Imagine these beggar folk respond instantly to the ring of that bell at Sani Mandir, Police Bazaar. They crowd to get prasad and milk or bread. Once I saw an old fat Marwari man throw bread packets to them, for he was in holiday spirit, and the Khasi shoppers looked on only with slight affectation cause there wasn’t a Khasi snatching hand holding up for Dkhar bread. Not in their minds anyway.
It might shock you or insult you to hear me call them dogs. But don’t be. You’re one too and so are we all. It’s just that our bells are inaudible, dog whistles. Let’s respond quickly to law or sermon. Hop to it, skip to that beat. Don’t be insulted.
How could I force myself, my friend? How could I possibly come to see your body, which just a few hours ago was filled with life, albeit writhing in pain? How could I possibly face the faces of your disheartened family who had always welcomed me into your home, with pleasant smiles? How could I look upon you without seeing your body, animated and erect, daring me to step off into the unknown?
The steps, which we used to run down on, are now so formidable. There is the block we used to sit upon, overlooking the stream (drain), as we shared a bottle of beer between us. It also overlooks the cemetery where they have laid you down in.
I suppose they can only speculate, who have never tasted such rapture and joyous madness as we: who might have never examined as we did, then burst out laughing at our own pretentiousness. We were more foolish then, driven by foolish things, sometimes swayed here and there by forces outside our brains and bodies. But we were together.
I can still smile, my friend; considering all that, I still smile. There is where my dear friend is buried; I shall point out to all who pass by the hill with me.
How close were the two of you, papa? I look at them sitting in the back so filled with the promise of life. And behold 10 years have passed! Like that. Then I shall think about that again and again and the memory of you will be invoked frequently, as though to remember you is to recall myself in some way. I always say shish before I utter your name because it seems to have a peculiar ability to convey both disgust and a sense of waste or loss. The left hand automatically props up my head at such moments.