Thursday came and went rather peacefully.
The sky didn’t fall on anybody’s head. The clouds didn’t rumble. The earth didn’t crack open.
At the end of land in NCPA, a concert went on successfully as planned. Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan played with gusto, to an auditorium filled with over 1200 people, each of whom God had touched on the forehead. The the rest of the population in Mumbai watched Little Champs on Zee and the peasants watched Kabhi Sauce bhi Bahut ti on the Kidiot box.
At about the same time when the two Ustads were enchanting 1200 nodding heads, back in the ‘burbs, a man was tossing and turning in bed, stuffing a pillow forcefully up his face in order to muffle the sound of his frustrated yells.
Jobi didn’t make it to the concert. For, I failed him.
The good part is that I am still alive. When he learned about my impotence when it came to organizing tickets, he made me a promise that he would kill me. Today, I was informed, was my last day on earth and if there was an afterlife, he would meet me after he dies and strangulate me there too. If there was rebirth, he would still chase me!
So when the bad news sunk in, he stood up from his chair in his cubicle, stretched his muscles, cracked his knuckles and left Lower Peril, walked across from Phoenix Mills all the way to Dadar station with both his arms outstretched preparing for a sordid murder by strangulation.
Eye witness and random reports of friends and acquaintances indicate that he was sitting in the cab fuming, with his arms outstretched and practicing the old strangulation. Later that evening, the cabbie had to scrub the upholstery really hard to take away the overpowering smell of uric acid from the driver’s seat, but that’s beside the point.
He reached my office, and shouted from the ground floor to me four floors up.
“Ai…..aamblaya irunda keela vaada!” which translates roughly into “Ai…If you are a being a Man, down comeda”
The glass behind my chair rattled from his booming voice and I ran down the stairs, three-at-a-time, gulping saliva anxiously at each leap.
Jobi was standing like a yoga trainer with his hand outstretched….and came rushing at me when I stepped off the building.
“Jobi! Jobi!!! Relax …don’t do anything stupid now! Machaan, calm downda”
His nostrils were flaring. His BP must have been irresponsibly high.
Before he could go for my neck, I thrust a ticket in his palm.
Now, it is not everyday that you see a miracle. In fact our city lives have become so routine and mundane and plastic that a miracle occurring in our boring lives is a miracle. The last miracle I remember happened in Lallu Bhai Park five years ago when I spotted a yellow butterfly. If you live in Mumbai, pause now and reflect for a brief moment. When was the last time you saw a butterfly?
That’s my point.
And given such acutely reluctant propensity of a city to throw up miracles on your face, watching Jobi I knew I was witness to a rare event. His face transformed from a menacingly aggressive, nostrils flaring, maniacal, testosterone overdosed man to looking like Sachin Tendulkar when he gave his thank-you speech after his first ‘man-of-the-match’ award, when he was what…16?
Meanwhile Jobi was so overcome with excitement, the simple act of pulling the ticket out of the envelop was becoming a big task.
“Zakir Hussain is performing today” I said, punctuating my words for effect.
“Today!?” said he, looking up at me slowly, his hands shaking.
“Yes, today. And Sivamani.”
Fumble fumble “Sivamani?!” he said gasping, his mouth open.
“Yes. And U. Srinivas”
“No. I am Jobi” He said in excitement, then looked up with a jerk, his eyes twinkling, “Oh!! U Srinivas!!!?” He was hyperventilating. His jaw dropped and if I had a torchlight, I could have seen his Gall Bladder.
“Yes. U Srinivas. And Selvaganesh”
His jaw was dropped further. He was about to foam from his mouth.
“Vikku Vinayakram”, I went on.
His hands were trembling now. His jaw dropped further. He looked up at me speechless.
A piece of stone on the ground poked his chin, breaking his revery. He pulled his chin back all the way up. The ticket finally broke free from the envelop.
“…and Shankar Mahadevan” he was barely audible.
And then I felt a botch of wetness on my right cheek. Jobi was overjoyed. He skipped all the way back to his car and sped off.
I pinched myself. I guess I could live my mundane, boring life a little longer.