2 hours and 55 minutes. 166 km. doorstep to doorstep. fast, even by my standards. If it were simply the highway all the way, I’d have approved. It was rash riding, and I wouldn’t ever condone doing more than 80 on a two wheeler. But what was done was done, and here I am, thankful to be alive.
2 days ago. 2230 hours. SMS conversation:
G: think u wil get home by 11:30 PM?
bum: yes, think I should be home by then. Taking a break now, this will be a long one. My usual spot.
G: cool, where is this?
bum: just outside pondy. I choose a lonely stretch and sit for an hour or so in the silence.
G: silence inspires me.
bum: isn’t all silent today, there are lots of vehicles passing. I’m usually here much later in the night.
G: early huh? Well, for once, your folks would be able to call you a chamattu payyan (roughly translated to ‘well behaved kid’)
bum: haha. Can’t stop laughing to myself, at your quip, and at myself. Think I’ll leave now, take care.
G: ride safe, and btw, it’s a wonderful trait – to be able to laugh at oneself.
I am sitting there, in my usual spot, wondering if ubiquitous cell phone is a boon or a bane. For there it is in my pocket, and my fingers run to it, almost involuntarily. A few smokes and messages down the line, I decide to take in some silence, and switch off the phone. There isn’t much noise, barring the passing vehicles, which like I mentioned, is quite a lot considering the time of the day. I get used to it though, and am just sitting there. A while later, content with the solitude and intent on going home earlier than I normally do, I decide to leave. Not before reaching out for the phone and making that one last phone call. As I am talking, I see this car approach towards me, slowly, and I figure he’s going to pull up. I thought maybe it was a cop, and continue talking, for I wasn’t doing anything illegal anyways.
As the car pulls up along side me and my motorcycle, I figure it isn’t a cop.
X: who are you?
bum (surprised – I can’t see his face): well, am just a traveler I guess.
X: what are you doing here?
bum: oh just stopped off to pee.
X: I notice you’ve been here for an hour now
bum: (wondering how the hell he knew) yeah, I like to sit around and relax you know…
X: where are you from?
(By now his lights come on and I can see his ominous looking face. i also notice he is piss drunk)
X: where in pondy?
bum: Periyar Nagar
X: do you know who your MLA is?
bum: (feeling quite ashamed): er…no…
X: you shouldn’t be hanging around here like this you know. It isn’t safe for you.
bum: oh what would anybody want to do with a bum like me?
X: don’t talk back to me. Do you know who I am?
bum: (he looks like a nobody to me, an evil one though): well, nope.
X: your MLA – his name is Viswanathan. I’m his son-in-law. This isn’t a good place to be sitting around like this.
At this point, there is a feeling of fear that’s beginning to creep in. In India, there are two people to fear – one is the politician, and the other ironically, is the cop. There is a plethora of thoughts racing across my mind, as it is experiencing a mixture of discomposure and indignation. The hand slides into the pocket, and feels the switchblade lying there. The mind wants to pull it out and stab the man in his neck. Here is my opportunity, my long pending desire to kill, presenting itself before me.
‘It’s a stupid idea. You’ll be alright, probably end up in prison. But they’ll find every single contact on your phone, email and what not, and possibly destroy them’. One of my good friends, nay advisors actually, was telling me when I recently approached him with the idea of planning an assassination. it was one of those stupid fantasies – the influence of too many movies i’m sure.
Very soon, the desire to lust to kill, the brief surge of courage, the comforting feeling of being in possession of a switchblade – all these are drowned. Overcome by the fear, that rises like a tide on new moon.
X: what are you looking at me like that? do you know how many murders have taken place around this place in the last couple of months?
bum: but why would anybody want to murder a bum like me?
X: coz u talk too much. Move on, don’t just sit there. This is no place to chill out.
As I ride away, the fear is soon replaced by shame. Of living in a free land, and yet being denied of that very thing they call freedom. Of not being able to speak my mind. Of being scared – of death.
and, I am thinking of one other thing – if the bum finds such adventures, or if they’re destined to find him.
The 3 day break happened to be most beautiful and relaxing, as it was spent at home, trying to be of assistance to the old parents. They seem to be growing younger by the day. No wonder they say old people are like children. When we knew about having 3 days off work, I was contemplating going out someplace – a trek, or even a long ride into the wilderness. I am grateful I didn’t have the money to do that, for I ended up being home, and someone was very happy.