you're reading...


There was an event at the British Council yesterday in Shakti’s honour; it was her birthday. And it was so good to see Jeet again. There was a birthday party too, and I met several other friends of hers, other points in a circle she’d held together. I was supposed to read/say something at the BCL event, and I’d been trying to find something suitable to read for quite a while. Having realized it wasn’t going to happen about five hours before the thing, I sat down and wrote this. Hope it worked.


The Ten Commandments

The ground was cracked and dry and bleak, and dark clouds streaked the angry sky

As Moses crawled his weary wander down the slopes of Mount Sinai.

His head was bowed, his back was bent, he carried stone tablets of truth

He wished he’d known this day would come; he’d have done push-ups as a youth.

He halted by a rugged rock and laid down the twin slabs of stone.

He looked around and started as he saw that he was not alone.

A vision of delight now stood before him, fashionably clad.

Her eyes were bright and sparkling, her presence made him strangely glad.

‘I’ve heard you have a manuscript,’ she said, ‘so can I take a look?

‘I’ve heard you’re wise and mesmerizing, Mo; It’s time you wrote a book!’

‘This isn’t mine,’ said Moses, ‘It’s the word of God Omniscient.’

‘So you would be his agent, right? You’d get a fair fifteen percent.’

With slender hands she reached out and picked up the stones and Moses stared

She read them calmly. ‘Ten Commandments. Good title. There’s something there.

Ten simple rules to help you lead your life, to guide and show you how,

Great concept. There’s a market, too – self-help’s very big right now.

Let’s see -You are the Lord. Hello. You’re number one. Well, great, congrats.

I can’t use idols? Really? Um, including beads and prayer mats?

Don’t use your name in vain – whatever that means, well, fair enough.

Oh this one’s nice – well done. I promise to take weekends off.

Honour my parents. Cool. Don’t murder. Does meat-eating count?

Good stuff so far – This launch should work best as a Sermon on a Mount.

Don’t commit adultery. Good. Unless, of course, you’re really pissed.

Don’t steal, ok, don’t bear false witness? What? How does that make the list?

Don’t covet your neighbours house. House across the street okay?

Don’t covet your neighbour’s wife. That’s easy, man, my neighbour’s gay.

That’s it? That’s all? I see. Well, Mo, I’ll say this – you might think me daft

But this needs work. It’s promising, but this is only your first draft.

These rules are fine, but they’re the kind people can work out on their own.

A bit generic, no? And what a stern and distant tone!

I see you’re aiming this at the mass market, but a little trust

Wont hurt; a little understanding is a total must.

The Ten Commandments must be well thought out or they’ll give it a miss.

These wont work, cos even I can think of better ones – ten rules like this.’

‘Rule One: Thou Shalt Get Off Thy Lazy Ass And Get A Life,

Thou shalt not moan or groan or bitch or throw thy toaster at thy wife.

Thou art definitely good at something, find it, use it, try and do thy best.

Do what makes thee happy, take an honest shot and screw the rest.

Rule Two: Thou Shalt Be Gorgeous. Thou Shalt Be One Sexy Guy or Gal,

Let glamour be thy middle name, and merriment thy truest pal.

Care not for sneers and jeers or fears of scorn; thou art born to rule.

It matters not what other people think; be thyself, thou art cool.

Rule Three: Though Shalt Live Life In Full, and Experience Every Hour.

Ambition’s fine, and so are dreams, but let them not your days devour.

In striving for the mountaintop thou must pause, take in the view,

The little things, the secret songs, the dusty paths, the dawn, the dew,

Let’s drop the nature metaphors; thou must shop, and read, and lobsters eat,

Dance, and learn, and cry, and yearn, and party whilst thou hast thy feet.

Rule Four: Thou Shalt Love. This one is tough, but easy too,

Love, and learn to love again, and love until thy face turn blue.

Love that passes, love that lasts, love that haunts, inspires and lingers

Self-love too, but not too much, lest thou hurt thy lovely fingers.

Rule Five is not so soppy: Thou Shalt Be Silly sums it up,

Life’s a joke, a laugh, a dream, a wine-glass, not a bitter cup,

Thou shalt perform most diverse acts of looniness; thou shalt be random,

Thou shalt make them giggle, thus earning glad, undying fandom.

