My journalist friend, Arjun, and I were discussing Freud during our morning walk in the nearby small park. “Sex is the driving force of life. Sexual instincts provide energy to survive,” I said and added, “Eros, or the libido, if suppressed leads to serious mental disorders like schizophrenia, manic depression etc.”
Arjun who had been listening patiently countered, “I think, Adler’s theory of power is basic to humans. Everyone has certain inherent inadequacies or inferiorities. In a bid to incorporate themselves into the social environment with a sense of self-esteem, individuals strive for power and superiority.”
I heard footsteps right behind us.
The next day, Arjun did not come. A guy was coming from the opposite direction. He gave me a goofy smile and asked, “May I join you?”
“Myself A.N. Sangrota. Professor. I teach Commerce.”
He looked like a shopkeeper.
I asked, “How do you do Professor,” though I felt like calling him Goofy instead. It was not just the smile. He had that look on his face.
“I am okay. How are you, Sir, and what is your good name?”
I felt uncomfortable being addressed as Sir by a teacher.
“I am Samresh Bhola.”
“I have seen you loitering in this park many times,” Sangrota smiled.
He meant walking. Only figures are important to the teachers of Commerce.
“Your knowledge is mountainous.”
I knew instantly, he was the eavesdropper the previous day. The Caesar in me felt pleased with the praise, however.
“What work you do?” Goofy asked.
I told him.
“Oh, writer! What do you write?
“What type of stories?”
“I mean on what topics?”
“On any and every topic. And about people too.”
“Do you earn enough money? I mean … well … writers are not rich.”
I wanted to tell him the times have changed, but I was not in that league for whom they have. So I told him the truth.
“Not much. Some of the stories are rejected and a few are published. Besides, the payment is not exactly fat. But I supplement my income by doing translation work.”
“In that case I can help you.”
“Your English is over the top.”
Goofy seemed to have heard the phrase, and used it without getting its exact meaning. Anyway I understood what he meant.
“I will introduce you to a publisher. You write guide books for class twelve students for him. You know kunjis? You will make huge dough.”
His suggestion was in sync with the subject he taught.
“No, thanks. I am not interested,” I said.
“You don’t want to make money?”
He looked stunned. “Why?”
Explaining to him was difficult and I did not even attempt it. Even if I had, it would have been beyond him.
After a pause, he came to the point. Actually, I want to invite you to my house.”
“Why?” I asked, though as a writer I am always keen to pry into people’s houses and lives.
“Just like that. I mean for a cup of tea.”
“Only tea?” I was sure something exciting was in the offing.
“No, Sir. There will be more and plenty,” he said and laughed, “he, he, he.”
“Okay, where do you live?”
“Nearby.” Pointing his index finger, he asked, “Can you see that multi-storey building, behind the market?”
It was a huge spread. From Ras Malai, to Milk Cake, to Bedmi Kachauri, to Khandvi.
“Why did you take so much trouble,” though my mouth was salivating at the sight of goodies. To share a personal bit with you, I am a bhukkhar.
“No, Sir. This is nothing,” he protested, grinning from ear to ear.
I got down to wolfing the stuff unashamedly. I can eat like a horse. I did not give Goofy a chance to press things on me. He poured tea in two cups and took a piece of Khandvi.
“Do you live alone in such a big flat?” I asked conversationally.
“No, Sir. With my daughter. My wife died about five years back.”
“Oh, sorry about that.”
“God’s will,” Goofy raised his eyes towards the ceiling.
Then we talked about the current political scenario and social problems and increasing crime against women and so on. He showed signs of restlessness, when I went on and on with the general chit chat. He had something specific on his mind. Finally, he interrupted me and said, “Actually, I want to seek your advice.”
“About a problem my close friend is facing.”
“Why from me?”
“Sir, because you are a very wise and knowledgeable person.”
Another plus for him in my ego-diary.
“Okay. Tell me Prof. Sangrota.”
“I don’t know,” he began hesitatingly, “how to put it.”
I waited. “My friend desires a young girl… I mean sexually.”
“That’s normal,” I said between munching a kachauri.
“But there is a problem.”
“She’s his daughter’s friend and visits them frequently.”
“I don’t see any issues with that either.”
“Actually, she is like daughter to him.”
By now I had guessed what was coming. This was sure turning out to be fascinating stuff.
“Every day, he prays God save him from this sin, and yet once she is on the scene, he forgets everything else. His mind goes black.”
My attention shifted from the snacks to the narrative, which was getting to be as savoury as the snacks.
In order to ferret out more information, I asked, “Why doesn’t he visit some religious guru. He would be able to help your friend more than I or anyone else can.”
