The Clown

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Sun, with his yellow light like that of an egg's yolk, rose to the sky and broke the dawn. Madhav Rao lethargically lifted himself from the bed caught himself a mug of coffee while getting today's newspaper. Madhav was a middle-aged man whose hairline receded similar to that of the waves at a beach; his arms were thin as noodles; a subtle moustache arched over his lips. He started to button his checkered shirt after a bath; he combed his few remaining hair strands. He goes through this trouble of dressing up every single day to go to his office.

 Madhav worked at the district collectorate office as a simple clerk. The building gave out an aura that could change a person's mood upon entering its premises. The frame of mind which was most commonly associated with this aura was frustration and malaise; of course, the employees toil here from the morning to sundown. Madhav Rao never fancied being a clerk as he believed that he could be an actor who could put even someone like Nageshwar Rao to shame, but as we can observe, life had a different plan for him. His father left for his heavenly abode when Madhav was still a very young man, burdening him with the responsibility of marrying off his two sisters. The Financial crisis that followed his father's demise had forced him to drop the plans for his adventure into Tollywood and find a job to ensure that his sisters would be married off. 
  Madhav tip-toed into his office, where everyone drowned in their soul-sucking job of filing papers that stacked upon each other like the Himalayas. When he reached his desk, his colleague and friend, Goutham, asked, "Good morning mate, want to try this new cola flavour that I've got my hands on?"
"You know that I have diabetes; you are just teasing me."
"Hey! I am just trying to give you a treat!"
"I know you too well; you are an ass."
Goutham was much younger than Madhav; at first glance, one might easily presume the duo for father and son. Goutham was a medium-sized man with freckles on his face; a pair of glasses always covered his honeyish eyes. Despite the age difference, both of them fit like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle; and just like jigsaw pieces, the two friends were polar-opposite of each other. Goutham had never faced misery in his life and, even though he doesn't fancy his current job, he still retained his charm and sense of humour. Whereas the financial crisis had drained Madhav Rao like a vampire, making him a killjoy.

Time flew by as everyone was busy filing the tall stacks of papers on their desks: but Goutham, however, was a rebel who hated the monotony of office life and decided to slack off for a while, just like every single day. He briefly turned towards Madhav on his swivel chair and said to himself, "Look at my old man doing all the world's chores". He stared at Madhav Rao for a while; he observed that his friend seemed to be diligent about his work as he was going through bundles of papers and writing something on them: probably to sign on them. Madhav Rao was always very concentrated on his job but, something seemed wrong to Goutham; Madhav has a bad habit of biting the nails of his left hand while doing his bidding; right now, his southpaw is resting quietly on his desk. Goutham always buggers his best friend in the face of boredom; so, he quietly dragged himself towards his mate. When he tapped Madhav on the back and all of a sudden, He wrapped himself around Goutham like an anaconda coils around its prey. It is a widely known fact that actors have to consume alcohol to play the role of a drunkard; Madhav had played the role of a hardworking sober man while being under the influence of alcohol; the pat from Goutham had disturbed his act like Shree Ram's touch had broken the curse of Ahalya. Every single soul in the office glared their sights on the ruckus that was taking place. Unknowingly, Goutham had led the beast that resided within Madhav to freedom. Madhav Rao started to roam all around the office, making obscene comments to people and annoying them. He had toppled his desk and then tore his shirt and began to make gestures of dominance in front of everyone in the office. Goutham stood silent while watching this circus of a workplace. In the whole existence, there is no such person who is as free as a drunkard; unbounded by the chains of social norms and personal pain, a drunkard would never give a donkey's ass about the harm that he usually causes to himself and others; he leaves that to his sober counterpart.

Madhav Rao regained his soberness by the time when the Administrative Officer had called for him. When Madhav entered his room, he was fuming with vexation; he was usually a bit respectful towards Madhav, owing to his age and experience, but Madhav had crossed the line today. Madhav sat in silence while his superior was ranting about everything that occurred today.
"As one of the seniors of this office, you were supposed to be our mentor."
"Did you not feel an iota of guilt before touching the bottle?"
"Shame on you, Madhav Rao."
And the shower of offences continued for a while. Madhav Rao was unfazed by his insults until something had shattered his apathy.
"The word that perfectly sums you up is a clown; perhaps that is why no one wanted to give you their daughter."
Madhav Rao found this remark very hurtful. He had aged quite a bit before marrying his off younger sister, so he remained unmarried. Madhav immediately left the room with indignation and returned with a letter of his resignation. The letter had hit the A.O in the face both figuratively and literally as he felt guilty about making such a remark and apologized. Madhav Rao could not get his words out of his mind and left the room silently.

