Unit One Matters

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Adi is a South Indian Brahmin, religiously deprived of all sorts of meat in the 27 years he has lived. Debo is a soft-spoken and unbelievably straight-forward-appearing pleasant and romantic person. Mukhi is my 2nd year fellow ward-mate. I am Rov and I like to write about, so to say, anything!The story is about a perilous journey...

Submitted: January 03, 2012

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Submitted: January 03, 2012

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UNIT ONE MATTERS

BARPETA JOURNEY

 

 

 

 

Adi is a South Indian Brahmin, religiously deprived of all sorts of meat in the 27 years he has lived. He is none the worse for it as proved by the fact that he has grown into a handsome fellow of an adequate height, a well maintained body and an exceptional whitish complexion for his Dravidian origins.  

 

The only noticeable aberrance is a slight congenital bilateral coxa varus deformity which cannot be attributed to his nutritional preferences. He is very particular about his looks as can be understood by his remark in a social networking site “My good looks are directly proportional to the length of my nose”. He has a long nose and so he attracts many female friends.

 

Debo is a soft-spoken and unbelievably straight-forward-appearing pleasant and romantic person with a mature persona within the structure of a short man with a baby face, a fading hairline, a protuberant tummy and a way about himself that always raises the question that how can he be so good, the question lingering even in the minds of those who know him so well, including the quantities of puffs and booze expended by him. He is essentially damn good and that is a riddle and I don’t know why. The password of his e-mail account was “i_am_a_gentleman” before being changed after I shared that bit of knowledge. A steady girlfriend in the past few months has been a heart-breaker for many of the opposite sex.

 

The above two are 3rd year post-graduates in my Unit.

 

Mukhi is my 2nd year fellow ward-mate. His one achievement of recent times has been that he stopped a train with his patella! The other one is that he is tolerating me all this time. The past one year has been a grinding test for him and we bear testimony to his resolute character. He has endured all and still possesses the sharp features of an intellectual. One can see the sharp prominences of his clavicles, ribs, iliac bones, and the Brahmin nose! This is not to decry the fact that he is power-packed and he seldom bites the dust when it comes to explanations of all and sundry facts of the universe.

 

 

 

I am Rov and I like to write about, so to say, anything!

 

 

The present story is about the day the three of us went to Mukhi’s home on the sad occasion of his mother’s funeral ceremony. A week had gone by since the demise of his mother and we strongly felt that we should be there at his home, with him, for sometime.

 

 

On that particular day, at 2 PM, at the completion of all ward work, the three of us, Debo, Adi and me, entered the room of our unit head to see him off for the day.

 

The old man, partially hidden behind the large, resolute, desk that was disproportionate to his quaint figure, was toying with the antiquities in his briefcase. He remained oblivious to our presence for precious five minutes, till the time that he was satisfied that he had re-arranged each article as well as every time. Then he remarked, “So, what do you know about use of credit cards in England 25 years ago?”

 

I scanned the echo of the words, that formed the question, in my mind again and again, and after being damn sure that the answer would not be found in either Bailey and Love or Sabiston, I answered to myself, “No, I know nothing. And how would I know?”

 

A glance on the faces on either side of me told me that my two seniors were equally ignorant on that issue.

 

The old man smiled with consummate pleasure for he found an opportunity to narrate the elaborate story of his English detour 25 years ago and a comparison between the adequacies of the then England to the deficiencies of the present India. It always is a one hour ordeal to his audience. The ultimate testimonial to his oration is the 25 year old disfigured English credit card that he shows as his eyes glow at the finale of a supposedly praise-worthy performance.

 

I only prayed that he would not continue with the stories associated with his Banaresi nut-cracker, Japanese nail-cutter, French cologne, American reading glass, Chinese mirror or some other newly discovered lost treasure in that magic box.

 

So, at 3:15 PM he rose to a height of barely 5 feet, with understandable tiredness for his age of sixties. At that moment, Debo asked him whether he would allow us to leave for Barpeta to Mukhi’s home. The old man thought for sometime and remarked, “Take care as the road is very bad”. This, of course, meant that fatherly permission was granted.

 

At 3:45 PM we, along with two 1st years, Anil and Rabha started on the journey in Debo’s small car.

 

The traffic of Guwahati, the choice of the wrong congested route, the careful driving of Debo, the frequent distraction of beautiful damsels for his roving eyes, and a railway crossing hindrance were all responsible for the end result that by the time we were at Jalukbari, it was already a few minutes past 5 PM.

