At times philosophical and at times spiritual..At times jovial and at times sad.. At times musical and at times whimsical..At times frivolous and at times serious..What’s life but a mere conglomeration of these paradoxes..??..
“Oh what can ail thee,knight-at-arms,alone and palely loitering..??..So haggard and so woe-begone..???”
That was my state of mind while waiting for my friend,that evening,under the portico of the Osmania University Engineering college’s Electrical Engineering department..
As promised me in the morning my beloved friend asked me to wait there,our haven for drinking beers,and went to get a bottle of my favorite Sand Piper Beer for me..My friend knows my tastes and habits very well so must have really played some big tricks on his Dad to grab the money that’s needed not only for our Beers that evening but also for those lovely omelettes,from the famous Sattar bhai canteen,I would love to have with my Beer..
It was around 7.15 p m that day with extreme darkness all around combined with a little light that’s scattered here and there…It was also time for the All India Radio Vividh Bharathi’s most popular songs program “Jayamala” and I could clearly hear Talat Mehmood’s famous song “Jalte hain jiske liye..” (Sujata-S.D.Burman) coming from a nearby employees’ quarters….
I was waiting all alone,in that darkness there,for quite a lot of time..The shadows of the nearby Ashoka tress were dancing on my face with a pleasant gentle breeze playing hide n seek with me..At that moment I was deeply engrossed in many incoherent thoughts ranging from John Keats to William Shakespeare to Kama Sutra to Krishna consciousness..PERIOD
Trying to endure my solitude and also the silence around me…
I tried to make a visual survey of all the things that were there in the field of my vision,that moment…I first looked at my lovely Hero bicycle that brought me there..Later looked at those distant lights that were put up on a tall pole,in the garden,in front of the Osmania University Engineering College..
Then looked at the adjoining empty university road that was already getting ready to sleep and I also looked at the Andhra Mahila Sabha building that’s there on the other side of the road..And then I finally looked at my dream field, the lovely Cricket ground that was there right in front of me..
“I am monarch of all I survey,my right there is none to dispute,from the centre all round to the sea,I am lord of the fowl and the brute..”
“..Most of our childhood friends have grown up playing Cricket there in that small Engineering College Cricket ground which is now replaced by a flower garden.. Playing Cricket matches in that ground every Sunday; sipping Beer in the evening sitting under the portico of the Electrical Engineering department; singing old Mukesh songs loudly,were some of the most cherished moments of my college days’ life..”
I suddenly came out of my thoughts with a jerk as I was shattered with the loud noise of an old electric motor approaching me..Much to my relief,I found my friend coming on the world’s oldest and the noisiest Lambretta scooter..
I quickly got up from my place and helped my tiny friend comfortably park that heavy Lambretta scooter..Offering me his sincere apologies for the delay in reaching there,my friend took out two chilled bottles of Sand Piper Beer, from the scooter’s basket,along with two more packets of hot omelettes rolled in a news paper..
WOW..What else do we need in our life..???
Am an expert in opening Beer bottle caps,using the teeth,and I did the same thing that time too and offered one bottle to my friend and took another into my hands..
Cheering each other joyfully we started sipping the Beer slowly..
I was silent for the initial few minutes as my attention was still on that lovely Talat Mehmood’s song coming from the nearby residential quarters radio…
“Dil mein rakhlena ise haathon se ye chootena kahin..geet nazook hain mera sheeshe se bhi toote na kahin..gungunaoonga yehi geet main tereliye..”…
No matter who the singer is,my friend has this abominable habit of combining his unbearable singing voice with every male and female singer he listens to and tries to sing the whole song along with them..He tried to do the same that moment too by singing along with Talat Mehmood,however,one serious look from me averted a great disaster as Talat saab continued singing in solo..
“Jab talak naa ye tere ras ke bhare hothon se mile,yu hi awaara phiregaa ye teri zulfon ke thale..gaaye jaoonga yehi geet main tere liye..””
Downing a large sip of Beer and laughing loudly,I told my friend,”What a song re and how aptly it is depicting our situation..hahaha”..
My friend too acknowledged with a hearty smile..
With one sip after the other,my mind started calming down slowly…The stream of consciousness that was tormenting me till that point of time,too,started diminishing slowly..After calming my mind with it’s initial four or five sips,it normally takes another eight or ten sips for the chilled Beer to wake up the singer Mukesh in me..
It did the same that time too as the Mukesh saab in me woke up immediately, singing “Chal akela,chal akela,chal akelaaa…Tera mela peeche chootaa raahi chal akelaaa..”..
That was my friend’s favorite song and he was extremely delighted with the choice of my song..Saying “wah..wah..” he started encouraging me as I have slightly increased the volume of my singing with the first stanza..
“..Hazaaron meel lambe raasate tuz ko bulaate…yahaa dukhade sehane ke vaasste tuz ko bulaate..hai kaun saa wo insaan yahaa par jisane dukh naa zhelaa..”..
I was enjoying my singing to the core and went into raptures while rendering the high note that comes at the end of the stanza..I have stopped abruptly,at the landing note,to have two more sips of that lovely chilled Sand Piper Beer.. WOW..
My friend was already half way through with his Beer and was encouraging my singing to the best of his abilities..He was surprised at the sudden pause I gave at that point.. However,he understood why I paused as I started preparing to sing the next stanza after gulping down a little quantity of Beer from the bottle..
My friend,in between,offered me a piece of his Omelette in appreciation of my singing..I tried to sing the next stanza of the song but was unable to recollect it except the first couple of words..
“..Teraa koi saath naa de..”
