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Mamata Banerjee’s heaven looked like hell. The platform was so crowded we were encumbered every time we tried to walk freely. It was almost 8 and we still had half hour to kill. For such dedicated Ornithologists like us, killing time was no difficult task. The grip we had on that beautiful subject called Ornithology was truly exceptional.
I’ve been to Railway Stations many times in my life, but one thing that is still not clear to me is why people prefer to stand at the tip of the platform to check the arrival of the train. The real tragedy is that it has influenced me as well. So, instinctively, I went and crossed the yellow line and stood at the tip. I bent (again by practice) and the smell that came from the railway track made me retch. But what I did see on the track made me nostalgic for a minute. There were some Piglets and a big Sow searching for their world’s pizzas and burgers. That scene reminded me of a nursery rhyme I’d learnt as a kindergarten boy:
Piggy on the railway,
Picking up stones,
Along came the engine
And broke poor Piggy’s bones.
“Oh” said the Piggy, “That’s not fair”
“Oh” said the Engine, “I don’t care”
I smiled at those Piggies and some atavistic reflex made me feel that I had to get back to my gang – immediately.
Railway Station is a place where one gets to see every type of people. Page 3 delicate darlings to village tough heads, Babies to Babes, decent boys (like us) to indecent ‘yo-yo’ boys with studs all over their bodies that always scream ‘I’m-a-moron-please-look-at-me,’ early teens that behave like omniscient to late teens that look obscured, middle aged ‘big’ boys and girls that look tensed to old aged ‘very big’ boys and girls that look mystified by everything around them, so on and so forth.
As I was observing the people around me, I saw two aunties that were holding their babies in their arms, and the babies were looking at each other in mute amazement. I wonder what was going on in their little heads. A few moments later, one of the aunties gave her baby a lolly pop and the other baby started crying suddenly. Was it because it didn’t have a lolly-pop like the other, or did the baby with the lolly-pop swear something in encrypted baby language that offended the one without a lolly-pop? I really could not decipher. There are so many things in this world that are beyond our understanding. So I just laughed and turned toward my gang which was checking out a group of ‘oh-so’ babes. This sudden transformation from baby world to babe world made me obtuse for a minute. After all I had to suit myself to the changed environment.
A minute later a new girl made an entry onto the platform. Oh boy, what a girl she was! She was so beautiful it sent chills down my spine. She was wearing blue jeans and a black sleeveless top. Her lustrous wavy black hair was let loose, which took pleasure in disturbing her expressive, pellucid, almond shaped eyes, and delicate, sensuous lips. She was wearing a beaded black bracelet on the right hand with which she occasionally brushed her curls to the back of her ears, gently, beautifully. Thin shoulder blades and a tattoo on her creamy left arm, full breasts, shapely hips and legs – all accentuated by her slim waistline. She was a stunning beauty.
Did I say beautiful? Correction. She was drop dead crazy gorgeous. She must’ve been sent from heavens to show us mortals what beauty was. I was speechless. I had never enjoyed poetry until now. She was the poem, and I was completely ruined.
“To have ruined one’s self over poetry is an honour.”
After a while when I came back to my senses and looked at my gang, I found that they were still floating in the ‘new babe’ world. When I looked at their jaw-dropped faces, I knew perfectly well about their on going imaginations. Hari was already having coffee with her (literally, I mean), Deepu was teaching her Electronic Circuits in the college library (well, this is the maximum his creative faculty could afford to imagine), and Dheemant had already started live-in relationship with her (and this is something called height of imagination). And me? Well, I have a theory. Enjoy Beauty as much as possible, but never mess with it unless you are sure that it doesn’t cause any serious repercussions. Or else the beauty may become the beast.
“One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.”
I was sure of one thing though. None of us were thinking of approaching her, because she was a kind of girl, to approach whom, you need the looks of Hrithik Roshan and the confidence of Barrack Obama – which none of us had. But I didn’t know then that one of us would prove it wrong.
After some more moments of studying her, Dheemant announced suddenly, “I am in love with that girl.”
“Yeah. Me too,” all three of us said in chorus, not taking our eyes off her.
She was now standing with her arms folded with ear phones in her ears. Dheemant turned to us with fire in his eyes and said, “Do you guys think I’m joking? I’m not, all right? So you better start treating her as your sister-in-law.”
We were stunned to hear this. It’s not what he said that bothered us, but the intensity and seriousness with which he said. We couldn’t believe our ears when he said it. I mean, come on. Seeing a stunning chick and saying “ooh aah out” is OK, but love? Gosh, that’s such a heavy word. Above all, we had a rule. ‘Nobody is supposed to have a commitment so early in life, because we never know what is in store for us in the future.’ That was for our own well being, you see. Electronic gadgets and chicks keep getting better and better with each passing day. But Dheemant had broken our rule. Of course rules are meant to be broken, but certainly not this one.
