We were having a good time, sitting on the first floor, sipping on my rum, and he was gulping down his beer. The food was on the table, and the time had mellowed. I was at peace and remembering the good old days of 4-5 years ago.
We were having a conversation of how kiddish I looked when I had worn a suit instead of a tie at the tie-day in our office. That really gave us the chuckles. My friend over here, Imran, had grown really close to me over the 2 months that I had spent in the company.
We were working in a BPO, and were now, after 4 years, catching up. Imran was kind of like me, highly sensitive to the environment, people, and ideas. I, Anirudh, am the same kind of a guy. My life's not a tragedy, but my thoughts are.
I'm an impatient guy, and the holistic ideas fit better while the nitty-gritties are lost in thinking. Munching on the papad that was on my plate, I took intermittent sips from my rum. Imran had just returned from UAE, Oman. He didn't really like the place and was complaining about how people treated him there.
According to him, an outsider in any Saudi country will be treated like a modern day slave. "They expect you to do all the work there..." said Imran. Now I've never been much of a GK person, but I can understand how it would feel to be traded, although in this day and age, slaves are not traded, but hired.
We were sitting on the sofa on the 1st floor, and the ac was on full blast. Since the ceiling was very low, the ac was just beside my face, and my left cheek had almost frozen- but the rum helped. A big bulky guy, in his mid 40s, entered the room. With a pen tucked in his breast pocket with a small diary, he walked in and stood looking at a group sitting right behind us.
The waiter was pulling a chair for him in the congested area, but the man told him to rest, and instead he sat beside Imran. The waiter came and kept the man's liquor on our table along with dried chickpeas on a plate. Imran, before joining the BPO with me was a journalist, and his instincts played out well to recognise that the man was a police. The man turned out to be an ACP. Imran started jelling up with the police while I started checking my back pocket for my wallet.
Panic took over me as I realised that my wallet was missing. The police man was generous enough to tell us about his life, his achievements, and also sharing his soup with us, even though Imran was a bit apprehensive on having his soup. Imran never liked eating during drinks- but he couldn't refuse to the police.
Imran jelled so well with the officer that they both exchanged numbers. I'm not much of a people person, so I didn't interfere with their talks, but the officer was interested in knowing about me. He asked me "Where do you live?" I said "Mira Road," sitting in Mahim, Mira Road was almost 1 and a half hour journey.
"You come from really far, be careful while going back home. The times are not good..." said the policeman. As if I needed him to tell me that. The times are bad, and I know that. With pick pocketing going down, and murders on the rise, I can only imagine a life with pick pockets- that would be much better.
Organised crime still maybe taking place, but I really don't need a police man to tell me to be careful. No 25 year old needs to know it from the police. Chomping on his chickpeas, the police man made himself comfortable with us. I can only imagine how it would feel to not pay the bill and run away. Since this police looks like a regular in this bar, I don't think anyone would be gutsy enough to not pay the bill and just fuck off. For now, I was drowning in nervousness. Depreciating myself in my head, "How the fuck could I forget about my wallet."
Imran knew a crime branch officer, and the police man happened to be a friend of the same officer. "He stopped coming to work from 3 months." said the ACP. Imran inquired if the police doesn't have any verification team to go check on the long term absentees. The police man replied "What's the use of a verification, we ourselves carry out verification tasks for other companies." Imran asked about the absent policeman "What happened then?" The police answered "Nothing. We called the officer, but he didn't answer, so we found a replacement."
They were having their conversation, while I was thinking how I will get out of this mess. I also didn't find the police man's story convincing, why would the police suddenly find a replacement instead of finding out what happened to the crime branch officer?
Imran inquired "You come here alone?" the police man replied "No. That-" the man pointed towards a table behind us, where a group of 4 were sitting, "That is my group. I come with them over here." I realised the only reason he was sitting with us was because there was no place with the group. I was really cursing the congested place now.
They kept with their talks, laughing occasionally, while I was nibbling on the papad and the chutney. Almost after 20 minutes the man finished his soup, papad, and his series of pegs. I was only hoping he would leave early, I had my own problems to look after now.
A few years ago, me and my friend Shobraj had gone on a so called shenanigan spree. For almost 6 months, every night we went out, got drunk, did some crazy things. Smashing a windshield to slapping random people, and calling names at the sex racketing eunuchs in the dark alleys.
