I’m a genuinely congenial fellow usually. I don’t generally allow myself to whip anyone with a flyswatter on more than two occasions a week (although I admit I did whip one particular lady seventeen times in a one week, as she was irritating me with her determination to be seen by normal people). So you would imagine my surprise when this young gentleman named Ankit snapped at me at a bus stop near the patch of mud where I had planned to bury my late rabbit, Rocky.
I will go so far as to say that I gave him no reason to do this at all. Not only is his left leg much too short for the rest of his body (including his right leg), he is also irrevocably polite and well-mannered. Yet, the most I’ve swatted at him is once a month. Well, technically speaking I hit him 12 times in rapid succession, but then again, I wasn’t counting on doing it again for at least eleven months.
We often met at the poultry farm, where he would be feeding the hens that I would later be eating. I always looked upon the scene with an amiable bearing; it was, metaphorically speaking, a very Bollywood-like act. Like something out of a Shah Rukh Khan movie. Add to that the niggling awareness that he was indirectly feeding me, and I was quite smitten. I merely snubbed his nose with a toothbrush on those occasions. No swatting or hitting whatsoever (I may have forgotten my flyswatter at home that day, but I can’t remember). I even always greeted him with a cordial “Ankit, you moron, what the hell are you doing here?” Yet, he never responded. Alas, good manners died with Rocky.
On many occasions, this same chain of events occurred. I saw him, felt irritable, he fed the chickens while I watched, which made me slightly less annoyed, and I snubbed his nose, or grabbed his balls, or merely spat at him, with a jovial “Ankit, you sick little piece of Anjappar Sambhar, stop following me.” Again, you will notice my remarkable sense of self-restraint: I had many tools at my disposal at these meetings, yet I employed none except my hands.
So it came to pass, that many months later when Ankit passed by again, I was about to pull his left ear and tell him I despised his disproportionality, when he stopped in his tracks, wept a little and said through his sobs – “ I won’t have this anymore, please stop it.”
I was amazed at the guy’s guts. Has he no shame? No sense of social conduct? I’ve been polite, nice, constantly cheery around him, and he gives me this? How rude!
“Ankit, what is wrong with you? Why have you been behaving like this?”
“No No No! Stop it, please, why won’t you stop?”
“What did I do, Ankit, I have never swatted you, never!”
“I know! That’s not what I am saying!”
“I’m flattered that you think that I think about what you are saying, Ankit.”
At that precise, moment, Ankit did something quite remarkable. Those few words that he spoke to me have altered my perception of him forever. I would never talk to him the same way again, never look upon his sorry ass in the same way again. He looked up slowly, locked his eyes with mine and said, “My name is Rahul, dude.”
Things are different now. I look at Rahul feeding the chickens, looking idiotic, and all I can do anymore is go up to him, grab his tongue with a pair of felt-tip pens, and say –
”I’m sorry I’ve been calling you Ankit, Rahul, but that doesn’t mean you are going to infect my field of vision.”