“I’m going to propose to her,” Dheemant dropped the bomb.
“What?” All three of us asked in chorus.
“Yes. You heard it right, guys. I’m going to do it.”
“You mean now? In the railway station?” Hari asked.
“Yes, dude. You are right,” said Dheemant with full confidence.
“Hey, come on. It’s already 8.10. The train may come at any time soon. And above all, you don’t even know her. You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said getting a little concerned about him (well, I was also jealous).
“Oh, not at all, Kishore. I’ve never been as serious in my life as I am right now. The moment I saw her, I knew. I knew she was the one. There is this spark I got in my heart as soon as I saw her. I mean, it’s not just about her beauty, man. It’s just there is something in her that attracted me and made me fall in love with her.”
Hari muttered under his breath, ‘there is something? I mean there are lots of other important things in her to make a guy go mad. Only something? Such a moron.’
Dheemant continued, “It’s my destiny, guys. You don’t believe me? All right, consider this. You know I was not going to come to the Railway Station. But I decided to do so at the last minute. Why? Because, this modern angel we are seeing right now was supposed to meet me today. Did you guys get the logic?”
Did he say logic? Did he really say logic? I think he did. But thank God, he didn’t have any aspirations of becoming a math professor.
We didn’t really have any other go, so we nodded at each other and I asked him, “So, how are you going to do it?”
“I don’t know. But I’m going to do it somehow,” answered Dheemant with the same certitude he’d shown before.
“Are you sure, my friend? From where I can see, she is dressed in money. Looks like a high society girl. A perfect page three material,” Deepu observed.
Dheemant put his hand on Deepu’s shoulder and said, “Listen to me, son. Let me tell you something I firmly believe in. Whether a girl belongs to a high society or otherwise, page three material or otherwise, beautiful or not beautiful, intelligent or a bimbo, when it comes to wooing her, every girl is the same. Reactions may be different, but ultimately, a girl’s a girl. And it all depends on how good your broom is, to sweep the girl off her feet.”
“But, dude, don’t you think this is the age of vacuum cleaners and not broom sticks? I mean, one needs to suck these days, not sweep,” said Deepu, and Hari sniggered.
“Yeah, I’ll do whatever it takes,” he was annoyed.
“But, dude, what if she already has a boy friend?” Hari asked.
“I don’t think she has a boy friend.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because she has come to the Railway Station alone. If she had a boy friend, don’t you think he’d have come to drop her?”
Wow, that’s some analysis.
“How about this? She may be going to Bangalore to meet him. He could be waiting there to receive her.”
And this is what I call logic.
“All right, it’s possible. But, she will have fallen in love with me by the time she gets on the train. So it’s not a big deal.”
Shabhas, mere Jeethe, shabhas. That’s something called height of confidence.
“You are crazy, aren’t you?” Deepu asked. It was a rhetorical question of course.
“It’s all right if you don’t believe it, but still it doesn’t matter to me if she has a boy friend.”
“Oh, really? Why not?” Deepu was insistent. Hari and I were mute spectators for the ongoing drama.
“I have a theory called ‘Football Theory’.”
“Football Theory? What the hell is that?” Deepu asked, crinkling his eyes. Hari and I were equally puzzled.
“Well, Football Theory says, ‘What’s the fun in scoring goals when there is no goal keeper?’”
Bingo! That’s some theory. I felt like whistling and clapping. I should agree that this was the best dialogue of the day, or probably the best dialogue of the semester. I was sure a lot of people belonging to DOSLA (Desperate One Sided Lovers’ Association) would find hope in this dialogue. Now, looking at Hari’s and Deepu’s faces, I could easily tell they too agreed with me tacitly. Except Dheemant, all of us laughed hysterically. In that moment of euphoria, some people stared at us, including our dear sister-in-law. So, with the Football Theory explained to us, even Deepu started supporting Dheemant. After all, he was showing all the symptoms of becoming a love guru some day. We couldn’t have taken chances with him by annoying him.
“So how are you going to do it?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’ll just go with the flow. Will tell whatever that comes to my mind.”
Deepu, Hari and I didn’t say anything for a few seconds, for we were a bit surprised. Finally, Deepu said, “Ok. Let’s see how you do it. Go on, my boy. All the best.” With that being said, Dheemant set out on a Mission – Mission Impossible 4. Ha! Tom Cruise would’ve been so proud of him.
When he was walking toward her, my heart palpitated. I didn’t and I still don’t know why. Was it because he was one of my best friends and I was concerned about him? Or was it simply because I was afraid of getting slapped by my ‘to-be-or-not-to-be’ sister-in-law for getting involved in the game? I couldn’t solve that mystery.
When he was just a few feet away from the girl, Hari, Deepu and I went and stood a few paces behind her so that we could hear the conversation clearly. It was definitely a dangerous position to stand, but we were ready to take the risk. When we were comfortably standing behind a bench that was between us and the girl, I said, “She is really beautiful, isn’t she?”
“Are you kidding me? She is ‘booty-full’,” said Hari and we giggled.
Dheemant, before approaching her, took out his pocket comb and combed his hair. He then took out his goggles, checked his hair in it and kept it back inside his pocket. After doing these monkey tactics, he started walking briskly and went past her, took a U-turn and came to us.
“Hey, why did you do that?” I asked.
“I’m getting tensed, guys,” said Dheemant and started biting his nails.
To put some fire back in his heart, I said, “So, she is not the one after all?”
He immediately responded, “Of course she is the one. That’s why this is becoming tough.” I could sense Hari and Deepu giggling beside us. Dheemant made up his mind and departed from us again.
This time too, he went past her without stopping. I thought he would come to us again, but no. He went back and stood right in front of her. Finally. This was the moment we were all waiting for. We held our breath and started to eavesdrop.
“Excuse me. Could you please tell the exact time? I have to set it on my mobile phone.”
The girl removed her ear phones from her ears and said, “Sorry?” He said it again. She said, “8.15” and put her ear phones back in her ears. Her body language clearly showed that she wasn’t interested in talking to him. Poor Dheemant.
But he was not a loser to let it go without trying harder. He had once said that his grandfather once auditioned for the role of Raja Vikram in a TV serial titled ‘Vikram-Betaal,’ but was given the role of Betaal instead. So what? Now the grandson was hell-bent on realizing his grandfather’s dream.
He set the time on his mobile phone (or acted like he did) and asked, “Are you supposed to be the most beautiful girl in the city?”
The girl removed her ear phones and put them in her pocket. She might have realized that it was simply not possible to hear music until Dheemant got away from her. She said, “Sorry?” in the same style as before.
Dheemant repeated his dialogue once again, “Are you supposed to be the most beautiful girl in the city?” and waited for her reply with a flirtatious grin on his face.
She brought her right hand to her face and brushed her curls to the back of her ears and said simply, “Yes.”
Her reply must have blown his mind away. That was one of the most artistic replies to one of the most pathetic questions ever asked. She said it without being presumptuous or angry. It seemed like she just knew who she was without ever comparing herself with anyone in the world. Now that’s what I call attitude.
Normally, when a boy compliments a girl and she replies, ‘No’ with a smile on her face, it just means that he has to say it again with much more explanation and conviction. But how would you react to a girl who is in perfect agreement with what you said about her? That’s what I had to find out. So I kept my eyes peeled and ears open.
“Of course. Who else would know it better than you,” said Dheemant.
That was a good start.
She didn’t respond. So he continued, “By-the-bye, I’ve seen you before.”
‘That’s the age old dialogue, you moron. Try something new,’ I wanted to scream.
“That means, either you are very famous, or you have a common face. I wonder which one is true?”
There was some improvement finally.
Now the girl responded with full force, “First of all, I don’t know why you are talking to me. Secondly, to answer your question, if at all I’m famous like you said I am, it’s because of guys like you. And I don’t care whether I have a common face or not.”
“Oh, I’m such a moron. Of course you don’t have a common face. You are unique.”
The boy was trying his level best, but the girl still didn’t care. Well, what can I say? I wasn’t surprised.
“Look here…” she was saying, but Dheemant cut in suddenly, “I am.”
“No. Nothing. You were saying something?”
“Are you trying to flirt with me?”
“It’s such a pity that girls nowadays are getting too paranoid. Trust me, Anusha. I’m not TRYING to flirt with you. I’m actually doing it.”
Presto! This was the second one liner of the day. But how did he know her name? Did he know her? Not personally, but by some other source?
“How the hell do you know my name?” the girl asked.
Exactly my question, dear.
“Oh, come on. Now please don’t say you don’t know me.”
“Of course I don’t know you.”
He was really playing it nice. But I still didn’t get how he knew her. Hari and Deepu were equally flummoxed.
“You don’t know me? Are you sure?”
“Yes,” the girl was growing impatient.
