Disclosure: The below is NOT fictional :)
There is this saying – we have our moments in life. That was one day I had ‘multiple moments’ one after the other.
It all began with a desire to feed our fasting stomachs some genuinely nice food. Those were the days of the fasting month – Ramadan. Kilakarai Buhari Aalmim's Men's Hostel is not the best of places for you if, like me you also enjoy having good food. That weekend, I was really hoping to have some great stuff. I wanted to munch on lovely kerala Porottas and savor some spicy chicken curry and open my nose to the real taste of food. Having spent all my schooling at home, the hostel days were a test of my patience. I am very particular when it comes to food. But when it comes to hostel, you are offered with little choice. So I said to my roomie
“Issam, let’s go to Tambaram for Ifthar (for breaking the fast)” – Tambaram being the nearest town where you’ll get anything decent.
“Sure” – he replied readily.
After a few seconds, he asks “will we be able to make it in time”
Now this guy is forever thinking far too much. To arrive at a decision he’ll think some hundred times. Hopeless I tell you. How can you live life this way? Anyway, I had to convince him.
“yeah man. We definitely can. Let’s leave now.” – I reassured him.
“Hmm.. okay. I’ll hit the loo and come then”
All geared up, I wait for him outside the hostel. Our hostel’s topography – a good mile away from road and ten more miles away from the next good restaurant was worrying me.
“Why can’t they have these colleges right in the city? Why on earth would you have it in a jungle so far away from civilization?” – I keep asking myself all the questions. Just then I see Issam come.
“Shereej is joining us.” – He announces
There I had my first moment of the day!
Now this character needs special introduction. A carefree reckless soul who I believe is testimony to the fact that anything is possible in life. His popularity transcends every department of our college and in hostel; he has a sole contender – his dad. I think I’ve seen his dad far more regularly in hostel than the guy himself. It strains my imagination to think of how his dad managed him till then. And it doesn’t help that his dad keeps checking on his son by calling on Issam – the official caretaker – according to his dad.
Aargh… anyhow, I control my emotions and keep still.
With luck, we get our bus quickly. Once inside Shereej says he needs to go the A.T.M. which is a good mile away from where we’ve to get down.
“Why didn’t you tell before getting into the bus? We could’ve taken from the one right outside the college?” Issam asks him
“Well. That one almost always never works. So I didn’t bother”
“Didn’t you see me take the cash from there Shereej?” I ask him now.
“you did? Oh I didn’t see man.”
“God – why? Why are you testing me like this?” – I curse my luck.
Now sprinting towards the end of a fasting day is not the wisest thing to do. But these guys with me, as I was about to realize, had a completely different sense of sanity! Finally we reach the nearest mosque. I am exhausted by now. To make things worse, we were late and they are done with their Kanji (the elixir with which you quench a parching throat and fasting stomach). We manage a gulp of water luckily.
I am the first to get out of the mosque. I can’t wait to feed something hot and spicy to my craving tummy! Ahh the taste – it’s almost teasing my tongue now! I am controlling myself; calming myself down saying only few more minutes.
Out comes Shereej. There began my series of moments of the day. To dwell further into this character – My dear friend Shereej is notorious for changing cell phones (coz he keeps losing one every now and then!). This time around, he was using his sim card in Issam’s cell. The last I saw was him texting someone over the phone when we got down from the moving bus. And now he claims he doesn’t have the phone with him!!!
I am beginning to lose my control. “Why today God? Couldn’t you have saved this tamasha for another day?” – I cry to myself.
“Shiras, did you try calling the no:” – Issam queries
“No luck so far. It’s ringing but nobody is picking”
“Are you sure you had it with you when you entered the A.T.M?” – This time he queries Shereej
I told you, he thinks too much!
“Positive” – retorts Shereej
“If only you had a tinge of positivity in your sense man” – I say it in my mind.
“All right then, let’s check the A.T.M first.” – Issam concludes.
The second sprint begins; by now I am totally exhausted. And sure enough, there was no phone there. We keep trying his no: from my cell but no luck. Just when we are about to give up, someone picks up my call. All I hear is tidbits of Hindi. As much as I try to make sense, I fail. I cut and call again but this time around no answer. My repeated attempts are in vain.
“I’ll tell you what, let’s try from a different number” – suggests Shereej
I remind him we only had two cells and he just lost one.
“We’ll get a landline”
“HMMM.. this guy is just impossible.” – I mutter to myself
“We’ll try the medical shop – they’ll help. I mean they are supposed to help right?” – saying that he goes straight into the med shop.
I am sure no one can beat this character now!
Luckily they get to use the phone. And Eureka – they get a lady on the phone.
“Yes they have our phone!!” – shouts an excited Shereej
He seemed as though he won a lottery. It’s after all a silly cell. That too some stupid dumb model; I control my emotions.
“What? Kidhar? Okay… got it… Hum aa rahein hain…” he bangs the phone and almost kisses the chemist.
