Yesterday, I visited my Mamaji who lives in Ghaziyabad. Not that I really wanted to see him or whatever, I went there just to fetch the novels my mother sent from home. It was a fine journey, nothing adventurous, even slightly boring, except for the hot momos at Vaishali, but I ploughed through, and reached the house only to find it locked.
It was scalding hot and I was sweating like a perforated water bottle. I paced up and down the landing and checked the lock again and again. Then, it occurred to me that I had a mobile phone. I dialled the number and a computer-generated voice politely asked me to go recharge my phone. They won’t give me a loan, because my sim card isn’t 60 days old yet. It’s not long before Airtel is going to be solvent and bankrupt and obsolete. Anyway, I used their missed-call scheme and it didn’t do me a hair of a benefit. Mamaji arrived a few millenniums later, and I was already dehydrated and shrunk up by then.
“You should have called me. “He said. Yeah, how about staying in the house when you have a visitor coming?
I went in and plonked my ass on the chair-seat in the TV room. It’d been so long since I watched TV. I switched over to Sony, where they were showing The Kapil Sharma Show, and fanned myself with his notebook. Mamaji talked about kindle and college and wifi and then he got busy solving a customer’s problem over phone. I quickly searched for FTV in the menu list, but I couldn’t find it. All the English channels, even BBC, were inactive. I resolved I was never going to have a TV without English channels. Hell, if I get a TV I’ll have a porn channel in it.
Quite soon, I was bored. They were cracking familiar jokes and there was nothing hilarious going on – everything was below Kapil’s standard. Mamji came in, opened his laptop, sat on the bed, and started working. I really felt bad for him. I mean he used to be a funny guy whose favourite movie was Ongbak. And now he’s just a prim pot-bellied company puppet who doesn’t have English channels in his TV. How times change, people!
I started flipping through and my finger stopped at Jhalak Dikhla Jaa – a reality show presenting erection-inducing dance performances. There was a really hot dishabille – or maybe it was her dress, red blouse with a single string, exposing her caramel back, and most of her cleavage, and the skirt stuff like four inches below her navel and oh my god, I can’t describe her – girl, and a really stupid square-faced guy whose face screamed, “I want to fuck her. ” performing tango. They were pulling it off so well I got a hard on. Then, through the corner of my eyes, I saw Mamaji gaping at the screen. I instantly changed the channel, and he blinked, as if someone snapped him out of a daydream, and went back to working on his laptop.
He cooked us dinner, and it was okay. I collected my stuffs and he offered to drop me at Anand Vihar, from where I was supposed to hire a taxi.
I rode pillion as he drove at 30 through the boiling afternoon of Delhi. I was almost sleeping inside my bloody helmet when the bike came to an abrupt halt. There was a truck lying on its side, blocking the road completely, and one thousand fishes leaping on the scathing tar-black road which now glistened with the spilled water. Some of them were dead, some of them were kind of dead, and some of them were fighting against death. Some had managed to leap their way to a filthy ditch, which would contaminate them for sure. People were busy pulling the driver out, and some were busy kicking the fishes to the ditch. They were thinking they were saving lives. Mamaji went near the truck and asked if the driver was okay. He was. And so, Mamaji got his phone out, and like twenty other morons, started clicking selfies with dying fishes in the background.
He got me a taxi though, and he paid for it, and as I reached Shahadra, travelling an extra distance from the proposed one without being asked for more money, sitting in the taxi with a 786 sticker on the glass front, I realised you cannot really tell who’s good and who’s bad from the look on their faces or the clothes they’re wearing.
“Do you have some water? “The taxi driver asked. I told him to wait for a minute and raced towards the shop. I bought a bottle of mineral water, and ran back, thinking about the thirsty dying fishes, and the difference between Mamaji and me.