Friday, December 28, 2007

An encounter

I turned around in my chair and waited in that position for a few moments, I didn’t hear the call again. Was it just my imagination or did someone really call out from outside. I decided to walk to the door.

There was someone outside the door, no doubt about it. I headed close to the door & bent down slightly to take a clear look at the person outside. This time I saw him clearly. And immediately my heart started to race. As I finally reached the door, the person outside stood still, his glistening & cold eyes only staring at me. He had a few days old stubble & his hair although dirty seemed to be in its place. I noticed he wasn’t wearing any footwear. His shirt was untidily tucked in to his pants only partly, the rest just hung down. The full sleeved shirt’s sleeves were rolled up a bit.

I paused, looked at him & let the entire thing register. I still hadn’t opened the door. My fingers were on the latch but I was staring at him. He continued to stare back. What I still remember is how his eyes looked. Shiny and cold. I only managed to blurt out “yes”. “Do you remember me”, he asked pointing all the fingers of his right hand at his chest. I paused & remember saying “yes”. “Come out then”, he said. I took a moment & thought about it. Finally I opened the door but didn’t get out.

He called me by my brother’s name. I thought may be it was the state he was in that made him call me by my brother’s name. Or could be that he just thought that my name was indeed that. What I continued to be absolutely amazed was how he could speak such fluent English. No, that was not what I was really amazed about. Yes he could speak good fluent English but no that was not what I was amazed about. I was amazed about the fact that someone who could speak such good English had got himself into a position like that. Yeah that was what I was amazed about.

“Could you give me 100 rupees please, I need to get home”, he said. His voice sounded tired, sounded like he desperately needed it.

I initially struggled with my words. Finally I said, “No I don’t have that money right now”. The fact was I truly didn’t have that much on me at that moment, but even if I did I think I would have told him I didn’t .

“Please, I need that money. Look at my state…..I don’t even have my foot wear”. He pleaded.

I felt very sad. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Could life be so cruel to someone. I remembered this very same person outside a house. He was on his bike & on the other side of the gate, stood a girl. He looked so much better then. His skin tone was white, that is what I can think of best describing it. So white that if he was out in the sun for a while his cheeks would turn pink. But now that complexion had completely disappeared. It had turned darkish brown.

“What did you do with the money you got yesterday”, I asked him. Mom had given him 100 rupees the day before when he came by.

He was taken aback by that question. He shook his head, looked down, then looked up at me again & said, “um….ah…..I spent that money on a call”.

I suppose he knew his explanation didn’t come across very convincing. “I am sorry I said, I don’t have any money right now”

“Please”, he said & got his hands together as if he were praying. Only, here he was begging, pleading.

“I will fall at your feet if you tell me to”, he said.

That was when I got a whiff of liquor smell from him. With that whatever little doubts I had was confirmed. I persisted with my stand. I told him I can’t give him any money because I didn’t have any.

“Please don’t come here” I told him. I remembered mom telling me the day before how scared she felt when she saw him at our gate. I didn’t give that a lot of importance then but when I saw him first some time back or even then when I was facing him & trying to get him to leave, I knew very well that I was scared inside. I later realized that such a feeling is possible & completely fair when you see the other person so cold, so emotion less. Like dying.

“I will not come again. Give me the money & I will not come again”, he said.

I repeated what I had told him all through. “I don’t have any money right now, I can’t help you”. That seemed to have clinched it. He turned & walked. I continued to look at him until his sight was blocked by the Tata Sierra parked in front of our gate.

Moments later sitting at my desk & looking down at the Balance Sheet & Income Statement that I was trying to solve for my Management Accounting assignment, I couldn’t help but again think back at those good old days this person I just met outside my door had seen. I recollected my cousin telling me that when he was visiting them one summer he would bathe four to five times a day with cold water at a time when the small town where my cousins come from had a water shortage. I remembered both my cousin & I smiling after he told me that.

I recollected mom telling me the day before, “That’s why one’s company of friends should be good”. Then later she had added, “Its drugs”. The recent case of a former model found on the road side creating headline news flashed to my mind. There they said it was the modeling world that could do it to you.

I wondered what had done it to this person.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Have you taken a rat around for a ride? I did

Yeah strange as it may sound, I did take a rat around for a ride on my bike.

For many days right below the seat of my bike I would find bits of foam that is used in the seat lying on the ground. Initially I ignored it thinking that it must be some waste come in from somewhere. It was only later did I realize what it was & where it had come from.

On a particular day I took the bike out as usual & went about wherever I had to go. The bike started properly & rode properly as well. Then sometime in the afternoon I parked the bike somewhere and went to a shop to check something. The problem started once I got back. The bike wouldn’t start. I generally make an attempt to remain calm when the bike doesn’t start, especially at traffic junctions where bikes generally have a tendency to go off, as if saying I am tired I can’t ride anymore. I checked if the bike was switched on, then confirmed if I hadn’t accidently switched off the up/down button that is there on the right side of the handle bar. That was also fine. So I patiently kicked thinking it would start. But No, no such luck.

Eventually I had to push the bike home & after parking it near the gate I began to feel really angry about it because I wasn’t able to figure out what could be wrong. The nearby bike mechanic was shut that day. And for some reason I thought I should get this checked at the service center which I frequent. That was a fine idea but the only downside to it was I would have to push the bike for a good 2 – 3 Kms and to make matters worse for a small stretch the road is fairly steep.

That evening my brother in law came visiting & during conversations I happened to mention that the bike was not starting. He offered to take a look. He too tried different things but nothing worked. After coffee he suggested that we push the bike down to some mechanic shop & get it checked. I reluctantly agreed. Luckily not far from home there was a mechanic sitting outside his shop. We explained the problem to him. He first tried to start the bike but it wouldn’t relent. Then slowly one by one he began to unscrew the screws & loosen the nuts. As he removed one part after another both my brother in law & I looked & wondered how each of those parts make up the bike. Finally when he removed the seat, came the surprise & the shock. A rat jumped out of it. It was nice & big. I remember I only managed to jump on to a raised platform nearby & got down only when it had managed to run away. The mechanic now knew what the problem could be. The rat had eaten into the wires that run beneath the seat & this was causing the bike not to start. He removed one box like thing & showed us how the rat had chewed into the wires.

While the mechanic was fitting in a replacement, I was only wondering. God knows for many days the rat had been there inside. And God knows where all I had taken him. Just imagine the little big thing sitting right under the seat, constantly munching on to the wires, the basic life line of the bike. Or just imagine what if the rat got tired of the wires & decided to chew up the seat & work its way up to the top of the seat….God!!! what an escape.

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