Sunday, 23 August 2009

That Greek God... Part 5

“I’m sure you’re mistaken.” Jahnavi said scornfully, annoyed with my comprehensive funeral song.
“I’m not. They are getting married. They have shopped so much. Vichitra told me herself.” I wailed.
I blew noisily into the nth tissue that she handed over and mopped my nose in an unladylike fashion. Sniffling pathetically, I stared out of the window. My love life had ended even before it had begun.
“How can this happen to me? It’s not fair!” I wrung out melodramatically.
“Phew, cut the drama di. Seri, let’s get this clear. So you think this Vichitra is getting married to Karthik, right? Well, then it’s good; because you have a Veerappan in your life. Simple!!”
“*&**U&&*(*^ %$^^*&*(**%#@%**&*^)^&%&^*).... ”
“Alright, alright, chill!! I couldn’t resist that.” she said, tongue in cheek.
Yeah! Whatever…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I was sneaking out a spoonful of chocolate ice cream from the refrigerator when the doorbell rang. I nearly dropped some  of the precious stuff. Seconds later I most definitely did when Amma yelled my name out and came over searching for me. The mess created on the floor wouldn’t have attracted her attention except that I made it a point to fashion hills, plateaus and plains out of it as I chased a small dicey glob around hoping to salvage at least that.
“Anu, what are you doing? I had swabbed the kitchen just a few hours back. You had to put your stamp on that, didn’t you?”
Amma swatted my hands away irritably and proceeded to wipe the physical map off the tiles.
“Someone has come looking for you. A weird boy…Why do you make such friends anyway?”
Frowning, I walked into the living room to see who it was. Paati and Veerappan were eyeing each other like a pair of opposing gladiators in Circus Maximus. I could almost hear the swords clashing to the cheer of the general crowd. Jahnavi stood on the other side, her jaw hung open.
Veerappan has that effect on people. One would wonder if he somehow missed the normal course of evolution and landed directly in his current avatar. His resemblance to the most perspicacious of the ape family in the antediluvian era is remarkable. Privately, I think it is to do with his facial expression; a permanent fixture of a “Thinking Man” gone horribly wrong.
All the three of them registered my presence at the same time. Veerappan appended a huge grin to his hominoidal self, much to the disgust of Paati. Jahnavi rolled her eyes deprecatingly and retreated into the study.
“Paati, idhu ennoda friend Veerappan. Veerappan, meet Paati.” I introduced them to each other.
Paati nodded and moved away. I invited him to sit on the couch and occupied the seat on the other side.
“Veerappan! What are you doing here?” I hissed. I saw Paati occupy a chair at the dining table with steely resolve. She spread open the newspaper and I had a strong sense of foreboding. Thank God!! His back is to the dining table.
“Anu, you had left your purse at the café. I don’t think you noticed that.”
“Oh! Thank you so much. It’s got my movie tickets inside.”
I took the purse from him with a grudging sense of gratitude. I didn’t know what to say after that. You don’t meet the guys again; the ones whom you reject. You just say no, and flee the scene.
“Anu, why did you do a runner on me like that?” he asked miserably.
I grew impatient, “You said you wanted to talk about something really important. And you asked me out. What else did you expect me to do?”
“I really like you. Why are you so worried about accepting that?”
“You had asked Vidya out just last month. Are you crazy?”
Even if it is not for Vidya, I will never say yes to you, you moron!!
He cleared his throat, “Adhu vera. Idhu vera.” (That's different. This is different.)
“What? What do you mean by that?”
“Adhu puppy love, idhu true love. (That's puppy love, this is true love.)” he said smugly.
OMG!!! Where is he from?? The shooting set of a 1970s movie??
Paati shifted in her chair and I caught sight of her scrutinizing the whole scenario with narrowed eyes, from behind the newspaper. I knew curiosity did not provoke this. This arose more from the fact that a certain Veerappan was sitting in front of me.
“Listen Veerappan, I would prefer it if you just left now. I have already told you I am not interested. Please don’t make this more difficult for either of us.” I said firmly.
He sighed resignedly.
“Anu, you seem to be pretty disturbed now. I will meet you later.”
He got up and walked towards the front door. I tagged along to close the door after him. Turning around suddenly, he raised his brow.
“By the way, I saw you getting into the guy’s car after the traffic policeman let you go. Do you know him?”
“Solli vei. Indha Veerappan kku adhu ellam pidikaadhu. Varata?” (Tell him. This Veerappan doesn't like stuff of that kind. I will be back.)
I closed the door behind him and leaned on it tiredly. What a day!!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Pera paaru. Veerappan… Soorappan nnu. Edhukku vandhanaam? (Look at his name. Veerappan… Soorappan… why did he come?) ” Paati asked grouchily.
“I had forgotten my purse when I met my friends today. He returned it back.”
Smiling maliciously, Jahnavi munched on a slice of apple.
“Oh, was that all that he came for?” she quipped quietly.
I snarled, “Chumma iru. Paati kku paambu kaadhu.” (Shut your mouth. Paati’s got the ears of a snake.)
Paati continued, “Avanum, avanoda thalaiyum. Seriyana paraka vetti pola irukkan. Avanoda Amma Appa avan kitta endhum solla maataala??” (Look at him and his head. He looks like an idiot. Don’t his parents tell him anything at all?)
“His family is cool, Paati.” Jahnavi grinned cheekily.
“Enna cool? Yaarukkume micham vekkame, ella kuppaiyum avanoda thalai la pottundu sutharaan. Adhaan cool aa? (What is cool? He’s carrying around all the trash in this world on that stupid head of his without leaving anything for the rest of us over here. And that’s cool?) ” she retorted.
Jahnavi and I burst into giggles.
“Paati, nee solradhe ellam avan kitta poi sollidava? (Shall I tell him that you’ve been saying all this??)” Jahnavi asked innocently. Kedi!!
“Chumma iru di. Nee vera. Avane oru Rowdy maadhri irukkan. Apram, Maayaandi Muniyandi nnu adi aalu azhachindu vara poran.” (Keep quiet. He looks like a rowdy alright. He might bring in a Maayaandi and a Muniyandi for beating us all up.)
Both of us collapsed into fits of laughter.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
To be cont…

