Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Numaa-Ish Excerpt 1: Chapters 1-3

Chapter 1You know, Parth can be quite a pest. I mean, my inbox was literally flooded with texts from him, begging me to tell him my twisted love story with my Muslim wife Numaa. He was intrigued by the marriage between a Hindu and a Muslim, and he probably was low on XXX or something. Whatever the case, he had asked me probably a million times about it (once even when Numaa was making iced tea for the two of us and our unwelcome visitor). It had even come to literally throwing him out of the house. But he didn’t give up. Finally, one day I met him at The Hideout Club and Restaurant, and imagine my surprise when he broke down crying! He needed something to write about, partially because he wanted some hard cash and recognition as an author, and partially because he wanted to reconcile with his ex or something. Whatever the case, after probably a million tears, three pouty looks, and four forcefully offered vodkas straight, I told him my story, while he made notes in what looked like some sort of diary. So here’s my story, warped way out of proportion and written for your entertainment by Parthasarathi Singh, and told through the eyes, ears and perspective of yours truly – Ishan Mukherjee. Let’s start where all love stories first start – when I first met her. I was born in Bangalore, and much of my early childhood years were spent there. When I was six years old, my father jumped ship and came to Roorkee, the place that was to be my place of residence for almost a decade. It was 2001 when I came to Roorkee, and I must admit that even in my childhood years, I noticed that it was significantly different from Bangalore. My father soon became a professor in IIT, while my mother continued the profession that she and Dad had started in Bangalore – selling mobiles. As a result of my high-class upbringing in IIT Roorkee and Bangalore, and my mother’s adeptness as a businesswoman, I had never had a lack of anything. I was the spoiled brat of IITR, not even acknowledging my own empire of wealth. Not long after we moved to IITR, I was enrolled in Roorkee’s most prestigious institution, erstwhile St. Gabriel’s Academy, now known as ‘Army Public School No. 2’. I still remember the day I was scribbling my pencil like an idiot at the back of my copy, in the third grade, when she walked in. “Numaa Rahman, new student”, the teacher, Supriya ma’am announced. I looked at her once. And again. Yep, she was definitely one of those girls who had a billionaire father or something. Her long, braided hair flowed upto her chest, with one curl dominant over the others. She had a cute face, I guess, but then who wasn’t cute in the third grade? “Please have a seat here, in the middle row”, Supriya ma’am said, gesturing somewhere in the middle row, the beam audible and apparent in her perfect voice. I heard a low rumble, and looked up. Huh? I thought. For some reason, Supriya ma’am had seated Miss Perfect next to me, the most brilliant and yet most talkative student of the class. “Hi”, I said in a low voice, trying to be polite. “Hello”, she replied, eyeing me critically. “I’m Numaa Rahman. And you are?” She stretched out her free left hand as her right hand moved to her head to shove a curl off her face. “I’m Ishan Mukherjee. Pleasure to meet you”, I said, shaking her hand warmly. She gave me a WTF-are-you-doing? look, and I wondered what I’d done wrong. She pulled back her hand hesitantly. Maybe she’d expected me to kiss it. Who knows? “So, how’re you liking the school?” I asked to make conversation. “The school in Hyderabad was way better than this, but it’s good, I guess”, she replied. Then however, our conversation was interrupted, as Supriya ma’am wrote a three-digit multiplication question on the blackboard. Numaa looked visibly baffled (as were most of the students of the class). I however, had already done three-digit multiplications before. “How am I supposed to do this?” she asked me, even as Supriya ma’am asked the class to maintain silence. I sighed. This was gonna be a long day. “Let me show you”, I told her. I wrote down the question at the third-last page of my copy, and in a hurried scrawl, solved it. “Hmm…”, she wondered out loud. “So you carry two over there, and then you make two crosses here to mark two zeroes. Doesn’t look so hard.” She then closed my copy, and solved the question on her own. The answer was, of course 19470, which she got. “The first student to solve this question on the blackboard will get a chocolate”, the teacher offered. As I sat there, gawking at Numaa’s copy like an idiot, I saw her raising her hand in my peripheral vision. “Yes, Numaa”, Supriya ma’am called out. Baffled, I looked up to see Numaa prancing towards the blackboard. She solved the question in big, bold numerals for the whole class to see, and I just sat there. I tried to ignore ‘Miss Perfect’ after that. When it was the recess, she caught up with me, as I moved through the pavement to the junior section park, fuming visibly in the cloudy weather, clutching my tiffin like an eagle. “Hey, are you alright?” she said, coming up from behind me, startling me. “No, I’m not. I solved that question first, not you. It’s just not fair that you get the chocolate”, I complained. “Hey, come on, I couldn’t have solved it without you! And besides, I haven’t even opened the chocolate yet. Let’s share”, she offered. I looked at her face, for any signs of smugness, but all I saw was the innocence that had been on my face not five minutes ago. “All right”, I said reluctantly. “But first let me eat my tiffin.” I opened it to find an unwelcome smell. “Ugh! Emergency dosa with white chutney! I hate!” was my reaction. But she eyed my food with a wide-eyed look. “Dosa? Wow!” she exclaimed. And she opened her own tiffin and looked up with a frown on her face. “What did you bring?” I asked, curiously. “Fish pakoda”, she sighed. “Yum! I love fish!” I said, delightfully. “I don’t”, she said. “I don’t like fish at all. I only like chicken, mutton and a little bit of octopus.” “At least it’s better than this stuff”, I said, pointing to my tiffin, trying to cheer her up. “Let’s exchange”, she offered. “Yes!” I said, mentally pumping my fist. Suddenly, it started to rain, which was not uncalled for, since the weather had been cloudy since the morning. “Oh God! It’s raining. My perfect hairstyle will be destroyed!” she moaned. I don’t know what made me do it, but I closed my tiffin, and clutched her outstretched hand, running towards the outside of the classroom, where my umbrella was kept. Most of the other kids were still playing outside. “You know, I don’t mind the rain, but when I’ve done my hair, it’s really not so good”, she admitted. I offered my umbrella, but she placed it simultaneously on both of our heads, and we marched to the stairs of the stage, and sat down to enjoy each other’s meal. That was really the first time I opened up to her, and it was really a special moment in my life, although I didn’t know it at the time. Eating half of a Cadbury Dairy Milk with Numaa was really the beginning of our friendship. After that, well, we pretty much became besties, helping each other with our respective homeworks, playing together in the park, and exchanging tiffins. In time, our parents met each other, and it actually turned out that my Dad and Numaa’s Dad used to be classmates in high school, so we got along pretty well. Both of our families had the broad, open-minded outlook, that most of Roorkee’s small town citizens seemed to lack (no offence to anyone intended). Life was perfect with my new best friend.


Chapter 2

It was the tenth grade. Sitting in my seat, two rows across from Numaa, listening to the incessant rambling of the math teacher Charlie, I stared out the window, waiting for the math period to end, when the bastard came up to me. “Stand up, ye scurvy!” he barked. “What in the name of Jesus’s apostles are yeh doing staring out the window? Not interested in studies? Wastin’ yer time all day, staring at girls, studyin’ physics and English in me period. