The Game of Rochambeau

The Game of Rochambeau

Papier would have been dead by now if it wasn’t for his friends, Rock and Snippy. He also would never have considered committing suicide, if it wasn’t for those very friends. But he carried on his friendship with them because, without him, the purpose of their existentialism would be lost. They were the God-sent marvel of making magic happen for all those in need. It was all three of them for the magic to happen or none at all. Six years later, Papier finds himself in the same place, same time of day, considering suicide, yet again. Have Rock and Snippy still not learned to value his friendship? Or is it someone else that had driven him to that point this time?


Fantasy / Sci-fi


Nancy K. Chadha (India)

The Game of Rochambeau: A Synopsis
By Nancy K. Chadha

There must a precise moment of a precise day when we are expected to cross-over, to where maturity lies. One that transmutes us, never to return to the other side. Why else would we let our young-ness languish and die while we're still alive?

PAPIER and his friends, ROCK AND SNIPPY, are out to salvage souls, aggressively, for three reasons. The foremost reason being that people have lost their sense of direction to happiness since they mastered the art of ignoring their inner voices. The second being AZRAELL, the angel of death. Of late, she has been on the look-out, at breakneck speed, to grab the unhappy souls and take them away. Because that is the only way she knows to relieve them of their misery. And third, because a suicide attempt by Papier—an aborted attempt, thankfully—unfurls buried secrets, one amongst which is the disclosure of a faux-pas by Rock and Snippy that was the actual reason for them being kicked out of the TYSON’S home years back. As more secrets unfurl, harsher realities about their temperaments come to the fore, leading all three to the realization that they need a quick revamp of their images so they can, once again, be trusted and looked upon.
Taking on the roles of archangels, Papier, Rock and Snippy—Rock, Paper, and Scissors as we know them from the hand game, Rochambeau—work towards making us live life the way it is truly meant to be lived. Which is by staying immature forever. Oh, how wrong we have been about this word! We often lean towards the brusque cognizance of the word ‘immature’ while measuring-up others. And at times, while assessing our own selves. If one were to capture the finer nuances of the word, it would bear semblance to I’m-mature—I’m mature enough to strike a balance between aging and youthfulness; I’m mature enough to juxtapose coming-of-age with the juvenile gene of imagination. If its anything these archangels want the most, it is to keep us young-at-heart, no matter what age we’re at.
They are the ‘signs’—the blessings and the tiny pleasures we are gifted when we’re least expecting them. They’re the little nudges that prod us and keep us from being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The ping we feel when we come across ‘the one’ for us. They are, essentially, our inner voices—the ones we, callously, tend to ignore.
This story is narrated from the point of view of Papier, who pens down his concerns in an open letter to MR. RAZZA UMANA. In the letter Papier relates how he and his friends, at long last, manage to bring back magic into the RAIS’ world. MIRA, the mom and VICTOR, the dad, now not only tolerate, but begin to fall in love with each other all over again. This in turn, puts their three kids’ minds at ease, bringing happiness into their hearts. Thus leaving no scope for Azraell to strike. But then, SAMARA, their daughter, is taken away from them.
Is Azraell to blame for upending their lives? Or is Papier right in accusing Mr. Razza Umana for her death? And also in accusing him for being the actual reason for Papier’s suicide attempt?
Losing Samara shatters Papier. He loses the zeal and the purpose for his existentialism. The fact that CHARMAINE, whom he met and fell in love with while at a cruise, wants nothing to do with him anymore, only adds to his woes. Standing at his balcony, Papier is once again all set to lay down his life when a haloed vision makes him realise that he is giving up his life to a lost cause. And that it will take more than his life for Mr. Umana to realise where he has gone wrong. That reality check, clubbed with Azraell’s desire to retire from her job, gets Papier tempted to give up his laborious and thankless job, and instead, take up Azraell’s effortless one. Not wanting to be left behind, Rock and Snippy voice their keenness to drop their futile jobs and join him.
Are Papier, Rock and Snippy really cut out for this job? Are their ordeals more aggressive than their morals? If so, it would mean having three evil alter-egos taking away souls at three times the pace. With no guardian angel to protect those souls. It would also mean there will be no more pings or tingles when ‘the one for you’ passes by.
It is only towards the end of the story that the narrator reveals to the reader that Razza Umana, in Italian, means the Human race, and the company that Mr. Razza Umana is the CEO of, Mondano Terreno, represents the unspiritual world he has created around himself. And, hence, Papier holds the Human Race accountable for Samara’s death. Amongst other things.
Once Papier is done lampooning ‘Mr. Razza Umana’ for his flaws and misdeeds, he throws him a whammy: he never had any intentions of giving up his life. Not for ‘Mr. Razza Umana’, not for anyone.
And a double whammy: Samara is still alive.
The entire story has been concocted. Fabricated. The only part of the story that is true is Azraell’s job vacancy. Which, all three—Papier, Rock and Snippy—threaten to take up very, very soon if ‘Mr. Razza Umana’ doesn’t pull his act together.

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