This bit winds to a logical(?) conclusion the saga that began two episodes ago.
It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I rang the bell to her place.
Lakshmi opened the door with an almost unnaturally bright smile. Just as I switched on that charming smile of mine that has most women go weak-kneed, she switched hers off abruptly.
‘Oh its you… wait here! I have some work inside.’
Before I could say anything; hell, before I could wipe that increasingly ridiculous grin off my face, she’d gone inside, leaving behind nothing but the wafting stench of cheap perfume.
A few minutes later, as I stood waiting for her at the door, she swept past me with an imperious wave of her hand and began walking down the stairs.
I realized this was the cue for me to follow her.
Experience has taught me that a capricious chap up there in the sky creates two kinds of people – the first, who are nature’s doormats, and the second, who wipe their feet, faces and other bodily orifices with nature’s doormats. I am one of the former, without a shadow of doubt. And therefore, I walked behind her docilely.
The day was evidently something special. We picked another equally malodourous female who was overdosed on perfume on the way to the theatre.
It was then that it struck me that I didn’t know which movie we were going for?
‘Er…Lakshmi…’, I spoke cautiously.
She turned to me, slightly piqued for having interrupted an earth-shaking discussion on the merits of bubblegum-pink corsets or some other equally uninteresting creature.
‘Er, what movie are we going to watch?’
‘Boys!, of course. It is such a cool movie, no?’
‘No…er…I mean, yes, it is…’
I was shocked and disgusted. I had had the misfortune of attending the press preview for the movie, and did not want to watch it again. Ah, Kismet, I muttered to myself, looking heavenward.
Cut to: The Theatre
It was at the parking lot that I remembered the nasty looking bear that I’d unearthed from a corner of Amma Fancy Stores the day before.
After I parked the car, I noisily searched through my bag, trying to find where the ugly bastard had hidden himself.
The filthy little teddy bear looked back at me. It was then that it dawned upon me that the bear’s countenance bore an uncanny resemblance to 50 cent’s.
‘Happy Birthday, Lakshmi. You can call him 50 cent bear, if you so wish.’, I said, brightly.
She looked at me blankly, ’50 send aa? What are you saying?’
‘Oh nothing… a token of my gratitude, affection and all that kind of jazz. Er… I mean, a happy birthday gift.’, ended I, rather lamely, sounding like a 4th standard kid out of a cheap Hindi movie.
I thought of singing Happy birthday out loud, or telling her that I’d sacrificed yesterday’s drug fix to get her this, but thought the better of it.
‘Oh, thanks’, she said shortly.
In a few minutes we were at the ticket counter, where a few others, including Gandhi, himself awaited our arrival. It was then that Lakshmi spoke.
‘I’m thirsty.’, she grunted.
It was then that Machiavellian blighter, the biggest pestilence to inflict India since the Bengal famine, spoke up.
‘Dai, Siddhu… go get us some Mirindas da. We’re thirsty’, said Gandhi.
I looked at him incredulously.
I gave him a scathing look and asked him, ‘Do I look like a big brown pot marked ‘Kudineer Thanni’ (Drinking Water) with Jayalalitha’s picture on it? Go get your own Mirinda.’
A few minutes later, I walked alone towards the refreshment stand to get the six Mirindas requested for.
As I distributed the Mirindas around, Lakshmi turned to me.
‘Aeey, really sweet of you, wokay? Now give me forty rupees.’
I looked at her, surprised.
‘Dai, ticket charge, da…’
‘Bu..but, your treat.. birth..day..what?’, I muttered, a man in a daze.
‘Aeey, you know how costly tickets are these days. And a birthday is so expensive –‘, and went on to detail a whole list of (frivolous) things she had had to gift herself on her birthday.
Cut to: Inside the Theatre
Boys, to a man of refined tastes and sensibilities, is an unbearable movie. And therefore, being a man of refined tastes and sensibilities, I considered it my responsibility to jeer and boo loudly around 20 minutes into the movie.
‘Shhhh….’, said Gandhi, a nasty glint in his eyes.
‘Fuck you da, bastard!’, I said, a little too loudly.
‘Hey, we are with girls. Please conduct yourself with more propriety, and behave less like a boor, and more like… Er… just don’t be yourself, that’ll do.’
This from a bloke who had danced more vigorously than the auto drivers in the front row at a screening of Baba.
I was about to bamboozle him with a stinging rebuke when Lakshmi brusquely asked me to shut up. I shut up.
At the end of the day, I had decided that I would have to end this charade the next day.
The next day came, as surely as the one before it had.
I walked towards Lakshmi in the Computer Lab. After a few minutes spent searching for a voice that had gone A.W.O.L, I spoke -
‘Er…Lakshmi I do not intend to burn my yellow t-shirt... or cut my toe nails.’
Not the strong stuff that curls the blood and curdles the hair –or even the other way around. And not exactly what I intended to say, either.
‘What?’, said she, rather surprised.
‘I mean, I’m not on drugs.’
She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face, ‘Yeah, I know. I speak to you now, no? So your lovesick heart doesn’t need dope anymore. You already told me so.’, and turned away.
‘N…no, I never was on dope. I don’t like you. We were pulling a prank on you.’
‘What? Are you stoned now?’, asked she, incredulously.
‘No… I mean, yes. I mean, no I am not crazy about you… Ask Gandhi. He was involved in the plan from the very outset’, and pointed to Gandhi who sat nearby, smirking.
Now, this would be fun, I thought to myself. Gandhi’s silver tongued oratory would teach Lakshmi what was what! Never again would she try to get a chappie to burn his beloved yellow t-shirt. Or clean his toe-nails.
‘What plan? See, Lakshmi. This poor old fruit was head over heels in love with you.
‘I tried telling him several times that with a brain like Salman Khan’s and looks like a B-grade Hindi film villain’s, he didn’t stand a chance. Oh but he wouldn’t listen. He started doing drugs. He was pining for you.
Then I got him to speak to you. But you, very obviously, gave him the raspberry and sent him away with a flea in his ear.’
‘Yeah, that’s what I did. I told him not to darken my doorstep ever again. But these persistent pests, you know.So I thought, seri, Iyyoo paavam…’, said Lakshmi.
I watched thunderstruck
‘Anyway, the point is – Siddhu, don’t try to cover your tracks up by pretending not to be in love with her. Hell, wasn’t I with you when you spent 350 bucks on that really cute teddy bear who looked just like Dr. Dre…I mean, Winnie the Pooh?’, said Gandhi viciously.
I was at a loss for words. All my mind could focus on was the little voice which kept yelling, ‘Machiavelli strikes again…’
I could barely hear in the background Gandhi assuring Lakshmi that I wouldn’t bother her again, and that yeah, he agreed completely with her on how all ‘em desperate bastards were the same.
‘Tis the year 2005. The year 2006 inches closer.
I walk through the portals of the old institution one last time to collect a few certificates.
A couple of juniors I know smirk as I pass by them.
I hear one of them whisper to another, ‘This guy was crazy about some chick, and actually got her lots of gifts worth over a thousand bucks. But didn’t work out for him, poor fellow…’
I desperately tried to ignore an impulse to punch both the bastards and walked away. Besides, they were bigger than me…
‘Tis the year 2015. The year 2016 inches closer.
I walk through the portals of the old institution yet again, to attend a reunion of the class of 2005. I look much the same – ugly as sin – except for a few inches around the waist.
Gandhi walks up to me with the rest of the ingrates who populated my room that fateful night.
‘Dai, Siddhu! Machcha, still remember how you went so crazy over that Lakshmi chick that you stole five thousand bucks from your dad’s wallet to treat her at the Park?’