All the boys got into the school bus, except for one. He deliberately missed the bus and wandered away. Playing cards on the roadside, he became great friends with taxiwallas, thugs, small time convicts, prostitutes and other interesting elements who lived on the fringes of society. He learnt to gamble, smoke, drink and shoot drugs. At the end of his experimentation he was hooked on to alcohol and gaming, somehow the psychadellic claws of drugs had let him go. To feed his lifestyle he did many things, worked very hard, accumulated no PF and frittered away every rupee he earned. Nobody could, however, accuse him of not having a good time.

His parents despaired, a wife he loved once left him, he forgot about his children and on some days couldn’t even remember whether he really had them. Eventually he got old but that didn’t slow him down. He continued making small time deals, enough to feed his belly, his cards and his thirst.

One day, an old classmate who took the bus tracked him down and convinced him to come for their school reunion. He immediately agreed spotting a free drink. As he walked up to the hall, he saw the drive filled with cars. BMWs tried to outshine mercs, while many many Corollas and Hondas hung around, as their drivers leaned on their hoods smoking. He saw that some of the drivers wore better shoes than him.

He entered the hall and spotted the bar before his friends spotted him. Armed with a large, he circulated chatting. Soon a large crowd formed around him as he told them stories of his wild days. They were fascinated. At one point he was a bit embarrassed about hogging the conversation and turned to a penguin looking man next to him and asked him what he did. The man self-consciously muttered something about being in a bank, having two kids but compared to his story of his left kneecap being torn slowly by a butter knife, it did fall flat. His classmates almost dismissed the poor penguin’s story and urged him to continue.

The whole night, he recounted one adventure after the other. Forgotten were his frayed shirt, dirty sandals, grimy jeans. Somebody kept refilling his glass as his mouth moved fascinating the listeners taking them to lands they had not even read of. Every time he would try to break the monotony of his voice and ask one of the other classmates for their story, the others would shush him or make some disparaging remark like the most excitement that guy had was looking at his secretary’s legs and then would urge him to continue, to tell them what happened next and next and next.

As the night wandered away with words, people began to leave, mumbling about work and family. He hung around as he had neither. All of them hugged him, said that they envied his rich life filled with amazing incidents and moaned about their boring existences as they drove away in their shiny BMWs and mercs.


Published by


v.k. arathi menon. wordsmith. traveller. single malt lover. book devourer. humour seeker. sometimes humble pie eater. tweets @unopenedbottle. columnist

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