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

That Greek God... Part 4b

Karthik was apparently acquainted with Mr. Murugan, the fat traffic policeman. Oh, don’t ask how. I don’t even want to know. A few shoulder thumps, handshakes and a million grunts later, Mr. Murugan finally let us go.
“Always, carry a license with you.” he advised seriously.
We nodded in acquiescence and pulled our bike out. Jahnavi seemed to be in a hurry to get out of the place. I had changed my mind. I mentally gave Mr. Murugan permission to catch me how many ever times he wanted to for violation of traffic rules, as long as Karthik bailed me out of trouble.
I gaped at Karthik dreamily. It was a criminal offence for a guy to be this handsome. He abruptly came into my visual focus.
“Anu? Are you girls okay?” he enquired gently.
“Huh?? Uhh.. yeah. Of course. We are okay. Thank you so much for helping us out. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“Ahh, that’s nothing. Anything to help my athai’s two beautiful neighbours.” he teased.
I blushed on cue and could feel my feet develop tiny wings; ready to let me glide a few inches above ground.
Jahnavi started the vehicle and looked worriedly at me.
“Anu, I don’t think I have time to drop you back home. I am already late for my extra class. Can you take an auto rickshaw?”
“Why do you have to take an auto rickshaw? I am going home right now. I’ll take you.” Karthik intervened.
This time my heart soared, breached the cosmos and levitated at an infinite distance.
“Oh, that would be great. Thanks a lot Karthik. Is that okay, Anu?”
“I will be absolutely fine. You carry on”
I could hear A. R. Rahman’s romantic medley in the BG.
I waved Jahnavi off and walked over to his car. He opened the rear door for me and I got into the sleek machine. The BG reached a crescendo and teetered on the edge, when it suddenly crashed.
Vichitra, who had been sitting in the front turned around to smile at me. Karthik got in behind the wheel and introduced us to each other.
“Vichitra, meet Anu, my athai’s neighbour. Anu, meet Vichitra; she is with Sarvam, the theatre group. You must have heard about her. She’s one mean director, trust me.”
“Karthik!” she protested, “He’s just trying to make it sound bad. I am not that stringent.”
Their playful joust brought a smile to my face even though I was feeling weird inside. Karthik keyed the car to life and we started.
We stopped at Vichitra’s house to drop her off.
“Karthik, would you open the car boot please? I need to get all those bags out.” she purred.
I got out of the car for courtesy’s sake and watched as they both hauled gigantic shopping bags out from the boot. Vichitra dropped several and I bent down to pick them up. Somehow, we managed to take them all inside and Vichitra thanked me profusely.
“Wow, that was some shopping.” I said without thinking.
“Yeah, it’s my wedding. I’m allowed to, right?” she giggled and winked at him.
I suddenly lost all sensation. The place around me was abuzz with activity and yet I felt so unconnected. It was as if someone threw a massive bubble-wrap around me; enveloping me in its vacuum.
Handing over a few bags to Karthik, she reminded him, “Those are yours Karthik. How can you forget?”
Karthik and I strolled back to where he had parked his car. Somehow I don’t remember the rest of the journey home.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
To be cont…

That Greek God... Part 4a

Sometimes, I wonder if my destiny for that day was decided when the committee of Gods was trying to quell down a stampede of angry rhinoceroses in remote Africa. My application form must have been flicked over to a random spam folder. A tiny action, I’d agree. But the reaction was definitely in terms of chaos theory…

The cold coffee stared cheerfully back at me, with tiny rivulets of condensation falling off the surface of its tall glass container. He sat opposite me, stirring his cappuccino in a disconcerted way. The crestfallen foam disappeared dolefully into the coffee and I wondered about his inspiration behind ordering a cappuccino after all. His hair stood out in sharp spikes, glistening in all glory, putting the most handsome porcupine in South America to shame. And all I could see were these spikes which I am sure were supplemented with the latest fertilizer in the market that the experts call “hair gel”, as he bent his head into his coffee and refused to look up.

