Reading Batul’s stirring ‘Broken People’ on this very site, has prompted me to write this piece.
EXT. COLLEGE LAWNS – A LATE EVENING OF WINTER 1990.
S, V, P and I tumble on to the soft grass of our college lawns. We have just watched Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Ashiqui’ at Bijli cinema, a stone’s throw away. We inhale Charms filter smoke and exhale Anu Agarwal, the heroine of the film.
Me: I love her lips. I just love her lips.
S: Which lips? The ones we din’t see?
Me: Shhhh…don’t….don’t go there. She is a cutie.
V: She looks like a bloody ahaya.
S: Ahaya’s cannot be hot?
Me: She is beautiful man!
V: So dark.
Me: You do jerk off to Silk Smitha.
S: Darker the woman, the more heat between the thighs. Got it?
V: Chee. I wouldn’t touch her, even for free.
P: I’d rape her until she screams in pain. Looks like a bloody bhangi.*spits and passes the cigarette to S*
S crushes the full cigarette, gets up in a huff, and leaves. P rescues the crushed cigarette and lights up again.
P: What’s got into his arse?
V: You don’t know?
Me: S is a SC.
P: So? I care a fuck about caste Ok? And what is the connection? What caste topic did we discuss?
V: P…S is a Bhangi actually. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhangi)
Me: And you called Anu Agarwal a bhangi. And that you would rape her.
P: I din’t even realize I said it. But….Really? He is really a Bhangi? Fuck off. I don’t believe you.
The four of us had been friends for over four years. Somehow, the ‘B’ word had never crept up between the four of us, until that winter evening of 1990. Later P did apologize to S, but gave up smoking shared cigarettes.
S and I were thick. On those rare occasions when we did not discuss sex or movies, we did talk politics. Like we did after attending an ancient Indian culture class.
INT. COLLEGE CANTEEN – DAY
Finishing our steaming ginger-cardamom tea, S and I fish out our 555 cigarettes (imported).We are treating ourselves.
We have accomplished the unthinkable. We sat for all the lectures! We actually took notes! And no…not once did we nudge each other at the way T wiggled her backside continuously during the lectures. We did not ogle at F’s maroon bra strap showing. And when M raised her hand to ask a question in the ancient Indian culture class, we actually paid attention to her question and not the two day old stubble in the armpit.
As we leaf through the Ancient Indian culture text book illustrations…..
S: Man, this Mohenjodaro dancing girl must have been a cracker. No?
Me: Dunno why, I always imagine this Mohenjodaro man, this bearded fatso, humping this dancing girl grunting like this Mohenjodaro bull.
S: You think she must have humped the bull too?
Me: Dunno. Possible. If the Khajurao sculptures have bestiality, then she surely must have. These Khajurao chappies were something. No? Our fucking ancestors…
S: Sure they were something. But they were not my ancestors.
Me: Come on now.
S: I am serious. They were not my ancestors.
Me: Fuck ok. Who were you ancestors then?
S: You know when these chaps…YOUR ancestors were chiseling orgies in stone, they would take breaks. Breaks for lunch. Maybe for smokes. Breaks to pee and of course breaks to crap. So when your ancestor would shit in a nearby pit and leave, my ancestor used to scurry from a hiding place, avoiding even his shadow from falling on your ancestor, and quickly fill the shit into a pan and carry it on his head to a dumping ground. That is the contribution of my ancestor to Ancient Indian culture.
S: What drama? What drama? Ok tell me what is …common between Aryabhatta, and Patanjali?
Me: Aryabhatta gave the world the zero and Patanjali gave the world Yoga.
S: Absolutely correct. But there is something else that binds them.
S: They both crapped. Everyday. Maybe they had their flashes of genius in the pot. And that shit pot my friend * he mimes the pot in air*…is the crucible of my civilization.
Me: Ok Ok…let’s change the topic.
S: Ya. Let’s do that. Cause I don’t have anything much to say. As far as I can see, smell and feel, there is only a huge pile of Ancient Indian shit in my share. And that is kind of boring to identify with all the time. Dried turds.
Me: Fuck you stop it now.
S laughs. And laughs. And laughs. Until there were tears in his eyes. He sobers up. We both smoke in silence. Sitting sprawled on the floor of the canteen, our backs to a wall, legs spread out. We are the same age, the same height. Our shoulders, waists and legs touch each other. Like Siamese twins. But separated by 5000 years of ancient Indian whatever.