Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kiss of Life

I was at that fuel outlet opposite AG's office, he said. Stuck there actually. Some VVIP was expected. There was a rally. People in traditional dress, banners about true culture, true heritage, true values. Third anniversary or something.

His voice was weak and muffled, like Marlon Brando in Godfather after receiving a dozen bullets.

A policeman had told me to stand outside my car, he continued, security protocol what-not. My wife had gone to Spencer's to get something.

It all happened so fast, he remembered.

A drunkard walked towards me, towards the fuel pump, stumbling, swaying. I saw him lighting what remained of a beedi. I looked at the attendants. I too must have had their shocked scared look. That drunkard took a slow puff. He threw the matchstick and stub towards us. The air seemed so thick with the fumes of fuel.

Someone shouted. I jumped. I do not know how. The last time I jumped like that was in primary six, when I caught that ball near the boundary, you remember, he said.

You caught it on the wrong side, I reminded him.

Anyway, there I was, in slow motion, reaching for those two items. Man, I caught it. I landed on the ground hard but I hardly felt that.

The attendants did not have time to clap. There was a loud siren, red beacon, an open vehicle, a man in white waved.

Then, I saw my wife. I do not know what came over me. It must have been the near-death experience. I ran to her. I caught hold of her, kissed her, her leaning back, man, a deep kiss, you know, like that kiss in Life magazine.

Then, it was all a blur. One moment I heard mata ki jai. Next it was kuthey...patti...adikkada...maaro.

Well, here I am, he sighed.

I would not have believed him in any other setting. But, the general ward in General Hospital was convincing, that too with his wife feeding him through a straw.

I looked at his wife. How did you escape, I asked.

She smiled and looked at her husband.

Ah, he exclaimed, she is a quick thinker. She announced that I was abusing her, that I was in no way related to her. That's why the policemen came to the party, he grimaced.

Ah, I nodded.

Otherwise, who would have fed me, he asked.

He thought for a while. Then asked, do you know what really hit me bad?

None of the media outlets will even mention my case. Not even a line. Man, that's why I called you. You have to tell the world. Write about it.

Are you crazy, I asked, I would rather kiss your wife in public.