Friday, December 2, 2011
TWO BUDDIES (...being Shekhar's story)
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!