 

 

The car was brought to a halt near a petrol pump there to decide whether to go on or to return back as it was already so late. I sounded a confident “yes” and everyone too readily agreed. 20 litres of petrol were loaded in the car to dismiss any contrary notions.

 

 

After we crossed the Saraighat Bridge, Adi took on to the steering wheel. “Macha! Watch me drive”.

 

 

Adi and his driving were like a take for the next Transporter movie. And the narrow road to Nalbari via Hajo suddenly came into life with breath-taking action scenes. The sparkle in his contact lens borne eyes behind the Ray Ban sunglasses in that sunset time, the weedy two day old beard in his face and the tightly apposed lips were in defiance to the petty complaining cyclists and peddlers who were forced out of asphalt track by the honking horns of our vehicle. Angrily barking dogs, madly jumping frightened cattle and a thin cloud of dust were also part of the rear view. Adi outpaced all other vehicles with smiling disdain as the engine of our car laboured under the constant strain of the unyielding accelerator pedal. Not any of the frequent potholes or speed-breakers could have dared to disturb his already decided finish time. Of course, I have failed to mention that he and Debo had a plane to catch the next day at 12 Noon from Guwahati to Delhi for an academic conference. So, he had a reason to make the rest of us roll right and left in our seats in uncomfortable excitement.

 

We reached Nalbari at 7:30 PM. The beams of the headlights of our car showed us that the road we were on, trifurcated a 100 metres ahead of us, and nobody among us had the knowledge which way to go. At Adi’s pace, we had only 3.6 secs to unanimously guess the correct option. Adi found out another way. He applied the brakes, the tires screeched and the bonnet of the car softly kissed the butt of a bicycle. The rider was a boy who looked about 8 years old and was mad with fury. He vented it with expletives in the local dialect ending his tirade with the question, “Don’t you know which way to go?” I stuck a 50 rupees note to his nose and replied, “No, we don’t! Maybe you could tell us which way to go to Barpeta?” Money mollified matters and we discovered our way ahead.

 

 

Adi was deterred by the incident and the bravado of the skeleton-like urchin. He handed over the steering to Debo. The rough road ahead had no coal tar layer and was only spattered with manually broken rocks. Debo has a way for gentle handling. The rocks that came under the tires, if they were not inanimate, would have perhaps felt caressed by them, instead of a heavy crushing pain. This would be just because Debo was driving, in spite of the fact that he is not as good a driver as Adi.

 

 

Akon’s voice was chanting in the car stereo to match the moods.

 

 

Debo is polite

No flaws in sight

Nature’s delight

Loved and always right

 

 

 

Debo is decent

God’s present

Good-natured, pleasant

Loved and like a saint

 

 

Debo is romantic

Looks so pediatric

Everything fantastic

Loved, and still lot more to speak

 

 

De-bo…de-bo…de-bo…de-bo…de-bo…

 

 

The above were not exactly the lyrics in Akon’s song but I think that a girl, whose home was in the outskirts of Guwahati city, within a 50 kms radius, and who was at home at that hour because she was an intern with SPM posting, and who was tossing in her bed with a book named A.A.A. with absolute lack of concentration in the words printed in the pages of that book, was at that moment singing out similar words in tune with Akon’s song, that was otherwise full of taboo words, because she was listening to Big F.M., like we were doing, as wished by Debo!

 

 

Meanwhile, Adi was furiously busy texting messages with his cell phone! He has his own pet games!! He could not have done so if he was driving the car, and I was all praise for his foresight.

 

 

I was blabbering and so was Anil. The latter was talking about the necessity of import of beautiful Mumbai girls to act in Kannada movies against moustache-sporting macho heroes. Anil, in the past six months that I had known him, was never to be seen without the moustache. The faint suggestion that an import of another fair Mumbai girl to his hometown in Karnataka seemed to be long overdue, tickled a disproportionately boisterous guffaw. I was simply content with the notion that he was going to marry such a girl in near future.

 

 

Rabha was a man of a few and wise words. He had his own unrevealed plans. One wisecrack per fifteen minutes sufficed to contribute to the on-goings of our travelling party.

 

 

The real party was however yet to begin. The road was gradually degenerating from bad to worse and a paragraph about it is necessary for those who are unfamiliar to it to imagine its treacherous nature.

 

 

It is actually a National Highway under construction but the 4-lane project is now represented by something that is a jigsaw puzzle of what is road and what is not.

 

After every stretch of about fifty to hundred metres of what is supposed to be road, there is a roadblock with a small and faded notice declaring “DIVERSION”, which means that the driver has to turn his vehicle perpendicularly to the right or to the left, besides executing on expectations of an expert steering past a precipitous fall in altitude or an equally difficult steep inclination.