I was fumbling and trying and trying and fumbling..Nope..I was unable to make any progress as the chilled Beer,I was enjoying that far,has already started showing it’s dubious effects on me making my speech and mind completely numb..
I looked helplessly at my friend..
Putting his right hand around my shoulders my friend said… “Forget it Balu (that’s my pet name my childhood friends,fellow cricketers and family members still use to address me)..There’s something very important I want to tell you right now..May I..??”..
He paused for my permission..
Laughing loudly,I asked him..”..Abey..Do you really need my permission to say something to me..ye kab se re saale..”
Nodding his head silently,he said in a low tone..”Balu…But you may not like what I say..”
“..What the %&#@ I like it or not dude..You can say whatever you want to say… Ab itna senti kyu hora hain bey..” I almost shouted at him in a semi intoxicating voice…The Beer in me was doing it’s job to perfection..
My friend hesitated for a few more moments..He then looked at me for a while and later said in a very hesitant tone..”..Arey Balu..As your best friend and well wisher whatever am telling you right now is only in your interest and I have no intention to hurt you at all..And if I don’t tell you now,at least now,I will be doing gross injustice to you and to our friendship..”..
I was baffled,but not with the seriousness in my friend’s voice but with the firmness in his tone.. Suddenly my friend was looking so different to me..
I seriously looked at his bespectacled face which,at that time,was looking more seriously at the vacant Cricket ground that was lying naked in front of us..I know he was trying to compose himself to say whatever he wanted to say..
But what’s that..??..
Preparing myself to hear something very serious from him,I asked my friend to just go ahead and say whatever he wanted to say..
After a little more pause he started with a slight hesitation in his tone..
“Balu..We were in the bus stop today morning and suddenly that beautiful girl came..In the very first look you fell head over heels for her..That appeared very idiotic to me but I thought “anything for you”..She boarded the bus and left us..but you were upset because we couldn’t board the bus along with her.. Though I was in no way responsible for whatever has happened,you still cursed me very badly for that..I was deeply hurt but again I told myself “Anything for you”..
I was listening to my friend with rapt attention unable to figure out where that conversation is heading to..
“..Balu,after that you were very upset for a long time so we thought of going to a movie..I know you wanted to go to Khel khel mein because you are a fan of R.D.Burman and love his songs..You know that I too wanted to watch the same movie though not for it’s music but for Neetu Singh..But you unnecessarily played a trick on me because you wanted to have a Beer in the evening.. Knowing pretty well about your trick,I again told myself “anything for you” and still offered to get you a Beer in the evening just to make you happy..”
My dear friend is elder to me by about two years or so but in our eight years of friendship he never gave me a chance to think that he’s such a smart guy..He was suddenly appearing to me like a man with a twenty year old body and with a forty year old head..Oh God..
My friend continued..”Balu..I have grown up in an atrocious atmosphere,as a disturbed child,of an ever quarreling parents..Eight years ago when I have for the first time seen your noble parents and your lovely family I have realized what I have so far missed in my life..I have then learned about the importance of harmony between the wife and husband and the importance of creating a congenial atmosphere at home for the children to grow up normally..”
I suddenly started feeling terrible from inside,a feeling normally criminals will have when caught red handed…
My friend continued..”Balu..then..I also realized what I should not do in my home and what I should do for my children to help them grow up in harmony and peace…Balu,during my learning process I also have realized how important it is to have a good friend like you forever..As your best friend now,I don’t mind doing anything for you just to please you and make you happy..I also don’t mind forgetting the whole world just to remember you forever..”
I was finding it very difficult to control myself..Finding it very difficult to suppress my emotions and finding it very difficult to prevent myself from breaking down as my lovely friend continued..
“Balu..I may also say “anything for you” a billion more times on a billion more occasions but I will not be there with you all the time whenever you need that to be said..You will be on your own tomorrow and you may have to live with a different set of people and at different places..That’s why I request you not to judge any person by his appearance..Face is not always the index of the mind and looks are many times deceptive..For whatever reason please do not play any trick on anyone..That may cause irreparable damage to your life,career and relationship…Wherever I am,I will be hurt if people feel bad about you and spread anything bad about you..”
At this point of time I really started feeling complete numbness in my brain and heaviness in my heart as the tiny gates of my tender eyes were preparing to open up any moment..
“Balu,you are smart and intelligent but always learn to live life on your own terms.. Sorry if I have said something that you will not appreciate..But I want to caution you about this world and about the people living in this world..I know what I have so far lost in my life but I don’t want you to lose anything in your life..”
I was finding a gradual haze in the field of my vision..I was also finding fullness in my eyes and emptiness in my mind..It was like a feeling great warriors may experience in the battlefield when they suddenly realize they are going to lose a battle they thought they would certainly win..
I was still trying not to lose myself..I was still trying to control myself..I was still trying to give a bold projection..I was still trying to maintain a balance..I was still trying hard to prevent my friend from knowing that my eyes too shed tears..
But all my efforts to control myself have failed miserably with that final statement of my friend..
And this is what my beloved friend finally said…
“Balu,I do not know whether you consider me your best friend or not but you are my best friend today and you will always be my best friend forever..And shall I now remind you the second stanza of “chal akela” song which you have forgotten a few minutes ago..None of us know our tomorrow and I may or not be there with you forever but learn to live life all alone..And that’s what this stanza says..”
“..Teraa koi saath naa de toh,tu khud se preet jod le..bichhaunaa dharatee ko kar ke,arey aakaash odh le..yahaa pooraa khel abhee jeewan kaa toone kahaa hain khelaa..chal akela..chal akela..chal akelaaa”
Continued in A True Love Story-Am Still Waiting For This Lady-Part-Four