“Wow! That’s wonderful, dear. Even I don’t know who you are. See, our frequency matches so well. We could be good friends then. What say?”
We desperately wanted to see her reaction and took a few steps sideways.
And we weren’t disappointed. For the first time she smiled. And what a smile it was! It was like getting 86% attendance when only 85% is required. It was also like getting 16 marks in internals and 36 marks in externals when only 15 and 35 are required.
Then she said, while the smile still lingered on her face, “Are you crazy? Or is it just that you are the King of PJs?”
Dheemant gave one of his best sheepish grins and said, “Both.”
“I thought so,” she answered.
“Ok, jokes apart, I was wondering if we could….” Before he could finish his line, she said, “I know where you are getting at. But it’s not possible. It’s just that you are not my type.”
Dheemant clearly looked disappointed.
“Not your type? Then who is your type?”
This was the question he shouldn’t have asked.
“Well, my type is waiting for me in Bangalore and I’m going there to meet him.”
So Deepu’s logic was right. “See, I told you. I told you, her guy was waiting for her there,” he jumped up and down.
“All right, all right. Now keep quiet,” Hari snapped.
“Hey, listen. You don’t understand. The moment I saw you, I knew you were the one for me. It’s not just about your beauty. It’s something else. You know it’s like the wind. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, but you can always feel it. Why don’t you give me a chance to prove it?”
I wonder where the hell he picked up those stupid and disgusting lines from. I mean, which idiot says all these on the first day itself? It was totally unlike Dheemant. Had he lost his mind, or was he really serious about her being the one for him like he said? At least was he sincere? If not, was it a terrible thing? I think not.
“Insincerity is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities.”
When I looked at her, it was too conspicuous from her expression that she perfectly agreed with my thoughts.
“Now why are you behaving like an age old monkey-brained movie obsessed demented juvenile? For a moment I thought you were quite sensible. But never mind. Didn’t you hear what I said? I have a boy friend.”
“Oh, yeah. Right. So he’s like Brad Pitt and rides a Yamaha R1?”
“Bloody hell. What made you say that?”
“It’s too obvious, isn’t it?”
“No, it isn’t. As a matter of fact, he has not even started earning. And to say something about his looks; all I can say is, he’s not even as handsome as you are.”
“You are playing me, aren’t you? It’s a big fat lie.”
“People only lie to their loved ones and that’s a hard fact. But sometimes there’s no problem in telling the truth to strangers. So I’m not lying to you. Now if you are having any more imaginations of flirting with me again just because I said you are handsomer than my boy friend, then you would definitely be taking a crazy walk on the wrong side. If I went for the looks, I could’ve had the handsomest boy in the city.”
Splendid. I wish every good looking babe were like this.
Having said that, she removed her i-pod from her pocket and put the ear phones back in her ears. Then she said to Dheemant who still looked befuddled and hopeless, “You seem like a good person. Whatever it was you expected from me, at least you didn’t misbehave with me like an uncultured scumbag. That’s one important aspect girls will notice in you. Now go and enjoy your time. There are far more beautiful things in the world to think about.”
I couldn’t see his face then. I wanted to interfere and ask her to consider his proposal once again, but I held back.
“I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do. If a personality fascinates me, whatever mode of expression that personality selects is absolutely delightful to me.”
She was certainly charming. She certainly made a lot of sense. And she put it nicely without hurting Dheemant. But before I could think of anything else, she turned to us and said, “Take care of your friend,” and pressed the button on her i-pod and lifted her bag from the ground, for the second bell had already rung.
I was balled over, and so were Hari and Deepu. I tried to take refuge in them, but their expressions said that they needed more assurance than I. By-the-bye, how did she know that Dheemant was with us? She must’ve noticed us some time ago when we were planning Dheemant’s moves. Smart chick, I should say. Dheemant had already come to us with a heavy heart when I was having these thoughts.
After having listened to all the things she had said to Dheemant, one thing was very clear. She was a very nice person. Cultured, no arrogance, but lots of attitude, sensible, and above all, she was far more mature than all of us. If there was any other girl in her place, Dheemant would have had a full bashing.
‘My boy friend is not even as handsome as you are.’ There are two possible conclusions for this statement: either she was telling the truth, or she was just being nice and sweet to Dheemant. I actually prefer the latter, but by some fluke of chance if it is the former, then our future is really bright.
It was very clear from Dheemant’s expression that he was heart broken. We decided not to disturb him for a while and let him recover on his own. A minute later, the train arrived on the platform and Hari got ready with his bag. People started flocking the compartments and the train resembled the tea stall that was off the platform with hundreds of flies whizzing around. In fact, the people outnumbered the flies.
