A day after I flipped April’s golden brown desert sand over to display to my drawing room the wide expansive green fields of May, he breezed in again.
You’ve met Jobi before. Once when he had summond me to Bandra’s JustAround the Corner at 1.00 am, and then again when I narrowly escaped to get a second chance at life the time I met to give him tickets to the ‘Shakti-like’ concert that held in Mumbai some months back.
He has been in and out of my life most of the time, but for a recent while, he’s been mostly out.
“Happy Birthday ol’ chap!” he said.
As you see, Jobi has a perceptible British influence in his language, particularly when he is wishing someone a happy, hearty birthday. He thinks it is the influence of his stint in England. But I think it is because he is a Wodehouse junkie. Jobi never forgets or lets others forget his 8 day visit to to London 4 years ago, so don’t let him fool you into thinking his roots are in England.
But I can vouch for him – he did not mean anything crafty when he said ‘Happy Birthday ol’ chap’. He certainly is not the common type that comes to your birthday, waits for you to blow the 4 candles (it’s just a custom – 4 candles are fine!), then cough loudly to get everybodys attention before asking at 150 dB, “So, how old are you today?”
It is a universal problem really. A global, world-wide, trans-cultural, trans-ethnic, trans-religious, trans-sexual, trans-portal, trans-parent and trans-late. There’s always ONE person in any birthday party who brings up the crummy numbers.
But that’s not Jobi. The last year he had said, ‘Wish you many more happy returns of the day’, and two friends giggled when they heard that extra stress on the word ‘many more’. I just dismissed it telling myself that the two were tying to read more into Jobi’s line.
And when we were in Pondicherry 11 years ago (Yes. Now you know I must be at least over 11) – he had given me a card that said – “its not the years in your life, but the life in your years”. But umm, no I don’t really think he was referring to my age.
The music came on even as I was connecting the dots from the past – I was becoming aware of a new truth. Something that has been out there all the time, yet something I had refused to see. Refused to accept. Or believe.
Has Jobi actually been giving me those jibes all these years deliberately?
The music was getting louder.
“Oh! Adipoli!” said Jobi, warming up to the music. “Your zamana songs!”
Was that another jibe? Maybe not. I was probably reading too much into these.
Oh well, let me cut the C-major Rap and stop beating around this man. Lets just get over it quickly. I just had to make a point and be certain about the undertones, just for the record.
“I am not an old chap”, I said annoyed.
“Huh?” Jobi had the same look he had in the final year Engineering exam when he saw the Engg. Design – III question paper. And he said the same thing he had said back then – “Where did that come from? What is this about?”
But Jobi was too lost swaying to the music to wait for an answer. I just let it go. But he absentmindedly continued,
“But of course da! That is what you’d said last year. And the year before. And I don’t disagree. So anyway, what’s up and what’s new this time!” asked Jobi.
“Nothing spectacular!” said I.
I was already wondering if something should be new. The tone in which Jobi had asked made me think I might have taken, perhaps a tad too lightly, this incredibly glorious get-older-overnight-by-a-year day.
“Nothings new!” I mused. An alert observer would have noticed terse defence in my tone.
“Great!”, he replied. “Lets kill the cake then!”
I wanted to make the day as memorable to Jobi as he had wanted it for me.
I had evil plans.
A minute after the cake was cut, I had timed a mix of Mallu and Bong songs to play. This was partly to kill the opportunity for stale ‘age’ jokes and the other ‘partly’, to make Jobi feel as warm and loved as he was making me feel.
And then all of a sudden, this one played.
Jobi’s ears perked up just the same moment the cake was submitting to his teeth. The cake got a moments reprieve while Jobi tried to process the complex aural signals accosting his brain.
He turned this shade of pingue. All his past gnawlage and gelf experiences came to the fore.
“Ayyoda!!!” he yelped. The fat black mallu moustache under his nose twitched threateningly and a smile was beginning to form under the aegis of that dense growth.
He jumped about. Giggled. Laughed loudly. He was generally going crazy.
“Beef curry Hahaha!” And he rewound and played several parts over and over again. “pay attention to the subtleties – it’s scooatch..A for Yeappell..hehehe…Bata chappals! Perfect brand stereotyping!”
Jobi was echoing along in chaste mallu accent – not at all getting agitated!
My half mallu half bong friend was showing how much more fun it is to laugh at oneself.
I put the Beef Fry back on the table. I guess I wont throw it down his head this time. I’ll wait for the next year – if he makes another comment, I can then be sure he has been crafty all the time. One needs to be sure before you take stands in life.
PS: Liked the parody? listen to one more on this click.