Friday, June 18, 2010

Kullu uncle is the best. He has always been my favourite uncle but that day, everyone agreed that he’s the best (even Faisal’s papa, who otherwise always criticized him, said ‘indeed, he is a great qrook!’), when he came home in his, and the whole town’s first Lamborghini Gallardo. Faisal’s elder brother Faraz had sent a message that the car was coming at the Gandhi crossing, so we (I, Faisal and four of our friends) took the shortcut through the fields (which was full of ditches and goat-shit) and got there enervated. But what to say of the people in my town; they are total bumpkins; an outsider would think they haven’t seen a car! There were all huddled up around the car so we could only manage a glimpse of that fierce yellow ‘animal’ but even that revitalized us. It looked marvelous and fresh; and we ran a long distance, from Bhiringi more to Ram Dhani’s tea stall, after that tan and shiny and sleek thing,. Then it outran us.
Later I heard Daljeet uncle saying outside Kullu uncle’s home, ‘She’s so sexy Kullu yaar’ when I and Faisal were sneaking a look through the holes in the gate as it was getting parked into the garage. She? Indeed this sardar is a stupid, I thought. Only yesterday Manju ma’am told us, ‘Listen boys, if you again use IT for persons, I will give you zero in the whole paper. It’s for non-living things.’ Before we realized, the guard charged us with his lathi and uttered his typical gali ‘suyar ke bacchon’. We were off with laughter before Faisal imitated him and said, ‘Bhag…teri ma ka’.
Kuldeep Santo Singh or Kullu uncle is always the best. He owns an AC (air-conditioner) in every room (papa said he had more rooms than all the homes in our slum) of his house which is named ‘Guru Ashram’. And if you are like Faisal who has never seen an AC room, I can tell you how is it like. It’s nothing but a big white box that holds on tightly and quietly to the wall, and opens and closes its mouth continuously. ‘It’s like a daemon’, that’s what my science teacher, Rajju sir said. ‘It breathes in the hot air, cools it and then breathes out the cool air.’ Papa said that uncle has AC in bathroom also but mom said that it’s not possible coz then one will catch cold and then papa scolded ma that she did not know Kullu uncle as well as he did. True. Mom and I are mostly asleep when Kullu uncle comes to our house.  Yes, that’s right, the richest (and fattest) uncle in the whole of our town comes down to see us atleast once every week and he never ever forgets to bring my favourite, big bar of Cadbury. I don’t know why mummy does not like it (twice she gave it to neighbor’s children). I share it only with Faisal and we try to save it (by eating little-little) till a week (although it gets very sticky). But still, I confess that it is less tasty than the Éclairs I had won from Faisal in that challenge; actually he did not believe a few days back that Kullu uncle, the richest (and fattest) uncle in the whole of our town came to our small home. He was mainly influenced by what everyone said about Kullu uncle; that he is selfish, arrogant and a murderer (and partly coz he thought he won’t fit in our door). Anyway, you should have seen his face then, as if he shit his own pants! And then he had to steal a coin from his Abba’s kurta to get me two éclairs.
Kullu uncle is the pride of our town. He has a big blue swimming pool behind his house. And unlike our Mahadevi pokhra (pond), you can see the hard cemented bottom without putting your head inside. At night, red bulbs light up from beneath and it looks like a large pool of Rooh-Afza. Faisal must have thought it was blood! He saw it when he worked as a plate- and glass-picker in Kullu uncle’s daughter’s marriage that was held beside the swimming pool. His father worked on the Pav-bhaji stall, but my family of course, was invited with honour and we were given AC room also. And only coz of me, did he get to eat three plates of Chicken Kabab, his favourite. What a marriage that was! But actually, I don’t want to recall it coz it makes me so sad. Without that day, I would still have been free in the world, eating panipuris with Faisal instead of this shit-like lunch they give me in this ‘Juvenile Prison’. You must be thinking what wrong did I do? Well, that’s a difficult question to answer coz I felt so right when I, with all my strength, dug the knife (which was on the salad table) into the left side of Kullu uncle’s chest (‘left part of your chest is the heart, the most important organ’, Rajju sir taught us). Blood oozed out like tomato sauce and everyone screamed.
Since I have told you now that uncle is dead, I will use ‘had’ instead of ‘has’ (I used ‘is’ and ‘has’ to keep up the suspense… )