Dheemant took full care in getting Hari in a compartment that was at least 10 compartments away from the one in which my ex-Bhabhiji was. When he was comfortably sitting inside the train, we stood by the window. Dheemant still looked disappointed.
“It’s all right, man,” Hari was saying, “You’ll get over it. Just like the girl said, there are far more beautiful girls in the world to think about. So chillax. You’ll be just fine.”
She didn’t say ‘beautiful girls’. All she said was ‘beautiful things’. But the modification was a good idea to cajole him. After reminding Hari once again about the list of things to be bought, we bid him adieu. The engine started and it vanished in a few seconds, along with Hari.
Once the train was gone we started walking on the platform slowly. Neither Deepu nor I knew how to start the conversation with Dheemant. Finally, I scrounged up some courage and said, “Don’t worry, man. Everything will be all right. She is the past now. You know, Oscar Wilde once said, ‘The one charm of the past is that it is the past’.”
Dheemant looked at me furiously and cried, “Screw Oscar Wilde, man.”
It was a wrong quote at the wrong time, I guess.
“OK. Let’s leave that thing out. Now tell me, how did you know her name?” Deepu asked, trying to divert his attention.
“No big secret, man. When you guys were standing behind her, she got a call and she acknowledged herself. That’s all.”
It was blatant from Dheemant’s expression that he’d lost all his energy and enthusiasm. When the girl lectured him, I was in total agreement with her. But now, after seeing his pitiful face, I thought otherwise.
“The only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.”
It was just 8.40 am, but it felt like 1 pm. The summer morning and a ‘babe’ experience had squeezed all the juice from our bodies. Just outside the Railway Station there was a fruit juice parlour. We decided to quench our thirst and went there. Soon after we ordered our drinks, I saw a lovely girl dressed in maroon selwar suit walk past the juice parlour. I ran outside, and there she was standing with a delicious sense of repose on her face, near the parking lot, holding her bag in both hands, and occasionally taking care of her curls in one hand in a typical girlie fashion. I have always loved to watch a girl do it. She looked very pretty in her dress and the poise with which she stood added an extra edge to her beauty. She stood there in the shadow for a few more seconds and stepped into the sunlight when a car approached the parking lot. And when the morning rays of the sun fell on her already beautiful face, a divine charm came onto it. It was a treat to watch her.
While I was standing there enjoying one of the most beautiful things in the world, someone tapped my shoulders. When I turned and opened my mouth to swear at the criminal who had disturbed me, I found it was none other than Deepu, with Dheemant a few paces behind him. Wow, I love my friends.
“Hey, why did you come here in such a hurry? You didn’t even finish your juice. But don’t worry. That’s been taken care of.”
I just turned and looked toward the girl. “Oh, my God! She is lovely, isn’t she?” Deepu exclaimed.
“Hey Dheemant, did you see her?” Deepu asked him.
Dheemant was standing still like a rock beside Deepu. He didn’t move and he didn’t talk. Deepu looked at me and raised his eyebrows. I just shrugged my shoulders. I was actually worried about him. Had he lost all the passion? Had he lost all the interest in Ornithology and flirting? Was he never going to fall in love again? I needed answers for so many questions.
When I was still wondering what had happened to him, he did the unthinkable. He thrust his hand in his trouser’s pocket, took out his pocket comb and combed his hair in a hurry. Then, took out his goggles, checked his hair in it, and this time he actually wore it. He looked at us, gave a wild grin and started walking toward the girl. Deepu was the first one to recover.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?”
Dheemant stopped, turned and said, “I’m in love, guys. Wish me luck.”
Again? So soon?
“Hey, wait. Don’t you think you need a plan?”
“Nope.” He started moving backward.
“Well, she could be waiting for her boy friend, you know.”
“Doesn’t matter, buddy. You know my theory, don’t you?” he said, turned and wended his way toward her.
“Each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion. It merely intensifies it.”
Deepu and I stood there dumbfounded not knowing what to do or think or talk. We really didn’t have the stamina to have another ‘babe’ experience. So we came back to the juice parlour and ordered two more glasses of Orange juice. We still hadn’t spoken to each other, for both of us were floating around in our own crazy thoughts. Finally, when our orders were served, after taking a swig of juice, we looked at each other. None of us responded in the beginning, but slowly a smile came to each other’s faces and finished our juice with a loud laugh. Deepu got up to pay the bill and I took out my cell phone and started text messaging Hari about the latest improvements.
P.S. All the quotes that were in bold italics are from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Copyright © Karthik 2010