The alleys were dim, shady, and you could hear pleasure hit moans of all the customers who went to blacken their dicks with the eunuch tongues. I didn't give a damn about the customers, except for when I had shout out loud to disturb and pull attention towards their secret rendezvous.
"So chhota, what are you up to nowadays?" Imran always called me chhota. He meant that with a deep concern for a younger brother, while I called him bada- for no reason, and every time I called him that, I felt amused. You would understand why if you are good at Hindi.
I told Imran about my daily routine, while at the same time hoping for some more stories to kill the dead air. I never understood casual conversations. How to keep up with them was the biggest issue, and right now, there was an even bigger worry hovering over my head.
I didn't have any money on me, and I was too high to even give a fuck about it. "Why not redo everything I did during my shenanigans." I thought. The police guy had gone, and Imran was too happy to say no to anything. I told Imran about my missing wallet, and his immediate reply was "Chhota don't say that. I don't have any money..."
"Don't worry, I have a plan," I tried to relieve Imran. I told him my plan and Imran laugh mildly saying "I've never done anything like that Chhota-" "But today you will." We finished our eateries and Imran took a last, long drink of his beer, and keeping his bottle down, he said "30 seconds Chhota... don't be late." I displayed a thumbs up to Imran and waited for him to go down to the ground floor.
I didn't even wait for 30 seconds, I just waited for like some 20 seconds, and got going. My legs were numb, my lips were numb too. I wasn't giving a fuck about anything now, all I wanted to do was get out of the dingy bar. I casually walked out of the restaurant and entered the street like a celebrity steps on the red carpet.
I got on Imran's bike, and we rode off. Imran and I were laughing all the way to a pan stall. We stopped at a spot at the side of the road. I told Imran to buy two Marlboro hard sticks. I held a stick between my lips, and lit it using a lighter. Blowing off puff after puff, me and Imran were just amusing ourselves with what we had just done.
"Chhota, you are a chhota devil really..." declared Imran. We were just standing, and feeling the breeze with a bit of drizzling rain. Not even a word from either's mouth- this is the uncomfortable part of every casual meet that I encounter. I don't understand how to go through this phase where there's no topic in my head to break the ice with, and the other person is just in tranquillity.
Then something happened to break the dead air, and give me some relief- a call to Imran. Imran had True caller installed and that showed 'Sarang bar'. Imran gestured ass whopping to me and picked up the phone. I was just standing hoping that I would reach Mahim station and be on my way home soon.
Imran tried Saudi accent on the call, saying "I don't drink how can you call me? What? You want me to come at the police station? Yes- yes, why not. Let's meet at Mahim police station..." After the call Imran told me "We are done Chhota. I'm getting calls from the bar now." I couldn't help but laugh at it, and Imran only smiled and said "What the fuck Chhota, how can you find it funny?"
Another call hit Imran's phone, and this time it was the ACP whom we had met at the bar. "Sir, I don't know what that friend of mine did. He said he was going to pay and that he was giving a reunion party but I don't know what he did." Imran justified falsely to the police. I don't know what the ACP told him, but Imran decided that he was going to pay his part.
I told Imran to give them my number, and that later on I'll pay them. Imran warned me that they can come to my home, but anyone in his right mind would realise that no one's going to travel one and a half hour to reach Mira Road just to claim their 500 rs.
I told Imran to drop me at the station. Imran did so, I shook hands and we tapped each other's shoulder. I was on my way home.
The train was scarcely crowded, and I felt serenity inside. I swung my bag from my back to the front. I took out a book and wrote a poem on my way home. I don't know why but I can't sit silent and inactive. Something or the other should occupy my time otherwise even a second feels like an hour. Feeling every second tick by is like a paradox for me. You feel every second, like as if it will never pass. And the next moment you see the whole day has come to an end. You keep waiting, and your whole day goes just in that- waiting.
I was sitting at the window side, and just above my head was the carrier to keep the passengers' luggage. It was almost an hour journey now. I was getting calls from the bar, and I didn't have any Truecaller on my phone, but the new numbers hitting my phone just after my funny escapade was hint enough that I shouldn't be answering.
