Friday, June 5, 2009

2. f

“Where’s aunty?” I ask Sneha.
“Not at home…” She says with a smile. It’s their motto. Service with a smile!
“How long?” I look around and ask grinning mischievously.
“Fifteen minutes….” She says poking my nose with a ladle in her hand.
I say “Enough for us!”

Sneha was the first girl I interacted when I arrived at this place. Her mom a small food joint opposite the campus. The rear of the joint, dissolved into their one storied bungalow. After we had finished our admission procedure, Dad desperately wanted to have a tea. Aunty’s food joint was lot more tempting than the campus canteen. Dad preferred Aunty’s Joint over the canteen. Later I knew that his choice was right and numerous other campus dwellers did the same. A cozy place, run in the backyard of the bungalow, through the kitchen window. And an adjoining door for the servants to collect the left-overs. As I accompanied my Dad to the place for the tea, The first thing that caught my eye was not the coffee machine there.

Aunty had spotted the potential customer in me then, and had started a conversation with my Dad. As our parents talked, we had talked through our glances. Some nuts are easiest to crack. And they send you an electromagnetic wave. If you catch them rightly by your antenna, you get the opportunity to crack them. It’s science. Pure science.

As we left, I throw a last look at her. And she had smiled. I had smiled back. She had then quickly waved a good bye to me, stealing a moment from her mother’s reign over her.
Later, when I was searching for a Mess in this place, I had walked up to her, at the end of the day, when she was winding up the joint alone. I helped her gather the plastic chairs and foldable tables and arrange them in a neat stack at a corner of the backyard. Starting from the mess, we talked about thousand other things. About life, about the place and about each other. The chord was struck then. And the music played till date.

I slowly crept my hand inside the window slit Aunty had made for serving stuff and reached for her hand. She whacked on it with the ladle. I pulled it back with an impulse. She laughs.

I turn back. I see Rahul entering the joint. Harshad’s old friend from To conceal the mishap, I wave to him. He doesn’t wave back. He is obviously pissed with me. Like many others who are a target of my mockery. What could I do if he looked like Tej Sapru of all. Harshad had opened my eyes to this fact. It was his college fact. I just traced it further. I started with calling him Tej Sapru. Then Sapru Saahab and then Tej. Unfortunately, people had started calling him Tej like me. He was busy these days suppressing the wave.

“Ask him what he wants…” Sneha winked at me. I took up her demand for entertainment.

“Oye Tej…kya lega re…what will you have?” I ask him at the top of my voice. Everybody hears it. He gives me a fiery stare. I see aunty coming. I quickly turn back, pick up my sandwich and get seated away from the window. I am about to take a bite and I see a shadow hovering over me. I turn in its direction. Rahul stands beside me.

“Arey Tej…..What happened?” I ask playfully.
“My name is Rahul…not Tej…this is the last time I am telling you this…next time I won’t tell you…” That was a threat. I had realized it. Sometimes I am scared of situations. I have a pent-up fear of them.
“That means you would get used to it by then….” I joked smartly to avoid the situation.
“Too much of smartness has got into your arse eh??....Its not difficult for me to beat it out…” It infuriates him further.

I stand up facing him.

“Last time” he says sternly and leaves.

I am shaken. Yet I appear to be calm. I sit down and I bite into my sandwich with trembling feet. Was I scared. Yes I was. Inside my pretentious fearless self, lies a coward. I cannot fight. The fear of getting beaten up grips me. I can’t face an opponent into his eyes. I cant react quickly to his physical assault. All I can do is destroy the opponent completely with my brain. That is my way of responding. I always believe that, those who cannot use their brain, use their hands. I use the brain. That is all that I know about myself. That I have a brain. And therefore I am.
I chew the sandwich with a determination. I have to find a retort for Rahul. I cant keep getting threatened in public places. Especially like these. I throw a fake smile at Sneha.

Somebody closes my eyes tight suddenly. I can feel gentle fingers pressing my eyelids.

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