannot always change what happens to us in life. How we react to it and what perspective we take is something we can choose. Its not always easy to stay positive. Life can be cruel at times too. One's spirit can go a long way in turning things over and finding new meanings. As he rightly said, when you lose one thing there are a million other things to choose from.