Roads are perhaps one of the most fascinating places in the worlds. It would be more appropriate to call most of the Indian roads in towns and cities the most happening places of the world. If you have a penchant for minute details you will notice that the road outside your house, my house, his house, her house is full of happenings good and bad, sad and happy. Roads are a good blend of opposites as not seen anywhere else.
Last evening I started taking a walk in one of the busy Delhi roads. (I purposely take a walk in the busy roads, gullies and corners where people do not try and venture out, unless there is a pressing need for.) I noticed a young man, who must be around 30-32 years of age. He was a well built man and had a voice that I thought commanded respect from people in the neighborhood. He seemed to me to be a man of immense physical prowess. Rippling muscles, shaped biceps, a card board flat tummy gave a feeling that this man had strength that was enough to silence few good men. He seemed busy talking to a group of people who had gathered around the chai-wala. All of this people who on the first sight gave an impression of not being sophisticated and polished, had a chai and a cigarette in their hands. They were discussing something which I thought should also listen to. So a lean and thin man like me, walked to the chai wala and taking the chai in my hand started sipping it slowly with my ears wide open and eyes looking faraway so as to give the impression that I was not listing to them.
The man was narrating a tale of his adventure in the hill districts of Assam and in Nagaland. He told the crowd of listeners that these are the two states where you have great lions roaming all over the place. “Lions are such creatures that fear none”. He said. The others who were so intently listening approved in admiration, “ One of my uncles have also seen a lion” said one of them. He charmed his audience with all sorts of his stories and how he finally helped the Govt officials to trap one of the man-eaters. For this great feat of his bravery the Govt of Assam formed a Ministry for Wild Animals Conservation. The Govt asked him to head this.
“So you were asked to be a minister”
“Yes, a cabinet minister”
I noticed that one of the members in the group winked at his friend. He gave an impression that said, “all-this-is-crap”.
Our brave lion killer, noticed this and got infuriated at this and said,
“I know you don’t believe this, just check the Nov 18 1996 local papers like The Sentinel”
“No, No we believe you”-The others hastily said, urging him to say more about his adventure.
He was consoled a bit and now sipping his tea said,
“Chotu get me another chai, this has got cold completely”
One of the other members said, ‘Chotu, get another cup for Karim bhai”
So that was how found out the name of our brave Karim Bhai-the lion killer.
There after the adventure of Karim moved to national politics.
“The last evening Sonia jee called me”-Karim bhai
“Sonia Gandhi?”-asked one of the members
Yes, bhai Sonia Gandhi. She wants me to head the youth congress”
The others got bemused. “So what will you do”. “I told her I do not have time”.
I noticed that the others encouraged him to talk more and more. Interestingly the more opportunity he was given, the more adventurous, the more talented he grew. He gave an impression that he was the solution to all international, national, regional and even perhaps an answer to natural calamities.
Almost two hours had passed since we all were listening to Karim’s gup-shups. I thanked myself that it being a weekend I did not have to go to work. So what could have been better than listening to some good unreal and imaginative adventure? It was almost like an unreal bollywood movie for which you have to shed all logic. Reason doe not find a place in movie. Here too none of us wanted to reason. We were just listening for time pass and enjoyment.
Presently Karim Bhai started to go. The others requested him to stay back. But he was adamant. He quarreled with others for not allowing him to leave. Suddenly he could have no more of it. His face should his anguish. ‘I have to attend to the call of nature”. He ran. He ran like a man whose house is in fire. From his flight I could make out that indeed he was in a state of utmost urgency.
Thus ended one of the great conversations of Karim the lion killer. Everyone is small when it comes to attending the call of nature. I thought as I walked back home.