My mind goes blank as she fills the space around me.; a minor fight has ensued at the box office, most of it verbal- the usual maa bhen stuff. My heart is racing, while she stands still; her eyes looking around, searching for something.
She turns to me, brushes hair off her forehead, smiles, and asks, ‘what time does the show start’. I go numb for a moment before she asks again, ‘शो कित्ते बजे स्टार्ट होगा ’. Those Hindi words come like a gust of fresh air for my suffocated self and stinking consciousness.
I am now in my element. I reply, “Official time is 12 noon but…”- I pause for a split second- “the show starts around 12:30. 12:35 to be precise, which is after they have assaulted you with three वीको वज्रदंती ads and 8 public interest messages like ‘कृपया सीट पर पैर न रखें ’ and ‘In case of fire don’t panic. Stay calm and get burned”.
By the time I finish, she is smiling. And trying to gag her laughter with her left hand, which is frivolously placed over her mouth, reversed- her palm facing me; perhaps, trying to hide her partly broken front tooth shaped as a right angled triangle (30-60-90).
She: “You seem to know quite a lot about this place?”
Me: Yes. I black tickets here, every Friday. You need one?
She: Hehehehehehe. You kidding me? And by the way, Why would I buy from a blacker?
with all that beauty, merely a smile can fetch you a 100 tickets for free.
Come again !
That I am. Throw in another one.
Me: Can I have your autograph?
She: Hehehehehe…are you hitting on me?
Me: Only if I knew anything about you.
She: What do you want to know?
Me: What do you want to tell?
Me: ‘Nothing’ is impossible.
She: Impossible is nothing.
Me: Finally ‘Nothing’ comes closer
Me: telling your name.
She: how close?
Me: let’s figure out.
She: I think it’s far too close…
Ok. My name is Kalawati. What’s yours?
Me: what are you doing here?
She: I’m looking for my dad. And you?
apart from blacking tickets, of course.
Me: Trying to figure out whether Kalawati is bunking her classes.
She: What’s your name?
Me: I am Shyam Sundar Shukla.
She: That’s quite an alliteration.
Me: So Kalawati wha… Holy Fuck !!!
“I’ll be back in a while” is all I say before leaving for a safe haven. It’s our own Pandey ji briskly headed in my direction. His face is in weird contortions. He’s just been hit by a flying turd. Or so it seems.
For all of Pandey ji’s characteristic quirks one thing I’m quite confident of- that Pandey ji will find gluttonous pleasure finding me at the cinema hall. (He secretly envies my family for having me, for him himself being prosperous his son is just shy of attaining the status- ‘privileged loser’.
He is good for nothing save for one thing: He seems to have a talent for spending monies at the drop of a hat, over such great things as ‘frandship’, with girls who draw pleasure from his wallet while he dreams of drawing them closer. In addition, he likes to call himself ‘यारों का यार , रामजी पण्डे’.)
There’s no doubt Pandey ji will derive orgasmic pleasure communicating my exploits to my stingy father.
His diatribe will sound something to this effect:
a) I have a girlfriend (‘Laundiabaaz’ will be the definitive term), at which point my father will have his first cardiac attack.
b) I regularly bunk my coaching classes. (‘चूतिया बनाता है’ will figure somewhere in the sentence). This calls for another bigger attack.
c) I splurge money (stolen from his pockets?) on girls and movies, at which point my father will die a rather convenient death. Or, he might get a better idea and kill me instead.
I take refuge in Shankar’s Paan shop while keeping an eye on Pandey ji and Kalawati (she looks confused). But, it seems Pandey ji is on a mission to track me down; or maybe to take a puff or two at Kailash’s. I make a move to a relatively safe place.
I stand near a broken down wall, accompanied by two gentlemen taking a piss. I see straight towards the wall pretending to open my fly while I wonder if Kalawati is still there. A third person joins in. He’s lending his rather sweet voice to the background music of ‘Kaanta Laga’.
I find the voice familiar. I squint through my left eye. Everybody, even my luck which had been sound all along, seems to be conspiring against me;.. Jesus fucking Christ!!! It’s Pandey ji again. Thankfully he’s concentrating on his yellow-ish stream rather than my Yellow T-shirt. I retreat to Shankar’s shop. I decide to concentrate on Pandey ji and act accordingly. I see him hitting the main road. He is bargaining with an auto-driver. He sits to the left side of the seat, meaning the auto will pick another couple of passengers on the way (It costs less that way).
...to be continued