 

 

The other challenge comprises the clouds of dust that has numerous origins, including that raised by the large tires of the long line of heavy trucks moving ahead in a pachyderm like procession. Some of them contained truckloads of overloaded dust, and dust also came from all the heavy machines grinding and churning and producing more dust. Additionally, dust was being blown from the expanses of barren fields on either side. It was an awfully dusty environment!

 

 

Thus it was not difficult to understand when an Alto leaped into air in front of us, after running through one of the diversions, and fell crashing into a sand dune 10 feet below. As we moved past it, we saw a man emerging from that obliquely placed car. Apparently, that sole occupant was unhurt.

 

 

This above accident was the worst one witnessed by us among the series of about ten to twelve misfortune happenings during the course of our journey that speaks volume about the hazard levels we had subjected ourselves to.

 

 

Debo and Adi took their turn on the steering wheel and in another two and half hours, we were at Mukhi’s home in Barpeta Road, miraculously safe and sound, without even a scratch!

 

 

We were accosted by the tonsured Mukhi brothers and our own ‘Patella’ Mukhi mosai was delighted by the presence of the five of us. Soon, we took our seats for the customary dinner and satiated our appetite with Bengali dishes.

 

 

11:15 PM was the time when we started on our way back.

 

 

There were reasons for which I was unanimously chosen to drive the car on the return journey. For one, everybody, except me, had customary night time calls to make.

 

The four fellows were also unaware of the feats of my lifetime.

 

 

Year 1996: I drove a Fiat in and out of a roadside drain because my driver, who was giving me lessons, had an absent seizure.

 

Year 2000: I tested the flight time of a Maruti 800.

 

Year 2005: I raced past a queue of 20 moving Ashok Leyland military vehicles at one go, my Tata Indica scorching the road at 130 kms / hr and miraculously escaping head-on collision with a goods carrier truck coming from the opposite side, just like Aamir Khan evaded that train in Ghulam. My punishment was a parentally imposed abstinence from driving for 3 yrs from that moment.

 

 

On that night, the feel of the steering wheel rekindled the devil. One hour later, the gearbox was broken yielding to the battering of that rocking ride. It was out of my knowledge as to, by what configuration, it so happened that the car would not go in gear 1 and 2, though gear 3 and 4 worked fine.

 

 

Now this is what the story is about. I have always wanted more and more people to know how well I drove that damaged vehicle.

 

Eminem’s voice was blaring in the car stereo, this time with my own lyrics.

 

Hey car!

You fall once and leap twice

We gotta go far

So don’t stop and be nice

Don’t wanna be lost here

With chances like the roll of the dice

Go along; think of mommy car, daddy car

You have to reach home for everyone near and dear

You have to be home for your own girlie car

Do you see all that smoking coal tar

Think that we are in war

Like a burning plane lost to radar

But you know that you must always win

Though winning may seem bizarre

This is not the end, you need not think of the dustbin

That’s full upto the brim, with sin and more sin

You rather think clear in this alcohol-driven din

The smell intoxicates you, but you never tasted wine, never tasted gin

Yeah, you are thinking of your kith and kin; what you have been through thick and thin

Hey car!

You fall once and leap twice

I am losing count, I am feeling awful inside

We still gotta go lot far; don’t dare stop and be nice

The night excites fears; ditch full dangers outside

The moon smiles in the dark sky; she smiles at me and you

She likes that you have lost two gears and I am turning blue

Those on the backseat are already sleeping; spare Adi on the front seat is not dozing

Holding onto his seat, gloomily glued, tense and troubled; is vomiting overdue?

Let mourners be damned, you can’t be tamed and I am brain-jammed

I hear a clank; something’s broken again; hope it’s not the oil tank

You are running without gears, running with split tyres, would you run without oil?

I’ll thank you infinite times if you reach home and end this toil

The Devil’s sending troubles in a platter, and hitting on my head like a hammer

Alarm bells are ringing within; I can hear your engine noise stammer

Curse my blunders but stop the clangour even though you have hurt your fenders

These are small hours of the day I should’ve slumbered away but I’m lost here in dismay

You are a small call with small powers and small tyres to challenge this hellish highway

I’ll always remember this day the whole of my life; the strife and all of today

Hey car!...

 

And thus the story has been told.

We reached Guwahati at 4 AM in the morning. I can’t recall how and when it so happened that I was not in the driver’s seat but sleeping in the seat beside, requiring Adi to slap on my head to wake me up.

 

Needless to say, Adi did a tremendous job of steering home the broken car from where I left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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