I wrote two poems in almost 45 minutes. Another half an hour to go, so I put in earphones and played a song- Thoreau- Afraid. I was feeling the cheap thrill of what I did. I spent my time listening to music that was being interrupted by the calls. I was letting the calls go missed, and was looking outside at the sleeping world.
I looked around me in the train coach, and saw people sleeping on the seats, occupying a space for 3. I saw people standing at the gate with earphones plugged in, they were observing the world that was passing them. Everybody is in a cycle. Work, home, work. They have their micro tasks which they believe will lead them to their macro goals. I always wonder if they get bored, maybe they do. But this is life. Everything is growing old. That's it. That is what there is to the world. Everybody is in a cycle, and some people like me want to disrupt everything, but nothing can help us escape this.
The calls stopped hitting my phone. And I knew that nothing would affect me now. I'm free. I was still under the influence of the alcohol. Numb, and serene. It was only 10 minutes before Mira Road would arrive. Some big bulky guy walked over to me, and reached out for his suitcase on the carrier above. He held his suitcase, and slipped it off the carrier. Maybe the guy was drunk too, because the suitcase slipped from his hand and slumped on my right shoulder, flipping off my earphone from my right ear.
"Can't you be careful!?" I shouted at the guy. The bulky beast opened his mouth and a waft of beer blew over my face "I'm being careful, but mistakes can happen right!" he shouted. "Why are you shouting at me? Can't you be quiet, your bag fell on me. And it hurts that's why I'm telling you." "FUck off! Chut..." And the guy walked off towards the gate.
"Fucking walking breast..." I muttered. I plugged in my earphone and went into my zone. I felt a hand rest on my thigh, I turned to take a look, and saw the big bulky beast sitting beside me. He nicely took my earphone out of my ears, and asked politely, with his beer breath forcing me to stop breathing "What did you call me?" I was scared, really scared.
I could take an estimate that he weighed around 90 kgs, I weigh around 53. No competition from my side if the whole incident resulted in a fist fight. "I-I... called you..." trying to maintain an aggressive face and an angry tone, "I-I... called you a walking breast..."
The bulky guy banged my head on the train wall. "A WALKING BREAST! YOU FUCKING MATCH STICK!!!" using my hair, he threw me to the other side of the seating row. I was flunged and landed between the seat partition. Before I could regain my composure, he picked me up again and threw me on the other side.
This time I got up, and calculating how much more time Mira Road would take to arrive, I was trying to estimate how much time I would have to hold on my ground. He came closer, and I kicked him in the foot, and threw a punch at his face. My punch just skid off his cheeks and went away from his face. He threw a punch and it struck me right in the face. I was catapulted towards the seat and my head banged on it. Thrown away from the seat, I landed on the ground.
The guy grabbed my leg and dragged me to the pathway between the exits. He lifted his leg up and tried to stomp me. I caught his foot, stopping it midway. I twisted his ankle and got him on the ground. Someone whistled from somewhere- people do enjoy violence. But even that should be interesting I guess. I sat on him and threw 2 punches. Every punch I threw was accompanied with fear of him retaliating and over powering me. I didn't feel my punches to be strong, but maybe that is the way you feel when you are in an adrenaline rush.
The bulky beast got up, and I stepped back to the row where I was sitting. The bulky beast took a run towards me. I grabbed both the side handles above me, lifted myself up, and with a kick to his mid section, I pushed him away. He was pushed several steps back.
The announcement said "Next station Mira Road..." I got down and ran towards the other gate, away from the beast. The fucker didn't give up. he took his suitcase, and ran towards me. He swung his suitcase at me, I ducked, and ducked again. I was dodging his suitcase, which was missing my head by inches. But finally, his suitcase hit my head.
I fell down. He kept kicking me. One of his kicks blew the air out of me. Another kick was thrown at me, and I kicked his oncoming feet, pushing him away and off balance. He stumbled, and trying to keep his balance, he fell out of the train. Luckily, the train had reached Mira Road station.
The train was destined for Bhayandar. Only one stop away. I was too scared to go out of the train. So I stayed in. Since the train's destination was only a stop away, very few people were in the train now. Two good samaritans came to me and gave me a hand. "You handled yourself well," one of them said. A third samaritan came with a bottle of water. I was in shock and was trying to regain my composure.