“Sir, he has,” said Goofy. “He got into the clutches of two thugs. They fleeced him of a lot of money. One of them insisted on meeting the girl and made lewd comments about her. They are scoundrels, I tell you!”
“I fully agree with you,” I said and flippantly added, “I think you should suggest to your friend, he do yoga and meditation. That would help.”
But he had not heard me, as it were. “Worse, the girl also flirts with him. It makes it more difficult for him. I mean to restrain himself.”
I wanted to probe whether it was a full-blown situation. He hesitated a little, “I mean touching her and getting that feeling... I mean biological feeling.”
He could not bring himself to use the proper expression.
“And this makes his life miserable.”
“Sure?” I asked.
He looked puzzled.
Just then an attractive, full-bodied girl about nineteen, in a body-hugging T-shirt and tight jeans breezed into the room. The tight T-shirt revealed the prominent bust in its full glory. Now, to tell you the truth, I am no saint either. But which male is, I would like ask?”
Sangrota looked troubled at her appearance. It seemed he was not expecting her.
“Hi Pops,” she cooed in a sing-song voice, bent over him and gave him a tight cheek-touching hug.
“How come you got free early today?” Sangrota asked.
“Yaa, there was some stupid lecture on increasing number of rapes. The woman from an NGO looked a moron. I skipped it.”
Then she smiled at me and extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Surajmukhi,” she said and giggled. “I mean Pops calls me that. I’m Niharika.”
Libido never sleeps and Eros is always on the prowl. “Oh, I’m Suraj. I mean my girl friend calls me that. I’m Samresh.”
“Wow! You’re sharp! I like you,” she announced, plopping down by the side of her father and looking at me playfully. She had gorgeous eyes.
“Thanks. But you are one of the most brilliant young ladies I have ever seen.”
I wanted to lay it thick.
“Thanks. You also teach?”
“No I write.”
“Wow!What sort of stuff?”
“Where do you publish?”
“In all sorts of magazines in India and abroad. Both print and online.”
Her eyes bestowed an appreciative smile on me.
“Mail to me the links. I would like to read them.”
She scribbled her e mail ID on a piece of paper and gave it to me.
“Thanks. I will.”
“You know I am doing English Honours?”
“Oh, my turn to wow! I will also give you some printouts of the ones that appeared in print journals.”
“That will be super.”
“Such a happy coincidence. Your feedback will be extremely valuable for me.”
Sangrota’s face got clouded and he fidgeted at this unforeseen development.
But before he could say anything, Niharika got up, “Right then carry on guys. You came to meet Pops, isn’t it?”
She picked up a kachauri and went into another room nibbling at it.
Goofy looked somewhat relieved, though he did not speak for some time. He seemed to have been robbed of words. I broke the silence and brought him back to the purpose for which he had invited me.
“Tell your friend not to feel guilty.”
He brightened up.
“All of us have impulses which are generally confined to the Unconscious. That is called Id. These are in fact life instincts and they are universal and very strong. Sometimes they penetrate into the Ego, that is, the Conscious.”
I used psychoanalytic lingo intentionally to impress him…. No convince him. He was all ears.
“The individual is not responsible for that.”
His face lit up and stretched into a smile – goofy, of course.
“Please explain to him that the individual is only a spectator and not the doer.”
“That fellow Fraud said all this.”
Sangrota became quite cheerful and chatty.
“I was right. I mean, you are really an ocean of knowledge! You have read so much! And you explain things so clearly!”
“Thanks Prof. Sangrota.”
“Thank youuuu, Sir. Yes, a million thanks. You don’t know how happy my friend will be. In fact, he would be deeply grateful to you.”
“Will he like to meet me?” I was again being mischievous.
Goofy ignored the question and went on, “In fact you should have been a professor in Delhi University. You would have done such a wonderful job, giving light to the young minds.”
“Don’t embarrass me professor, Sangrota.”
Suddenly, Prof. Sangrota stopped gushing. Looking towards the other room, he called out, “Nihar, uncle is leaving.”
I got the hint and stood up.
Surajmukhi came out of the room, with her enchanting smile. “Oh already?”
“Yes,” I said weaving golden dreams in my mind.
“Right then, Uncle. I have to write an assignment on lesbian sub-text in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. It was good to talk to you. Come again, Uncle,” she said and went into her room.
Rubbing in twice? Too much!
Prof. Sangrota shook my hand vigorously and profusely thanked me again. “Very kind of you for all the huge trouble you have taken in coming over and sparing your precious time.”
As I came out of his house I wondered, between the two of us who was the Goofy!