Kullu uncle had a large, flat, rectangular (length more, breadth less) TV in every room in his house. Papa said that he had a TV in his bathroom also and this time, mom agreed. We had a small black and white TV but we rarely used it coz there was no electricity. The metal wire through which we ‘drew’ electricity from the overhead line, regularly fell down and then dad had to use a chair and wood (?) to carefully hang it back, and during that period you would have seen my mom’s face. She was scared like a goat and kept on bellowing at him to come down, as if he was going to die!
‘Can’t we buy a TV like Kullu uncle’s, ma?’ I asked her and she said (while running her hand through my hair- it felt good), ‘We will beta. You study hard, learn all Math and Science and one day, you can buy anything you want, even a house like that.’ I never corrected her by saying that Math was not learnt coz I already knew she was illiterate. But I also knew what the real problem was, the same that all slum-dwellers had; we did not have money. But that night when I got up due to sweating (the wire had fell down again) and went to toilet, I was proved wrong. As I was barefoot I felt something rough under my foot and jumped with fear (I thought it was a Scorpio). It wasn’t, so I picked that thing up and immediately recognized (by smell and touch – there was no light) that it was a 100-rupee note. At first I thought it was God who was conferring his blessings but when I climbed up the slab to check if there were more blessings, I was completely shocked! There was a bucket without the faintest drop of water. ALL MONEY (can you believe it?) I could not either. But then I was sure it was God; someone had rightly said ‘Bhagwan ke ghar mein der hai, andher nahi’, I always believed that we were kind people and that day God had rewarded us, I thanked Him with all my heart.
But today I know that I was wrong coz what followed was the dreariest night of my life. Quickly I went to wake up mom and dad to give them this happy surprise and can you believe it? There was not a hint of smile on either of their faces, and then followed the unexpected. Mom and dad fought incessantly and violently for one and a half hours in which mom got slapped and pulled by the hair several times. She sat on the floor and wept all along but never got tired of shouting at papa. ‘What papers, what papers?’ she kept on yelling like that mad woman who danced on our streets in tattered clothes. ‘What papers do you keep in our house for him?’ ‘You—you are not protecting him, you will get us killed’ ‘I will kill him’ her voice became hoarse due to screaming but she never stopped. Papa pretended to sleep and lay calmly on the bed from which he occasionally got up to beat her. I lay motionless beside him and breathed as feebly as possible so that he may fall asleep. But he didn’t. At 2.45 I think, she got up in a fit of madness and anger and dropped a burning matchstick into the bucket. Papa tried to douse it but despite all efforts (he did not use water) he could not and lastly when the bucket had turned black and smelled like burned milk, he did it. Forcibly, he put kerosene on ma and lighted her saree while she screamed and cried. For the first time in my life, I was scared to death. I ran for water but papa thrashed me so hard that I fell down. Ma too ran to bathroom but papa won’t let her in so ultimately she got out and ran and screamed like a ghost and fell down. I guess people were already outside but by the time, people doused the fire she was all black and burned and smelled bad. Then someone said, ‘Where is the motherfucker?’ And then the people in the slum beat my father like a pig until he stopped screaming. He was all in blood. I cried and begged, ‘Leave papa, leave him’ but no one stopped and then one man said something to Faisal’s father. Then I was yanked and taken away by him.
Kullu uncle’s daughter’s marriage was a day I cannot ever forget in my whole life. I had been waiting for this day for years but the sad death of my parents a day before it, gravely affected everything. The whole afternoon people kept coming to see me and console me and every now and then they would start, ‘Poor boy, how kind was your mother’, ‘once your father helped me out of this debt’, ‘I am like your dad son, don’t cry’ (I wasn’t crying) etc and the women unfailingly, would hug me tightly and start crying. But in the evening when I was asked by Faisal uncle if I wanted to go to the wedding, I was afraid if I had to stay. I did not want to show him that I was too willing but I definitely, could not miss the bestest (I know there is no such word) party of my life. I don’t know from where to start; there was everything in it from Indian dishes like chowmin, chhole,pizza, dosa to foreign ones that had mainly animals like crabs, octopuses etc; all fried alive. Then of course were unlimited cold drinks (they were of more than thirty colors), a hundred different types of pickles, pans…I even forgot their names now. Six stalls from the gate (where two sentinels stood with long spears) was the ‘Pav-bhaji’ stall that was being served by Faisal’s father and obviously Faisal had more plates of Pav-bhaji than in his entire life, in an ‘under the table’ way of course . I obviously had no problems since my family was invited with honour. We, i.e. I and Faisal, roamed around inside the huge banquet hall and checked out almost everything (except the live animals). But when I ate those panipuris, I missed mom a lot coz it was her favourite and I had challenged her to eat twenty that night. At that time, I saw Kullu uncle with a man in black suit and black pant and I waved at him; he smiled. Moments later I saw him coming towards me and I knew he was going to commiserate with me so I was ready. I was not going to cry though (coz I never did) even if he asked me to stay with him. But to my surprise he came, ate the panipuris and chatted happily with that man without even looking at me. I was very depressed when he went without even saying a word coz Faisal was standing right beside me. And then the thing happened which I had feared. Faisal started jeering and laughing at me like an uncontrollable beast. He was not even listening to my explanations (he must not have seen me). I got very upset and wanted to go home ( I even started) but then realized that I had no home and since I did not want to fight him, I went near the swimming pool and sat there, looking into the water. The water was very calm and soothing.
Faisal then brought few of his friends there and they all started making fun of me; those lowly kids who were rag-pickers and waiters in the party! And that dog Mahesh called me an orphan (It felt like a sting) and after we had a messy fight (in which my shirt was torn) I sat there, very depressed and felt lonely. Adamantly I looked into the depths of water, staring at nothing. And then, I don’t know after how long, I saw something unbelievable. I saw her, my mom, in the water; she was screaming loudly as the fire shrouded her body. She tried to extinguish it but even the water did not seem to wet her, it just slid down her body like a lazy dead liquid. ‘I will kill him’ she kept on wailing. While on the other side of the pool, Faisal and his friends teased and howled at me with ear-splitting noise; it all made my head ache like it would burst. I tried, many times, to jump into the pool but every time I did I landed on the hard floor and then the bantering would increase. I was completely helpless and irritated…
When I opened my eyes, Faisal’s friends were gone and the water was as calm as ever. All the people now were huddled around the stage where the married couple was standing with garlands in their hands; Kullu uncle stood smiling beside his daughter. I realized I was shaking badly, sweat all over my body and I did not think, even for a second that it was a dream. Everything was real; mom, her screams, the fire, Faisal, those boys, the noise and now this newborn feeling, a simple and eager wish to kill. I could not have been clearer in my thoughts and will then, to slaughter Kullu uncle; I could not question myself why, but something in my body; I think my heart or perhaps soul, knew. And then, as you know I grabbed the beautiful sleek knife with black handle (whose blade shined like a diamond), put it in my pocket and went, unobstructed into the cheers of people, onto the stage and dug it, as hard as I could, into the left side of his chest, and completed my mom’s unfulfilled wish. It was an amazing feeling, like sinking the shine into cheese!


  1. The most beautiful and touchy story I have read till date...Narration of the story and characters are well defined..It reminds me of 'Kiterunner' a novel by Khaleed Hosseini..
    "I will use had instead of has"...too good..
    Keep writing..and don't worry about the length until you are able to please the readers and justify the story...

  2. and btw, look of the blog is also soothing...howevr u can enlarge the size of the photo at the top...

  3. ahh! again..
    break it in part 1-2 .
    Well written bt typical story "u kill me,me kill u"
    i was expecting more like bollywood potpourri sm thin lik "after 20 years" neverthless keep at it.
    keep writing .

  4. read dis story