“Do you want to read? Do you want to listen to the radio?” I asked myself.
“I don’t wanna read. I think Rushdie sucks, I told myself.
“Oh, so you want some music?
“What’s up then?”
“How about reading someone else?”
“Can I read with my eyes closed?”
“You can only dream with your eyes closed, asshole. And sleep. And yawn and sneeze.”
“I wanna write.”
“Then do it.”
“Okay, you win inner voice.”
Eyes wide open. I am what I call myself an ELR. English Loving Reader. Not the kind of crappy Indian English that ends up winning Booker Prizes. Good syntax, great grammar, and a dry humour is what I appreciate. All put forward in “english”. Not things like “Arre, yaar, I am here for you, na!” Things like “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”; “A small dusty man in a small dusty room”; “A squat gray building only thirty-four storeys high”; “It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him”.
Sorry Messrs Dickens, MacLean, Huxley, and Heller. “Mischief managed”!!
So, I love english. Call me a non-resident firang. See, I am getting into Booker groove too. Attaboy. There’s more to come. Just hold on to your balls.
Today is supposed to be the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, called Janmasthami. I say “supposed” as I have had read about Him only in mythology, not history. It was also the death day of one of my teeth. Upper right later incisor, maybe, to be precise. I am no daant-waala-daktar yaar . Anyways, I had tried to conquer a closed gate by climbing over it, slipped, and fell flat on my face. The dentist (daant-waala-daktar) said I had fractured the aforesaid tooth and it had to be removed. He then sawed, cut, bayoneted half my gums away before taking it out. In three unequal pieces. So much for informed consent. Then he prescribed some painkillers and advised cold, semi-solid diet for the day.
I came back to my room in a hand-pulled rickshaw, watched some television, had a semi-solid lunch ( bread with cold milk) and some painkillers (not outta fun, I assure you), and had some sleep. No adda, since the guys I share the accommodation with were on duty and I am on leave. They got back in the evening and I went out with one of them to get my jeans altered and my uniform pressed.
Now, my unit has Mandir program today in view of Janmasthami ehich my colleagues had to attend. And I am on leave, remember? So they had to miss dinner and I decided to forget about the “semi-solid” part of my diet. Rather, I thought about replacing “cold, semi-solid” with “cold, fluid”. So I went to the Officers’ Institute in the regiment to complete my day’s diet-chilled beer.
After three chilled (and fluid) beers, I was full and slightly inebriated, though happy, because I had listened to my dentist. I decide out of euphoria not to heed another of his advises and I lit a cigarette as I started to walk back to my quarters. By the way, he had not asked me not to walk.
Bollywood movies can be very crappy and I love them just because they are crappy. Such things don’t happen in real life, na? (I Hate Love Storys). But there was once this movie called Aur Pyaar Ho Gaaya (Booker calling) that had stolen the show at that time. Some newer movies can compete- a stammerer starrer, in which the stuttering hero catches up with a Scorpion (an SUV not the star sign) on a hand-pulled rickshaw. Aur Pyaar Ho Gaaya involved something much bigger- an airplane. The airplane carrying the female lead is on its final taxi and about to take off, when the long haired hero stops it riding a Jeep. Hey, now I see the connection- Mahindra Automobiles (Scorpio and Jeep). And they live happily ever after. No, I am not dishing out all this bullshit just to increase the length of my story. This has context. Back after a while though. Need some tea- Kashmiri tea that a friend has procured.
Okay, I was walking back to my quarters when I saw a brightly lit temple ahead of me, with music blaring out of it. “Celebrations,” I thought. But the some had a familiar ring. Then I recalled. Remember the crappy movie I was talking about, na? It had a Sufi number by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Suprisingly that was the song playing in the temple-albeit with the lyrics changed to praise Lord Krishna. I laughed out loud. Sufi bhajan, eh? Then I thought whether it was ignorance or blasphemy. Or maybe it was unity in diversity- the beginning of the end of religious zealotry? Maybe someday “Om Jay Jagadish Hare” with lyrics praising Allah will be sung in mosques? Or maybe hymns wound be sung in Punjabi in Gurudwaras? Who knows- there’s this adage “It happens only in India”. Oops: “It happens in India only, na?”
The my inebriated brain stopped taking the pressure and I puffed my way to my room, not much unlike a steam engine.
So, I may go back to reading now or may go to sleep. But I think it’s better to sleep. Then I can dream about winning some great literary prize. I think I have incorporated enough Indianisms in the story. See?