Rule Six: Thou Shalt Listen. Thou Shalt Care, Thou Shalt Reply,

Be thou part of others’ lives, let them find thee standing by

In times of need, let them remember joyous smiles and soft-held hands.

Share their dreams, soothe their screams, be patient, try to understand.

I’m sorry if this sounds too pious; I’m no angel, but I try.

Won’t answer thy every text but there’s no harm in aiming high.

Rule Seven: Thou Shalt Always Make An Everlasting, Bold Impact.

Work or play, night or day, they must heed your every act.

Thou shalt be different, be unique, wow them all with style and grace,

Remember; if thou leavst no mark, thou art but a waste of space.

Rule Eight: Thou Shalt Love Thy Body, every bump and bulge and loop

Thou shalt worship at its altar; thou shalt learn to hula-hoop.

Thou mayst try other stuff as well, other ways to move thy pelvis,

Trust my word on this one, though; hooping makes thee feel like Elvis.

Rule Nine: Thou Shalt Break These Rules. Make New Ones, or thou art fools,

Thou shalt not blindly follow me just because I art so cool.

Thou shalt live by thine own rules, and question all that thou art told,

Without, of course, being obnoxious, and making all thy friends feel old.

Rule Ten: I Could Come Up With More, But I Won’t, For I Am Nice.

And I could make this longer, but that would increase the cover price.

These are your Ten Commandments, Mo, now write them all in twelve-point size

In double-space. You got a three-book deal. Well? Will that suffice?’

There’s no real suspense in this tale, for we all know what happened next.

Rose-toed Moses then supposed the stranger sought to ruin his text.

He would not change; He spurned her help, he blindly sought a vanity press,

And this, alas, you see, is why the world is now in such a mess.

But sometimes strangers cross your path when least expected, bringing smiles,

Sometimes smiles can touch your heart and make you wait and think a while.

Sometimes thoughts can make your silences turn light, fire dreams anew

And if sometimes your luck runs true, you might find your Shakti too.


About Samit Basu

Novelist. Best known for fantasy and science fiction work. Most recently, The City Inside (Tordotcom)/Chosen Spirits (Simon and Schuster)


13 thoughts on “Reunions

  1. Way too awesome!
    a tear, a smile or two, and a couple of laughs…

    Posted by k | September 28, 2007, 9:39 am
  2. I did not know Shakti, but this is one good piece 🙂

    I am guessing that she must have been one damn fine girl.

    Posted by Goyal | September 28, 2007, 11:45 am
  3. I never knew Shakti tho have heard about her through blogs.. but let me tell u .. this piece right here was Amazingly Beautiful… it made my day 🙂

    Posted by atish | September 28, 2007, 12:11 pm
  4. Am sure Shakti is laughing as she reads this. Though pencilling in the margins, too. What a wonderful tribute.

    Posted by Sharanya | September 29, 2007, 2:36 pm
  5. lovely!
    These are rules I could live by… and break!

    Looking forward to the third book. I’ve got more people here hooked on the GameWorld concept, we’re all waiting for December.

    Posted by chocochip | October 1, 2007, 8:25 am
  6. thou art, indeed, the boy wonder. and one revels in anonymous fandom.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 1, 2007, 4:11 pm
  7. Awed.
    If Shakti inspired this, some woman.


    Posted by J. Alfred Prufrock | October 2, 2007, 11:27 am
  8. dis was truly wonderful…i quite liked it..very well written

    Posted by ajay | October 3, 2007, 4:32 pm
  9. What an amazing tribute! Didn’t know her but could almost see her through your poem.

    Posted by Anindita Sengupta | October 3, 2007, 4:37 pm
  10. Is this the Calcutta BCL? Please do forewarn us when you land up there the next time. There is no way any one could afford to miss something as rib tickling and erudite as this.

    Posted by ad libber | October 7, 2007, 3:43 am
  11. Hail Thy Commandments.
    I shall abide by Rule 9.

    Posted by aamikalyan | October 11, 2007, 4:22 pm
  12. *blinking stupidly. realising the fact that eloquence found a new definition altogether*

    Posted by Soumashree | April 20, 2008, 12:57 am


  1. Pingback: The Ten Commandments | mere funde - September 24, 2008

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Author pages/Buy books

Copyright (c) Samit Basu. Images copyright respective holders.
September 2007


%d bloggers like this: