I got home late in the afternoon on a Sunday. I was on a date with a girl. I date a lot of girls. And my parents know that.
“All the girls you date. Is it about sex?” my mom queried.
“Sex? Sex!! I can buy all the sex I want. Would you be able to do anything about it?”
Mom went silent. Dad said, “You frustrate me.”
“Frustration? You know what frustration is? You got a wife, a home to call your own, a good enough son. And you are 60. What am i? I am nearing 30 and still am a marketing manager in this obscure firm where my boss treats me like I am his pet dog. I have changed jobs thrice in the last two years, because there are MBAs by the score now. I drive around on my bike all frigging day trying to impress people that, yes sir this shit is very useful for you, this is what you absolutely need. And what have I got? A wife? A home? A good son? Nothing. Now how is that for frustration, dear dad?”
I was pissed off. But I felt like smiling because I had rebuffed my dear father. He fell silent too. I had had enough. I did not care for any fucking lunch. I stormed out of my house (home?) and went to my friend Kingkor’s shop. Our bar, that shop.
Hapa was already there with Kingkor. They were gossiping like a pair of old ladies who have nothing else to do. They in fact had nothing else to do. Summer was just catching up and the heat was rising. There was no electricity; to help Mother Nature punish us mere mortals for desecrating Her whenever we could. They were sitting there looking like sweaty pigs. They laughed at me saying I was looking like a mad bull. Hapa went to the extent of waving his red handkerchief at me.
“Whatever. Let’s have a beer each. It’s too damn hot.”
Nods of approval all around. Kingkor left on his bike and returned with three beers. We guzzled them down. Some talk about girls, sex, marriage, more sex, booze, some more sex, and dope. Another round of beers. Then we decided we needed a ride in the cool evening breeze. Yeah it was already evening. We decided to this eating joint on the highway. A dhaba it is called.
“Oi, I am gonna take Shadow with us.”
Shadow is my ferocious nine month old Doberman. Hapa was a little reluctant.
“O-okay. You t-two get on my bi-bi-bike,” Kingkor stammered.
So we went on this ride, me riding pillion on Kingkor’s Passion, with Shadow sitting docile on my lap. We reached the dhaba. Some food was ordered. And some more booze- whisky this time because beer would be too costly to get drunk on. Very risky, eh?
“Let’s finish up fast guys. I need to go home early,” I said.
“When did you get married?” Hapa asked.
We had a good round of laughter. But I insisted that we get home soon. I wanted to make up to my parents for my behavior in the afternoon. Fate intervened though. FM called up Kingkor, and when he knew where we were, he asked us to wait. He was coming too. We called him Fm because he was the marketing manager of a FM channel. Hapa and Kingkor startednfooling around with Shadow because they were bored waiting for FM. Also because I too was fooling with him. I got rewarded with a few licks to my face and arms. What both of them got, however, was a couple of shallow bites each. That made them see sense and they stopped teasing Shadow.
FM came and ordered some more booze. No food this time though, since all of us paupers were low on cash. We finished the whisky and a few cigarettes. Party over. Time to go back home.
I got on Kingkor’s bike again with Shadow. Kingkor was drunk, so was I. Shadow was dead sober. We were cruising at a nice speed, the cool breeze refreshing us. Suddenly Shadow sees something and jumps off my lap.
I was standing there near Kingkor with Shadow at my heel. I was feeling confused.
“What happened? Why did we get down? To pee?”
“You got h-h-hurt. Shadow pu-pulled you off the bi-bi-bike.”
I touched my face. There was a nice little bruise just below my right eye, I saw in the bike’s rear-view mirror.
“You were out f-fo-for about a minute. I thought ha-ha-had died. I was thinking goo-goo-good rid-d-dance. But you stand up again.”
We both laughed. We got back on the bike and got back home. My neighbour’s eight-year old spotted me when I was stagerring towards my home (house?).
“Yuck. See. Bruise,” he screamed pointing at my face and ran into his house (home?). I laughed like the idiot I am.
P. S: The name was inspired by PP's "Yuck. See. Dent."
Friday, December 2, 2011
He could feel the rocking stop, and opened his eyes in an alien world. The dimly lit interior of the night bus. Nyeelankur stretched himself in the comfortable seat and rolled over the other side. Chandan, still sleeping. He shook his friend. Shook him again. “Chandan, bro, wake up.” Chandan mumbled something that sounded like, “Is it a goddamn earthquake?” “Wake up man. The bus has stopped for the meals.” “I am not hungry,” said Chandan. “So what?” his friend replied, “neither am I! Let’s go and stretch our legs a little.” Apparently everyone else had a similar kind of idea, and both the friends had to wait for a while before they could get down from the bus. Once on terra firma, Nyeelankur stretched again and led the way to the loo. Once they had relieved themselves, Chandan led the way and Nyeelankur followed. They walked to the shop nearby. Chandan bought a fruit drink. Nyeelankur bought a Coke and a packet of tangy chips. It started to rain and both friends walked towards a tin roof; some shelter. There Chandan met another friend of his- Ayush. After due introductions had been made, Chandan and Nyeel shared a Dairy Milk between the two of them. They started to talk about the rain, about the troublesome weather of the small city in which they stayed. Just at that juncture an ageing man approached them. He was dressed in pair of hip-hugging trousers, a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves and the top button undone, and leather sandals. He had a pot belly and bulging eyes. The little hair he had on his pate was dyed in a ghastly shade of orange-red. He was jabbering something rapidly and making some strange gesticulations. It took a while for the two buddies and Ayush to register the fact that he was complaining about the weather to them. “What weather? It has started to rain. So unpredictable. It’s not like this anywhere else. And I did not even bring a sweater. I will have to shiver around all day tomorrow and jump around like monkeys. Hanumanji!!” He made a few more weird gestures. Silence. Just the sound of the rain in the backdrop. Chandan felt he had to do something to lighten up the air. He put on a sugary smile and said to the outsider, “It would be good if we were to be Hanumanji. We could fly then. Being a monkey would be a problem though. What with all the scratching and stuff!” Nyeelankur snickered. Ayush coughed. The subtle change in colour in the other man’s cheek was barely perceptible in the half-light. No one said anything else for a little time to follow. It was the outsider who broke the silence this time around. “It was the same the other time I came. I had carried half sweaters as summer was beginning everywhere else. But it was the middle of winter there. I could but shiver. This time, it is high summer in all other places, and monsoon has set in here. I am carrying just full sleeve shirts. I will have to shiver all day long tomorrow. There won’t be any work done properly. Brrrr! If only… Chandan cut him short and said charmingly, “You should have seen the weather forecast in the local TV channel.” Nyeelankur let out a short jackal-like sound. Ayush turned away. The other man looked ready to kill. But just then the bus started and before anything else could be said, all of them trooped towards the bus. The two friends found themselves in the soft, alien world. They sank into the plush seats. The bus started to roll again. Move on towards their destination. By the way, the two buddies were high on Mary Jane!
