So Vyas, the eclipsed sun of our story and son of a late Army official and a typically illiterate sweaterknitting, two-saree-owner mother works at a bank to only earn his bread as there’s hardly anything left for butter.
A 5’7” shabby 26 year old boy or man, he knows best, Vyas is elbow-complexioned with red lips and facial skin like a tanned buffalo’s! His hair puff was the only visible feature of his façade that whispered of his youth. His textured hair kept him seeing a mirror each morning, being shamelessly oblivious to his premature ageing!
All these miraculous features with a life of struggles at pinnacles and the not-to-miss banker’s job barred his masculinity to mid-bathing masturbation sessions and occasional cleavage peeps in the bus.
Today was supposed to be like any other sans-energy, sans-smile day when for the first half he opens his mouth for customering and Gold-flaking and second half for customering, Gold-flaking and burping, adding foul-odour yawns in the siesta hours.
But the evening had unexpected waiting for Vyas. Enough to kill the yawning and stir him!
Vyas while dealing with the customers usually kept his head low for two reasons. 1) He doesn’t want futile socialization as he calls it atrophy and 2) he doesn’t want people to see his face and make unwanted gestures with their.
But today there was a head lifting voice after the lunch that made him alter the angle of his neck. This was Vyas’ friend- a college pal- Surojit. His sight made Vyas’ lips flicker in a welcoming gesture for it was after 6 years of college that he saw a known face. After opening his new account, vyas opened the conversation as he replaced a hesitant colleague at his desk.
The conversation, ought to be loud and hearty was low and short. Both talked of college, life after college and job. On Vyas’ question about livelihood, Surojit’s answer was-“I am still wandering”. Vyas, not to embarrass him, carpeted the topic. After some Gold-flaking, both bid farewell to each other with the promise to meet monthly in the bank.
With this promise they parted and Vyas replaced the replacement. As Vyas enveloped himself in monotonous, single-syllable routine, he was still brooding college times which used to be umpteen times better (he even used to be fairer than this in the college). He started smoking on 3rd day of college. He loved Bindra, who loved Krishnan, who loved Padmaja and Padmaja ran with her domestic help Mutur, a bihari. Bindra consoled Krishnan and today they are happily married with two kids, darker than their parents, perhaps a shade darker than Vyas even. Had Padmaja not ran with her domestic help, Vyas would have a Social and biological outlets to enjoy. But college was not that bad after all. He watched his first porn film in college, a Srilankan porn movie with 1 hour of foreplay and 10 minutes of action.
Vyas attributes his virginity to such a gory exposure first then to his social circle and finally to his facade. The only women he knows other than his mother is Mrs Lakshmi a co-worker. Vyas thinks Mrs Lakhsmi met her menopause at least a decade ago and her husband could gather the courage to fornicate with her only twice, for they have two children.
His Virginity was a celibacy which always left Vyas in the purgatory of pride and prejudice.
All these and more thoughts, as fast they travel, steered him to Surojit, for this flashback was an upshot of his arrival. Surojit never attended mathematics class, the professor was his father. His Bengali sister was far better than any other girl in the college. He and Vyas became friends at the end of first year. Vyas took his Bajaj Vespa when he went to Bindra’s house (in his best shirt-RED) to say her happy birthday.
And suddenly, Vyas froze in his chair. The floor slipped from under. With wide eyes and sweat drops forming on his forehead Vyas recalled a haunting memory… Surojit died in the final year of college. It was an accident. A bus ran over him while he was driving his Vespa.
Thick sputum formed in his throat. And like the sputum, Vyas could not digest he met with a dead person or-what froze his spine-a ghost.
It took him three minutes and a customer’s meddling to regain mundane consciousness. As he finished the work till evening, he decided to check his records for he address Surojit gave him. It seemed that the spree of surprises was not over.
The form bore the address of their college.
Vyas held his scalp into hands to grab all that happened to him. Did that mean Surojit was still living in college? Is surojit, the now metaphysical, still attached to college memoirs? How long will he be like this? Will he come again? Then Surojit’s righteous words echoed deafeningly in his head
“I am still wandering”
His spirit was wandering in the college compound and it came to see an old friend six years after they parted.