One of my prized possessions is a biography of Sachin Tendulkar with its marginalia filled by a school girl who had him as her Yahoo password. Our “relationship” came to an end when one afternoon, she jilted me without any excuse or explanation. She had promised that she would marry me, and that we would name our little baby “Sachin”. I have always taken words literally. I believed her. When she left me, I was completely broken, and I spent the whole night on the roof of my college hostel—Weeping! Sob! Sob!
But, as it happens, I would soon see the tables turning. It was a phase in which my blog was slowly acquiring a voice as my biggest “abuse delivery machine”. The short story I wrote on her was a masterpiece. The boys in my college took printouts of it, and pasted it on the wall of the reading room of our college hostel. I heard that the boys in her school too did a wonderful job in promoting my masterpiece. In many ways, it was an underground sensation. To me, it was a much-needed lesson in “word of mouth” publicity.
One day, she would call me. All I could hear was a deep silence. I said, “Even when the whole world is shattering around you, you are calm and composed. I really appreciate this.” What I heard next was a cry: “Waaah”. And there was a smug smile on my face. Big girls do not cry like that!
I heard that her mother called up my mother, and said, “Only an evil kid can do this to my darling daughter.” My mother said, “But, this would have never happened if she hadn’t called my darling son ten times an hour.” But then, there are days in which I agree with my mother.
In school, she had once pretended to faint down when she was being punished. In my short story, I had alluded to this, and her teachers were not too happy about it. I heard that she had to tell her school authorities: “I am sorry, sisters. This is my first and last affair. I will never fall in love again.”
After all, God will not be mocked!
That evening, I got a nice hair cut and everything.
The next day, after my lunch, I was walking towards the Telephone booth near my hostel, and before I could understand what was happening, a dude who looked like “He-man” hauled me into a jeep. A squeaky voice came out of me, and it was not too unlike the bleat that came out of me many years later when I heard that an evil editor at Open Magazine had cut my favorite passages from my masterpiece.
I had heard that she has an elder brother who is the biggest bully in his college. One friend of hers had once told me: “You don’t mess with people like him.” I sat in the jeep thinking, “But, I did not know that she had such a big bull-like brother.” When I got back to my senses, I understood that it was a police jeep. They were not willing to tell me why I was hauled into the jeep. Soon, many of my batch-mates would join me, and we were taken to the police station.
I gathered that some of my batch-mates had passed lewd comments at the girls in our junior batch. When their parents complained to the principal, he said that they can register a complaint with the police if they wish to do so. The police barged into the campus and arrested boys at random. All we had in common was our age. The police inspector was bent on proving that policemen are superior to engineers. He imitated every movie star in the country. His fishy eyes were fixed on me when he was talking, and I stood defiantly, looking outside, occasionally yawning. It was clear to everyone that their anger was directed at me.
A mechanical engineering lecturer would soon come to “bail us out”. In between I heard my batch-mates reeling off the names of VIP’s they know, hoping that this would help them get out of the mess. When I said that I was bored to death listening to his blabbering, they said, “Shut up!” After three hours, they let us free saying that they have their own way of dealing with such cases.
The next day, we walked into the office of the Principal. A boy said, “This is not fair. It is your responsibility to take care of us.” Another boy said, “We do not mind anything. But, what we cannot bear is that this happened to Shanu. We have never seen him doing anything wrong. It is laughable to think that he would pass lewd comments at girls. And, I—I have never ragged anyone. If I had ragged my juniors, I would have been a much happier boy today. The reason I am sad today is that I have never ragged anyone.” I pressed my fingers on the chair, and pinched myself to suppress my laughter. The principal was silent, and not judgmental about what had happened. He looked at me, and smiled. By then, my eidetic memory had made me a mini-celebrity in my college. Then he said loosely, with a bored look on his face “The police has their own way of doing things”. Years later, when I hear sentimentalists prating that it is a virtue to not be judgmental, I would remember the face of our Principal.
When we walked out of the room, the boys asked me: “Did you say anything to the policemen? We hope not. The reason we are surprised is that we have never heard you speak.” I said, “Of course not”. They went back to the classroom saying that I should soon write this on my blog. I promised to write.
I stood there, puzzled, and while walking down the stairs, I remembered that I had told a policeman that I have to submit my seminar report. When he asked, “Seminar report? It that something you study?” I retorted, “No. It is something I eat”. And what followed was a stream of invectives that shut me up.
I wondered whether this would have had any bearing upon what happened. I dismissed the thought, and walked down the stairs, slowly.
But, what I still find inexplicable is that it took me many years to carry out my promise.