One of them said "Do you have a kerchief?" I nodded in yes. "Clean your nose, it's bleeding."
The train left Mira Road. I have a habit of fucking up, and I think it's in my instincts. The rum kept my body numb otherwise I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to take his hits. Some people just want to pop up like pop corns and create a ruckus, it's a cure for their boredom. There's no reason for them to do what they do, but they just do it cause there has to be some activity. Some of us direct our energy to drive boredom away, productively. Others- just create a ruckus. I'm sure most terrorists are fucking istps of the world who are just bored.
Bhayandar arrived. One of the three samaritan asked me, "Where do you want to go?" I replied "I'm fine. I wanted to get down at Mira Road, but I'll have to now take a train from here only." "Go to platform number 1, you will get a slow train for Churchgate." "Thanks..." I smiled at the good person. There are good people in the world.
Everyone got down from the train, I was the only one left. Through my numb body, I could feel the places where the walking breast had hit me. I was just trying to regain my composure, trying to calculate how I could fuck up twice in one day (discounting all the mini fuck ups that I did through out the day). I regained my composure and as I was leaving the train, I saw the walking beast's suitcase.
The suitcase was so heavy that when it hit my shoulder, it hurt bad. Curious to find out what was inside it, I lifted the suitcase and exited the train. Scared of the beast waiting for me at Mira Road station, I decided not to take the suitcase with me.
I sat on the bench, placed the suitcase on my lap, and opened it. I was shocked, surprised, and flabbergasted to see what was inside. "It can be big sachets of talcum powder..." I tried to bar the obvious. Anyways, I took one sachet and shoved it in my bag.
I got up and left the suitcase at the Bhayandar. I took the train to Mira Road. There were only 3 people in the train at this time. It was almost 01:00 am- there was me, and two other men. One was standing quite at a distance from me, on the foot board. The other guy was sleeping. Reaching Mira Road station, I looked over at the platform where the bulky guy had fallen.
There was no one, just a deserted station. I climbed the stairs for the foot over bridge, and got onto the sky walk, walking my way to the auto stand. I sat on the bench on the sky walk. Removed the sachet from my pocket, swung my bag from my back to the front, retrieved a pen from it, and made a clean tear on the sachet.
I put a bit of the powder on my thigh. I wrapped up the sachet and placed it between my book in the bag. I took out a ten rupee note, rolled it into a slim jim, and snorted in the powder, not even thinking if it was talcum or what. "A fucked up day, how much more fucked up can it get," I thought. By the time I reached the stairs to alight for the auto stand, I was already smiling.
True, how much more fucked up can it get. Not too much maybe.
Nothing and no one can hurt me now.
Here's the poem I wrote in the train-
Scared of heights
I’m afraid of dirty fights
We are all going to cease
By some world wide disease
13th floor is too much
To take my life,
even the 6th floor is enough
To end my plight
If you don’t fight, you’ll get nudged, and cornered
My lips only stammer when that happens
In my fear and slain fate
I’ve forgotten my grammar
Comas come before full stops, causing my life to stammer
Maybe the glitch right now is temporary
If no one snitches out soon
I’ll be gone for permanently
The lane is full of thoughts slain and dirty games
Guys walking around in torn jeans
Girls trying to mask their pity face
Because they look at each other and turn green
It’s only the competition that people care for
It’s nothing but pity fights that they prepare for
Something goes around and comes back
They call it karma, I don’t believe it for even once
Randomness plays an important role throughout
I tried playing by the rules but was pushed out
I tried to come back and roar, but I was shut down
Maybe niceness and decency is not enough for the crowd
Fat tyres and bigger cars
Rum and hum into the parks
They are controlled by remotes in infant hands
This is their training ground,
tomorrow they have to take a stand
I’m afraid to go out in the afternoon
The ground is mine at night
With not many people to impress and judge
I’m just happy in my zone, cosy but tight
Questions asked have a lifelong cause
The marks given segregate the horde
While some go to the top class,
“leave…” others are asked
They are the ones who scored low
But I always thought intelligence is subjective
I never knew my thoughts would be so provocative
Or maybe they just don’t have brains
To understand it
But a lone tiger can’t do much in front of a 100 sheep
The world is full of them, they reap all the shallow benefits
I’m afraid to go out at night too, now
I want to be free, but how?