Saturday, 6 September 2014

Stephan C. Hmar, 06.09.2014

I  heard good things about him, repetitively.

They said he is the good guy who don’t drink, smoke, or chew paan. He offers regular prayers, read the Scriptures every morning and evening and groomed his hairs nicely, and always ironed his clothes. And above all, they said, he doesn’t know how to spend money and he doesn’t need money.

My mind asked me, A person who doesn’t know how to spend money and who doesn’t need money? I want to be like him…..

It had been my lifelong desire to be able to have such a faith in such a divine providence as his, and be comfortably provided for, free of cost. I would have been able to save more money, would have looked more dandy and respectable. 

Naturally, I simply go with the flow and do not have a high regard of myself. But the hovering good thing about this guy suddenly made me feel my rank in the line of survival all the more lower. To add to that, they said, he is coming for an official visit to your place of posting and will stay with you for 6 days as a guest if you wish so.

I felt it could be rather  the  oddest  situation, to have such a perfect guest. However, in the long run, I felt it could be a positive turn of events, to rediscover myself, to learn at least a few good manners from the guy.

Before coming down to me, he gave me miss calls, mostly at 4 AM, every day for one month and fifteen day, to be specific. I always called him back to hear his angelic, ethical voice as I used to feel more safe. He would tell me all his prayers are for me, that I am a pre-planned man of god to provide a free shelter in the remotest part of the world, and that I am for his blessings and him, for my blessings. The air of conversations used to be as rich, as promising, as prosperous as discovering a gold mine. 

But before I realized it, I grew grumpy and foggy and loss weight which then forcefully let me see a doctor. He asked me, Do you sleep well?

I said, Well! Not exactly,doc! I have to wake up at 4 AM. Call of duty…you know?
Doctor said, Try to sleep well.

I accepted the setbacks as I feel I was positive that he was going to bring a positive change in me. I can sleep when I am dead, I said and carry on with the ʻmiss-call, call-backʼ business at 4 A.M. for one month and 15 days, until one day the doctor, out of no choice, prescribed me 60 chewable tablets of JIVA SLEEP WELL.

At last, the man I was most anxious to see have arrived. I got a call at 3.15 PM. He said, Iʼm at the Airport checking out. And I am like a blind man now, not knowing directions of which way to go.

I left my office files and hastened towards the airport. He was there standing by the Airport, exactly in a way I had calculated---well ironed pair of black trousers, shining shoes and silky hairs parted in the middle, but a small handbag.

I said, It is a privilege to see you.

He said politely, The privilege is mine. He continued, I do not expect you to be thin and frail like this. Looks like you are not keeping with the name I know, and he laughed.

I replied, with a white lie, There have been a setback, routine change in my line of duty and I guess it is affecting my physique. But I took it to my advantage. After all, you know, duty is God and duty calls.

He said, Nay!Nay! Remember the proverb, if health is lost, something is lost. You should keep your health torched up.

I looked at him and just smiled.

I said, You know, I cook myself and I feel we can head to market first and then home. You must be hungry.

He yelled, Well, thatʼs very fine. I am a great admirer of cook, especially great cook. And I bet you will be a great cook.

We went to the market, and I tried to offer complete generosity to my guest. I asked him, What curry would you like to have? The choice is yours.

He yelled again, Yehuuu! Thatʼs what I like. He looked around and spotted a bale of turtles and yelled again, Turtles? My favourite! Let's go for it.

I know something about turtles. Adult sea turtles tastes good, but are costly. I knew it would cost more than 800 rupees a kilo. My economy never allows me to buy things that costly. And that’s his favourite? But I took his choice in my stride, not as a setback. I purchased the turtle with all the money in my purse.

Along the journey back home, he narrated, with utmost absorption, his first turtle curry, then how to cook turtle, then how endangered turtles are, then the medicinal value of turtle and then he suddenly asked, do you have unsalted butter and fresh tomatoes?

I replied, No! Why?

He said, They are compulsory items for turtle curry.

I said, That means, without butter and tomatoes, we will not have a good turtle curry?
He said, Exactly.

I knew that my purse was empty. But somehow I need to get these two valuable ingredients. I told him to wait for me by the road and I approached one of my familiar shops, and after a long argument and clarification with the shopkeeper, I could procure the ingredients on credit. 