My aural antennae had perceived not even one syllable out of his mouth after he had thanked the serving assistant for our drinks. What is he thinking? And why is he swirling the spoon round and round in his cup? Sukhi Dawant was gyrating her way around a huge crowd of drunken men in the colossal flat screen TV on the wall next to our table and even she had failed to catch his attention. Should I be happy about that? In another time and world, I would have probably appreciated his diligence in twirling the coffee into a whirlpool. Suddenly, I lost it.

“Stop please! Your spoon’s just making me dizzy.” I said urgently.

I had successfully startled him out of his trance and he hurriedly pulled the spoon out. R.I.P!!

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” he apologized weakly.

“Is there something wrong? Why aren’t you talking at all?” I inquired curiously.

An instant transformation came over his countenance which otherwise was brimming with the misery of a depressed ape gawking longingly at a pile of yellow bananas beyond its reach. His face lit up with the glow of a thousand GE bulbs. Someone apparently had answered his call for help. What I did not realize was my contribution towards it.

He jerked out of his chair, walked purposefully around the table and stood next to me. I looked quizzically at him. What now? Are we getting out of this place? Before I could get up, he dropped down to one knee in an ostentatious gesture.

“Anu,” he said seriously with profound feeling, “I like you…. Will you be my girlfriend?”

“VEERAPPAN!! What are you doing?” I yelled horrified.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“And what did he say for that?” Jahnavi questioned amusedly.

“What can he say? I can’t believe he asked me out in that café. I nearly died of mortification.”

I had refused flatly and stormed off before he could even grasp my rejection. Veerappan must have been out of his mind. Ugghh!!!

“Poor Anu!! Still, Veerappan seems like a nice guy. You shouldn’t have said no to him.” she said mischievously.

“Are you crazy? He’s like a circus monkey brought around on a tour. You do not say yes to monkeys when they ask you out.”

Jahnavi evaded the potholes expertly as she maneuvered the vehicle in and out of traffic. She pulled to a stop behind an auto rickshaw and quickly balanced the two-wheeler. I leaned over to my right and groaned in frustration when I saw the traffic jam stretching for miles ahead.

“I told you not to take this road. Now, we will be stuck here for hours.” I reproached.

She tailed the auto rickshaw for some time and quickly weaved into a small gap. Ahh! The joy of riding a two-wheeler in Chennai… Within fifteen minutes she had turned left into a small road to take an alternate route. A burly traffic policeman flagged us down immediately and Jahnavi had to halt.

“Yes sir?” she posed respectfully. I got off the bike and stood next to her.

“One way.” he said, laconic in his statement, but conveying a profundity of meaning.

I could almost hear Jahnavi kick herself mentally.

Hell and Damnation!! I just hope she has the right papers to show him.

“Sir, paakaama vandhuttom (We didn’t notice it) . Sorry sir. This won’t happen again.” she said, genuinely remorseful.

“Paakaama vandhuteengala? Yen ma, partha padicha ponnunga maadhri irukeenga. One-way nnu theriyaliya? (You didn’t notice it? You girls look educated and decent. Didn’t you notice it was a one-way route?)” he quipped.

“We’re really sorry, sir. We will pull back into the main road from here.” I suggested.

He raised his brow in a wry manner and set things into motion.

“License irukka? R.C book enge? Ellam kaattu paarkalaam.” (Show me your license. Your R.C. book. Show me all your papers)

Jahnavi parked the bike, opened the tiny compartment in the front and rummaged it in vain. Appa had given the vehicle for service the previous day and had emptied the booth. Great! We never carried our original driver’s license cards with us and always depended on the photocopies that were stored in the vehicle.

“License illa, sir. Veetula irukku nnu nenakkeren.” (We do not have our license with us. I guess we left it at home)

“What? You don’t have your driver’s license with you? Epdi ma, vandi ya dheiryama ottareenga? (You girls have guts, to ride your bike without a license)” he spluttered.

“This is the first time it’s happened like this. We’re really sorry.” I muttered.

“Hmmm… Seri, oru 1000 rupees fine kattitu, kelambunga.” (Okay, pay a fine of Rs. 1000 and leave)

We blanched when we heard the figure. A thousand bucks? The policeman’s greed seemed the size of his own pot belly.

“Sir, we do not have so much money. Epdi sir, fine kattardhu?” (How will we pay the fine?)

“Oh, idhu license illama vandi ottarche theriyaliya? Seri, irukattum. (Oh, You didn’t expect this when you were roaming around without a driver’s license. Leave it.). Pay a fine of Rs 500 and take a receipt for it.”

“We don’t have even that much.” I said desperately.

“Seri, oru 100 rupees kuda illiya? (You girls don't even have a hundred bucks?)” he asked disbelievingly.

We shook our heads in negation. I couldn’t believe the level he had come down to. The bargaining which he did with us would have seated well with a woman selling Keerai Kattu (Spinach) in Mylapore.

He stared at us doubtfully, unsure of how to proceed further. Scratching his fat, bald cranium, he came to a decision.

“You leave the vehicle here. Come and collect it from the R T O tomorrow morning.”

Just then, a car came to a stop next to us. The wind blew in pleasantly as Karthik got out with an élan.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To be cont…