The Guy Who Burns The Bits

Pranay quickly takes the stage and unfolds his story typed on a paper. He doesn’t seem to be his normal anxious self today. Not caring where to look, he starts his telling on ‘The Guy Who Burns The Bits’

People are so used to security and routine that if they saw someone smoking a cigarette, they will be okay. Stressed maybe because of their smoke aversion, still okay. But if they saw someone burning tiny bits of paper, they will not accept it. Imagine someone lighting a cigarette and someone burning little pieces of paper.

Why the hell are you burning that piece of paper!? I mean, that’s not normal at all. A person going in a corner to burn a piece of paper. That’s probably insane!

This company had a smoking zone just outside their boundaries, where smokers with rituals would gather. A 24 something woman slowly walks to the place expecting the usual jittering of smokers in a corner. So, her eyes find them, and in her mind the word ‘pathetic’ echoes for a second regards to the smoky dullness. Her rummaging finds someone else in another corner. A guy burning a piece of paper. He doesn’t move, or care about who is looking at him. He takes his space on concrete, picks up a bit of paper, uses his lighter, and watches it until it turns all black.

The lady looks. She is not surprised or startled but she knows there is something strange and so she notices. Observing him briefly, she carries on with her system. Evening catches on.

Next day, she goes outside again with no memory of him, and is quite surprised to find the same guy doing his thing. She decides to ask him,

“Hey, I am Samantha. Can I ask you a question?”

“Ask away”.

“Why do you keep burning bits?”

“I like doing it.”

His answer doesn’t answer her. And he goes again to burn his madness or so the girl thinks. Such a cliffhanger.

“What do you like about it?”, and she adds “I’m curious” to show there is no susceptibility. He replies again, which again fails to answer her.

This goes on and becomes a routine. Guy coming outside to burn the bits, she joining the smokers casually trying to avoid him.

She wonders if he is going through some tough times but he just wouldn’t stop. His act starts disturbing her. She discovers her psychiatrist friend to get clues on his and not her, mind-map. Gladden by her own research, she tries again to talk the guy out and to “help him” confront his issues.

“Sorry, but you are wrong. I am not suffering in any way. I like doing it, and you don’t have to understand it. Thanks for the concern though…I guess”

“Well, you are just wasting paper then”

The guy turns his face and looks in the corner filled with people smoking their lungs out.

“Yea, probably”

the guy who burns the bits - the dude story“You are weird”, she says.

“You don’t like it?”

“Not at all.”

“Why?” asks the guy in an unamusing tone.

“You think this is okay? A guy exhibiting his nonsense outside his office? What are you, a child?”

He smirks at her trite. He could avoid her, but he has had this conversation before in his mind and so he repeats himself.

“You are right. I shouldn’t do this here, probably now since I have realized that you and people like you exist. This ought to be called a guilty pleasure or something similar. Totally not acceptable in public. This is unusual. And I am a rebel just for believing no one can stop me from burning what I want. That is a problem.”

“What?” she realizes he is going somewhere with his words, and tries to lengthen the conversation. Maybe she will see him cry after all. “Don’t you think you are being a negative influence?”

“Negative influence?” grinning, the guy looks at her pale confused face, “when did I turn into someone people actually follow? Or they just look at you when you stop conforming! If I wore a leader suit, you know what I would tell those at the low level of food chain? To behave in a certain way, so their life becomes predictable, easier to organize into graphs and manipulate their data. Nothing compels you or me to set an example for everyone else. This is just an imaginary barrier.
People have been following stupidity since ages and they would do it regardless. I don’t care…”

Riled by such words, lady quickly retorts, “Yea of course you don’t care! You are just an anarchist who thinks he doesn’t get the concept of society and is “different”. What do you think will happen if everyone starts to burn stuff?”

“Stop trying to make me feel bad.
You probably learned in school to categorize things two ways, right and wrong, society man and anarchist. Your ephemeral moral codes exist just in your mind. If the term guilty pleasure exists, that means people do strange stuff, just not in public. You don’t want to accept “strange things”, it is not moral right now. Anything that doesn’t belong needs to explain its reason for existence. That’s why it takes fights and protests to get validation for being who you are in society.

Also, you think I want meek cowed people to follow me or my philosophy? Not at all. I want them to run their fictional society. That keeps them predictable in my weekly schedule, and gives me more freedom. A wayward in a society is acceptable, it keeps the system running. Everyone on streets will be a riot. I can’t handle many people like me in my life. Have you ever had an unpredictable week? It gets you exhausted and then you start loving your predictable usual life. You can only enjoy the unusual when it takes a small bite of your time.”

“Fuckin’ hypocrite!”

“Not really. Anyway, if I call myself a hypocrite, how would I be one?”


He looks at the class, the class looks at him. Taking a huge sigh, Pranay smiles his slyness humbly, folds the paper and starts moving towards his place in the classroom in his composed pace. Sitting, he looks out the window, taking his breath of hearty air. He knows he will have to call his guardians tomorrow; nothing that can spoil his day.

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