By Piyush Roy
Part 8 / Series 1
I was definitely never the guy, who was loved instinctively. That essential special person who people would wait for, before beginning parties and upon whose arrival everyone would stand up and begin smiling and laughing and shaking hands for no apparent reason. There could be multiple reasons for the same. My bouts of intellectual paranoia, my self-consuming obsession for lonely claustrophobia or a careless handling of relationships guided by a simple lethargic amnesia. Not particularly handsome, nor very intelligent or rich, my adaptive go’s at aping the affluent urbanites of my class was the stuff turn-offish PJs could be made of. Egged further by my current confession mode, I wouldn’t even mind admitting to the extent that if at all I decided to pen my autobiography, it couldn’t have a more apt title than, ‘Obdurate Habits of A Positively Defective Guy.’ Still Tammy took to me, and gradually followed the others. She gave me sex appeal, but what did she derive from me in turn? Probably Madam Mona had an answer.
“My name is Mona Kapoor,” beamed the fat cow, as Anisha had termed her pretty unabashedly at first sight, though I found her quite cute. Rather ‘pleasantly plump,’ as they say on the dating sites, she looked as if she was about to deliver. Of course, anything but a lecture! That was the last thing Madam Mona ever did in a class of fifty minutes. She talked subjects only in the last ten minutes, religiously eating away our short breaks between periods and sizable chunks of the next faculty’s class. But that’s how was this unique, multi-purpose faculty who taught Organisational Behavior, Relationship Building, Management Statistics and French.
Which meant we couldn’t escape interacting with her at least twice a day, much of which was spent playing those insipid profile games, that were supposed to discover and bring forth the hidden sub-conscious you to your and your class’ conscious fore. I never understood, how my invisible personality bits would be of any interest to anyone or for that matter my pathetic personal scores on the 16PF. The show went on for some time though, amidst an increasing but withheld discomfort, until Ika made an issue of it.
“I refuse a discussion of my personality analysis in the public,” she declared, definitively.
“But they are your class, dear,” started ‘Mona Darling’, as we had all by now,renamed her after classic Bollywood villain, Ajit’s famous moll from the iconic 1970’s crime thriller, Zanjeer.
“These insights will help your friends know you better. They are confidence and faith building measures, leading to the making of a balanced dream team,” she reasoned.
“Sounds like the preamble of a marriage bureau! I refuse to part my privacy with strangers. I can’t. The very thought of it is so disconcerting and terrorizing,”Ika countered aloud.
“That’s the whole purpose of the exercise, to turn rank strangers into understanding buddies, my child.”
“I am not bit by any ‘desperately seeking friends’ malady, ma’am. I am mature enough to find out my types, these personality scales can’t tell me any better.”
One good thing about being a student at the PG level is that the faculty can never bully you into submission. At the most, they can revert back with a restrained firmness, or a conscious avoidance. “Meet me after the class,” mooed Mona, before strangulating her next victim. She derived a kind of cathartic pleasure shredding hitherto hidden frailties in the public, trying to emerge as that proverbial agony aunt, with a spicy cure for all.
Of others, the reactions ranged from interested sniggers to a defensive disdain as evinced by Ika, though Manish had definitely fallen for her bait. To say he was smitten by her incisive peeks into the personality beyond, would be more than apt, after all he had just finished his fourth consecutive ‘coming out’ session with ma’am Mona in a week. But he definitely emerged a more in command person, charged enough to even approach one of the most difficult girls in the class for a relationship. He proposed Tammy to be his sister, on the eve of the Rakhi festival, which she readily obliged, out of a keenness for the accompanying gift. For brothers, she already had three, though Manish had only one sibling, in the name of a biological sister. The tie-up too had happened, pretty off-the-cuff, and not the consequence of any high-brow dramatics.
“You know Tamanna, my sister also shares the same name,” Manish had casually informed, joining us for tea at his dad’s Madhuban. The always proper-to-foil lad perfect; consistently remained insistent, on being the only one to call ‘our’ Tammy, still by her actual, registered, parents’ given nomenclature.
“Nothing weird, for that’s quite a common name, in this part of the globe,” Tammy replied, and not turnoffishly.
“But often belonging to uncommon people, rather special persons like you.”
Tammy, gave a thoughtful ‘Am I?’ look, before…suggesting, “Well since she is not around, I will tie the rakhi she’s sent for you.” Compliments always made her dole out crazy commitments. A sentimental Manish, immediately obliged, for the offer perhaps was a windfall enabling him to reach two targets with one shot.
Courtesy the rakhi concept, Indian men are perhaps the only of their kind in the world, who carry offers of brotherhood too on their sleeve for stranger girls, apart from the mandatory love or friendship options, as any other ‘normal’ man from the rest of the globe would. Always on the lookout of a sister, the reasons though vary from the tame to the inconsistent. Possible options — the lady in question is the sister, neighbour or best friend of a love interest they can’t manage the guts to propose; a close confidante or a buddy who’s a girl but not a girlfriend;with the commonest of all being the girlfriend of your best friend. Safe options, and in Manish’s case perhaps the first one. After all, Tammy’s roommate was Rosemary. The tie-up sealed, I offered taking them both to my house, a few minutes of walk down the road by our institute, for an impromptu house party.
The writer, a two-time judge on Star Writers Program, has authored three published works of fiction and non-fiction.