He lived in a small shack in the big city. His name was Hasmat, which could be translated to literally mean “don’t laugh”. But people always laughed at him on his face as well as behind his back; and also at his side!! He was an aspiring poet, who had had “writer’s block” since the day he started out to try and be a poet. His imagination knew no bounds, but words eluded him. He was unemployed by profession. He always dressed shabbily with a bag hanging by his side, shaved once a month, had a haircut once in six months; all these as much as to get the feel of being a poet as to save some of the little money he had. Actually the money he got from his affluent parents. One fine day Hasmat decided he had had enough. He decided to take matters into his own hands. He got some leaflets printed with something very enigmatic written on them: “There is no way out!” Then he started to meander in those interesting places frequented by those uninteresting places, handing out those enigmatic leaflets, seeking out some answers. The railway station, the daily bazaar, the bus depot, the weekly bazaar, the taxi stand, the monthly bazaar, the airport, the yearly bazaar. All these places became his haunts. He did not have much success though. Most people took the leaflets just to crumple them, maybe thinking of them as those two-bit advertisements about “sex doctors”, and litter the ground. (Why the fuck take them in the first place, eh?). hen, one day’ Lady Luck smiled at Hasmat in the unlikeliest of places- on the streets. It was another fine day, and he was still handing out those pamphlets. This man was kind enough to read the printed words and ask Hasmat, “Out of what?” “Huh?!!” “There is no way out of what?” Hasmat gave a deep, deep sigh and wisdom from the ages gone by shone bright in his otherwise dull eyes. “Let’s say,” he started, “good Sir, that you somehow got yourself stranded in a vast, dry dessert. You kept wandering about, surrounded by the hot sand; desperately seeking the oasis you knew was around somewhere. One day, two days. Your thirst was almost killing you and you didn’t have much strength left. Then all of a sudden. you see hope: you see some palm trees at a distance. You run towards them at first, then crawl on all fours. The last few feet you drag yourself with your body prone on the sand. The sun burns overhead, and you see that there’s not a drop of water in the oasis. What happens the?” The man gulped, loosened his tie, grabbed a Coke from the nearby stall and finished it in one go. “There’s no way out dude,” he said and ran away. Hasmat could only smile. Next he saw a newlywed lady walking towards him, her chest jutted out, and her back arched at an angle. At an angle of about eighteen degrees, he guessed. Taking the red vermillion on her forehead to be a green traffic light, he handed her one of his leaflets. Now, this lady was not too intelligent; that paradigm about beauty and brains not going together. But putting on a pretense of intelligence, she asked: “What do you need a way out of?” “Is the sentence grammatically correct?” she asked herself. Hasmat gave a deep, deep sigh and wisdom from the ages gone by shone bright in his otherwise dull eyes. “Well, I am married. I love my wife very much. Nothing can keep me happy other than her happiness. I work hard to keep her smiling. Work hard six days a week from nine in the morning to nine at night. The one Saturday I wanted to surprise her. It was her birthday. I took half the day off and hurried back home. There is a loose tile in the roof of our house. I climbed up on the roof and removed the tile. I looked down into our house only to see my wife fucking another man. Woman on top. I had originally intended to shout ‘I love you’ down at her. But the words that escaped my lips were ‘Did I come home too late, or too soon?’. Then I climbed down”. He turned his back to her. “So what do I do?” The lady took a step towards him, pressed her ample bosom into his sturdy back, and whispered into his ear, ‘There’s no way out.” The next person he met changed Hasmat’s life. He had stepped out of an expensive car, which bore a doctor’s symbol on the windshield. Reading the leaflet, he asked compassionately, “tell me your problems. I am a psychiatrist.” The scene changed for Hasmat. He was lifted off the dirty streets into the shrink’s gloomy chamber. He surprised himself by baring all to this stranger. After hearing him out, the doctor said: “Shit, man, that ain’t no problem. If you can’t write poems, write some stupid short stories. Nowadays everyone does!” And he got into his car and drove away. Hasmat put some thought into what the shrink had said and started writing stories. After about an year the book “The Wastelands of My Mind”, containing Hasmat’s stories, hit the stands. The critic could not understand what he had wrote, and book had rave reviews. The readers could not understand a thing, and the book soared to number one in the bestsellers list. Hasmat ended up winning the most coveted Cooker Prize, which had been instituted by Lord “Cooker” Cainbridge to help starving writers. Nevertheless, as one would have read in a fifth standard textbook: “Thus, the morale of this story is that there is always a way out. Unless you back yourself into a corner, that is”. Bullshit. This ain’t no fifth standard textbook, and this story has no fucking morale. Fuck yourself. P. S: This is a liberal translation of Lutf-ur Rehman Pradhani’s Assamese poem “Upai Nai”. Thanks a bunch Rufus Ahlty for letting me fuck up your beautiful poem.