It was around 6 o'clock; the sun had begun to disappear into the horizon like a ripened mango. When the servant rang the evening bell, Goutham packed his things up and immediately left for Madhav's house to consolidate him but, there was a shiny padlock on his doors. As a good friend, Goutham knew where exactly to search for Madhav.

Madhav Rao stared into the equally beautiful and pungent waters of the Hussain Sagar; watching the bright Buddha statue in the middle of the heart-shaped lake brought peace to his soul. The pale moon's image reflected on the water; the starry sky blanketed the city; Madhav, though still upset, found this comforting, but all of a sudden, he saw someone shouting his name while sprinting towards him.

"Oye! Madhava, don't have all the fun without me!"
"What are you doing here?"
"Just looking for my alcoholic friend, what about you?
Madhav replied, "I am aware that I have committed a huge mistake."
"Man, you've made my day; I had trouble holding laughter."
"You don't understand how much of a struggle it is to remain unmarried."
Madhav Rao was right; in Indian society, unmarried people are considered leftovers or characterless and face such prejudices alongside loneliness.
"I burn every single day for emotional and sexual desires like a wick of a candle; while exhausting myself like its waxy exterior."
"Ah! come on, don't be so poetic right now; I was always with you since the beginning."
"Oh yeah? what business would I have with you in the bed?"
"You don't have to worry about that as long as I am still alive."
"I never knew that you desired for other men; it is immoral and sinful."
"No! You idiot! I am not going to sleep with you but, I do know someone who would."
Madhav Rao hesitated when Goutham mentioned the girl from "Mehboob-ki-Mehendi", Hyderabad's oldest red-light area. Goutham said,
"Her name is Chandhramukhi, but everyone calls her Chandu in short; these whores don't deserve a full name anyway."
"But what would people say?" Madhav asked in a low tone.
"Are they going to give you their daughter's hand?"
After many exchanges, Goutham finally managed to convince Madhav Rao to pay a visit to Chandramukhi. Madhav was nervous as he was about to break his chastity for the first time in his 46 years of existence.

Madhav Rao had never been close to a woman before: so Chandu, who sat right beside him on the bed, had brought him a feeling of lust and shame at the same time. Chandu, in her bridal attire, was veiled under the net. When she pulled the veil back, she revealed her eyes that could make the Kohinoor worthless; her lips were red as apples from the sweetest tree in Kashmir; her nose gently fell like the water from Niagara.
This angel from the heavens had hypnotized Madhav; she controlled him like a charmer who had power over his snake, the only difference between them being that Madhav had the permission to bite her. After doing the deed behind the curtains, they both had a chat for a while.
Madhav asked, "Do women like you ever dream of living normal lives?"
"We are no different from you in any way; we dress up appropriately for our work; we put on make-up to appeal to our clients."
"But are you not ashamed of giving pleasure to men for money?"
"If an employee works under a greedy employer for wages, then it is hard work but; when I give pleasure to lustful men for money, why is it shameful?"
Madhav sat still and asked, "But isn't it true that some of your clients can be rude and harsh to you?"
Chandu replied, "As we live in a society comprised of unique individuals, you sometimes have to adjust accordingly."
Madhav Rao sat silent after listening to her. He suddenly stood up and said, "I have to go back now; I will see you soon."
"Be sure to bring me a nice perfume next time!"
Madhav nodded with a smile and met Goutham outside the room.
Goutham asked, "How was the ecstasy of love, my friend?
"It was great; this has changed the way I look at the world."
"The classic Madhava! finding life's lessons even from a brothel!"
"Let us go back home now; I feel tired".
"I guess you would be too busy being unemployed tomorrow." 
"I am going to beg the A.O to let me work again; Let's hope that works out."
"Oh wow, I was worried about whom I was going to bother every morning."
"Shut up and drive me home!"

While on the way back home on Goutham's bike, he recollected what he realized from this whole experience with Chandu. As the A.O said, he was indeed a clown. Clowns give laughter and joy to everyone in the circus, yet no one dares to respect them. They spend a chunk of their time dressing up and down the make-up that makes everyone burst into laughter. Workers and prostitutes go through a similar ordeal every single day, then are we not clowns?


Submitted: September 27, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Mankala. All rights reserved.

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