“Guys, they are in some kovil (Temple) in East Tambaram – that’s where they are.”
“The other side of the track you mean?” I ask him to be sure
“yes. Let’s go”
The next thing I know Issam and Shereej are running.
“Wait”. I shout. I am just done with sprinting for the day.
Am I to be blamed for coming with these guys now? – I try to introspect
Before I get an answer, my stomach poses another question and I quickly grab a puff and water packet from a roadside shop and jog behind. These guys are running like mad. They show little respect to all the vehicles riding like racers, blaring their horns on a paranoid street. I somehow drag my feet and trod along. I am on the verge of fainting by the time I reach the railway track. I see it closed and sigh in relief. But before I can calm myself, I see the two of them trying to cross.
“Wait. Don’t. Train coming” - I try to scream
“Issam… Shereej…” No avail.
I can understand Shereej, but I thought Issam will have some sense in him. I see the train, I hear the horn. I am at a distance and all I can do is watch.
It’s after all a silly phone! Why make it a life saving event?? – I can only speak to myself.
“Lord – let me not see this”
Since there was no sound, I assumed these guys crossed over. The train finally passes. I was half expecting them to be beaten up by the people around for trying such acrobatics. I look around. No signs of any crowd gathering.
Safe – I say to myself
Now where are these guys? Did they just hit into somebody else?
I walk to the other side and look around. No trace of them.
The water I drank must have evaporated by now. My brains refuse to even think. I don’t know where to start now. I try the number again. No answer.
I decide to ask someone about the Kovil and look for people around. I see a truck parked at the side. I slowly walk toward it. Before I could ask, I realize people are trying to push the truck from behind. Having gone thus far, I am also asked to join. I go behind and lo, there I see my beloved friends. Pushing a truck!!!
What on earth is going on man?
This day is just killing me now. What on earth is happening!!! I want to bang my head against the truck now.
Having started the truck, I remind them it’s not to push a truck that we came this far.
“Yeah. Let’s find out about this kovil now” – saying that Issam goes to the nearby shop
He comes back and we learn that there is no kovil, rather it’s a street named after a kovil! We try Shereej’s number but now they are back to the eloping game. No answer!
So we have in front of us an entire street. We decide to do what we can. Get into each house and enquire! The first house is locked so we are saved the torture. The second one is a little big. It has this ancestral house sort of lay out with a big courtyard and all. Issam is worried there will be dogs inside. I tell him since we came this far, no dog will come in our way! The portico door is open and from the distance we can see someone at the other end. We go a little closer. We figure there is more than one person but they simply refuse to come forward. Enough is enough I say and go closer to ring the bell. That’s when I realize it’s a mirror at the other end! The house owner must have been a Mani Ratnam fan – I think to myself.
An old lady comes when we ring the bell. We have a tough time explaining what a cell phone is to her. So we stop it there.
The next and next, we are almost on the verge of giving up when I receive a call from an unknown number.
“HELLO. THIS IS SHEREEJ’S DAD. WHERE IS SHEREEJ? WHO IS HE WITH? WHY IS A LADY ANSWERING HIS PHONE? IS HE NOT IN THE HOSTEL? I WANT AN EXPLANATION”
He demands quite a lot from me. Not knowing where to start, I hand the phone to the chief protagonist. After a few minutes spent in convincing and compulsive listening, he hands the phone over to me with a neat smile.
I didn’t even bother smiling back.
“Look there’s a guy standing at the gate. We’ll check with him” – says Issam
We go to him and try explaining the situation to him. All of us are thoroughly exhausted by now and we are cribbing something or the other. The worried man asks us to come inside. Makes us sit and asks us to calm down.
Now he probes us with questions, one after the other. The guy claims he is a retired police guy. I doubt if he is just trying to act smart and get away with the phone himself! I am continuously trying Shereej’s number all the time. Suddenly Issam screams – I hear it!
We are all looking at him now.
“I hear it! Do you?” – He is on his feet now.
We all hear it now! It’s the bloody ring tone. Issam’s ring tone. The stupid unfamiliar ring tone of a Siemens phone. We ran outside and we hear the ring tone even more clearly.
“There”- Shereej screams and runs
We follow him and almost fall on the family walking outside.
There. A dumbstruck man, his wife and children are staring at us.
They were in a fix. They had to give the phone to us. Apparently all the while they were trying hard to switch the thing off but with no luck. I have to admit – Issam is a genius for using that godforsaken phone!
“I knew it. We would find it!” – claims the oracle Shereej
What can I say? Can you even comment on such prodigious remarks??
I gather all my energy and shout out - “Can we have some food now?”
Story, screenplay, Narration, Art direction, editing, supervision: Shiras
content writer: Issam
P.S: If I were to think of adventures in college, this one would be one of the best. In terms of characters I encountered, this one will be testimony to the varieties I had around me.