Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ode To An Odd Pal

I was outraged when his heart-rending scream failed to prick the conscience of the hostellers who went about their business in a detached manner. But the reason for their apathy became apparent when, on a fact-finding mission, I discovered the wailer perched atop his bed shedding pints of tears as he savagedly clipped his own finger-nails letting out a howl of agony after each nick. And his full-throated rendition of the national anthem marked the end of the bizarre ritual.

It was not as if he was a weirdo. He had his head screwed on the right way and did things just the way we did, only he did them differently. His brushing of teeth was an incredible sight to behold - he held the brush stationary on his teth while shaking his head sideways. When he ate, which he did quite often, he bent his head towards the plate to meet his right hand halfway.

With his myopic eyesight he, sans his specs, fathered scores of bloomers that made our day. 'Warm Digamber' he would say reading the poster of the movie 'Warm December'. with him the signboard of a 'Public Carrier' became a 'Pubic Carrier'. And the 'No Parking ' sign? 'Hush! Don't yap. It's a no-barking area'.

The most unlikely incidents triggered his mood swings. A fit of melancholy engulfed him when the hostel mess opened three minutes late. His idea of having a jolly time was to smoke a beedi when it rains cats and dogs.

At times he displayed traces of naivete that was his hallmark. He mailed a registered letter by stamping it adequately and dropping it into the post box. In those days he didn't even know how to draw money from the bank but could draw portraits of exquisite class and sublimity.

He ate like there was no tomorrow and yet had a lanky frame to show for his gluttony. consequently, when he went out in my company, neighbourhood brats called out 'Laurel and Hardy' (no prize for guessing who was Hardy). But he got into high spirits (toohigh for others' comfort) after downing an ounce of beer; so he remained on water-wagon guzzling gallons of orange juice and prided himself on being called 'Mr Sober(s).

But the greatest paradox was that he went on to specialise and super-specialise in a subject that he, as an undergraduate, flunked at the first attempt. He got himself trained in that subject at prestigious unuversities around the globe and today he single-handedly runs an institution of high calibre earning himself loads of fame and moolah.

The last time I met him, a couple of years ago, he was his car with his foot of the accelerator and the choke pulled out all the way! Father time couldn't change him a wee bit.

Clipart Courtesy:

No comments: