[If you've just landed yourself on this novel you might consider starting from here]
One day, when Dubleu had been a kid, one of his friends had held Dubleu’s head firmly between his two palms and shaken it hard. Yes, exactly as one shakes a bottle of medicine before drinking it. I don’t remember with any clarity what made Dubleu’s friend commit an action so awkward. Perhaps he did so because Dubleu had been feeling sleepy in the middle of a game they must have been playing. Or maybe, he just wanted me to begin the 2nd chapter with a reference to him. People could go to such extents just to hog the limelight. Anyway, not to fulfill his wishes any further I’d rather stick with Dubleu, whom I’m considering the protagonist (as yet) of this tale.
Dubleu was too astonished to react to the shameless shaking of a head which, until now, he had considered to be his own. Dubleu’s father had taught him early in his life that his body parts were essentially his own and so, he must be careful with the actions he performed with them. He was too surprised by the fact that his father, after all, had been wrong…. Much more disturbed, perhaps, by the fact that he could be proved wrong in a mere fragment of an unconditional moment (a reason why Dubleu would never trust anything that his father told, ever again, in his life). His head was as much a property of anyone else as it was his own. It could be moved involuntarily. This was just the beginning of his intricate dilemmas.
After it was shaken, he found everything inside his head to be dislocated. But that wasn’t as much frightening as noticing the dislocation that had occurred in the outside world. He could swear that, for a moment, the order of the world had changed. He realized, right at that instance, that the order of the world could be changed just as easily as his father’s lessons to him – All one had to do was shake his head in a desperately cruel sort of way.
So, even after the shaking of his head was completed, Dubleu seemed visibly shaken. And that was the first time Dubleu experienced a phenomenon called headache. Yes, a headache….. even though he had not known how to spell the word then. He had gone home that night and written in his diary –
"Today I had a head-ek"
He didn’t write about anything else that had happened. It was almost as if the headache was the only conclusion he needed to draw from the entire incident. He wanted to persuade me into believing the same when he had shown me the diary entry, but of course, I knew better.
Many years later, Dubleu had to be present in a formal meeting (the first of its kind for him) where as the prevalent rule was, he had to shake hands with all of those present. Most of them were exceedingly pleased with what Dubleu had said a few minutes earlier- thinking it was an extremely intelligent speech. They felt words weren’t enough to congratulate him. So, they had decided (it seemed) that each of them would make it up by shaking Dubleu’s hand as violently as possible. What happened next was really strange.
As his hand was being shaken, he felt a pain surge inside his head. It took him a few more shakes completed through turns, one by one, to recognize it as the head-ek. Once again, he experienced the world losing its order; his friend’s distorted face; his father speaking in an intelligible language…. And the woman standing at the end of the queue. Oh no! She wasn’t an illusion. Not his nostalgia. She was there in the room. The last person waiting in the queue to shake his hand. He knew she wasn’t here to congratulate him like everyone else. They would speak, he had thought. But he could think no more, as he kept shaking hands with strangers. A few unknown strangers. Jumbling thoughts. His father had taken Dubleu’s head in his hand and was shaking his own forcefully; he heard himself screaming something out to his friend and his friend answered – “man, you’re so clearly unintelligible. I’m amazed.”
Before Dubleu could reach the last of the hands to be shaken, his eyes went hazy and he felt his head was about to burst open. He was afraid for more than one reason. He had to turn around and rush out of the room with whatever sight he had retained.
It was a dramatic exit. It left everyone in the room stunned and worried.
Meanwhile, Dubleu kept running through the corridor. There were more lights inside his head than there were outside. It seemed he followed those lights. I couldn’t keep up with him because those lights weren’t there for me. He became frequently invisible.