We, then walked up towards my place with loads of polythene. All along that 5 minutes walk, he asked me which way this and that road leads to, the name of localities, the name of the clans in majority. I was like an atom, bombarded by gamma-rays from every direction. When we reached home, the Masseter muscle holding my jaws were all strained, and I just stopped answering pressing at my jaws. 

It was the first turtle curry I had after I could reason, but it was not that good, at least in my opinion. I was in the kitchen cooking and my guest instructed me on the amount of oil, the heat intensity of the gas stove, the perfect time on when to add the ingredients and I felt, just ʻToo manyʼ is very less to spoil the ʻBroth,ʼ with this kind of  guest around.

As he was going to be with me for six days and as I wanted the time to be fruitful to rediscover myself, I took official leave for six days. But soon, I wonder whether it was actually a leave?

I got a knock at my door at every 4 AM. I prepared breakfast, and he would ask me to switch on the TV and put on his favourite channel, STAR MOVIES. After breakfast, he organized a prayer time, in which he thanked god for I was there and praised me for being such a caring host. And then we set out for his personal work. On the first day, he had to pay an auto fare of 50 rupees in all, as I did not have the proper change of coins. Maybe because of that, on the second day, before leaving the house, he took out his purse from his trousers, count the amount of money, put it safely in the drawer and said, Letʼs go!

I asked, You are not taking your wallet?

He replied, Let me rely on the richness of god.

Night time, after dinner, we would watch Movies, and if the film happened to be familiar to him, he would explain till the end. And if the film was unfamiliar, he would ask me again and again how it will end, complaining the wicked act of the villain, how he liked the hero to smudge him. And after I was dead tired with the ʻthousand voices,' he would organize a prayer session, praising god on how lucky he was and how good a host I was.

On the fourth night of his stay, at 10.30 PM, after he finished watching one movie said to me, You are so thin and frail. Tonight, we should ask god to give you a healthy body. He switched off the TV, dragged me and pressed me against the wall and started praying for my thin and frail body. He prayed loud, and lucky for him, unlucky for me, the spirit in him was forceful. I felt I was pressed at least two inches deep into the cement wall. He prayed, close to my nose, and the peculiar smell was awful. He pressed me harder, I was choking. At last, I said, I'm healed now! I'm healed now!, with the last of my strengths.

He released his hands, opened his eyes and asked, Really? Really?

I said, So very really! So very really!, exhaustively pulling myself towards the chair to lie down with my tiredness. He too was exhausted, he just sat flat on the chair. I wearily took out Rajdarbhar gutkha from my pocket, chewed a bit, and offered him saying, Will you have this?

He replied, Hey! Don’t eat those! They are bad for health. I said in my thought, your bad breath is making my health not only bad, but awful.

On the sixth day, the night before he leave we were watching the old movies, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It is still my favourite film and I wanted to watch keenly. But he kept talking, asking who was the good, the role of the bad and why they called the ugly, ugly. I secretly slipped into my bed room, took out my cotton rolls and pushed into both of my ears. He kept talking, and I watched the movie in peace.

Soon after the movie got over, I secretly removed the cotton rolls, and with a polite acts asked, How was the film? That’s my all time favourite!

He did not answer. He was busy counting his money. I stared at him for one minute, waiting for replies.

Then he said, Your  place is not that expensive as I had speculated. I came here with 1000 rupees, and I still have 950 rupees. It must be a good place for saving.

I walked slowly towards the open window. The full moon hovered above the green trees. I see the praised and the spoilt and the pretty and the ugly people walking across the street. I wonder why the moon is still shining above us all impartially.

And then I looked at my guest's moneyed-grieving-face and then I asked myself where he really fits in that bygone movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly---if life were movies, just for argument's sake! Satisfyingly, just for argument's sake, I assured myself that he fits in all the three characters. And then me? I satisfyingly assured myself that I did not fit in any of the extremities of the characters, nor any extremities of the characters in between.

I asked my guest, you seems to have something I seems to really understand!

He was one chap who could know he was captured with meanings behind questions. He  frankly said, I have mouths to feed. I have mouths to feed. 

I said, looking at the floor, I think, every one of us is fighting for the one prospect---something--always and always, in our own terms and definition.

I never look at his face again, even during the drop back at the Airport.

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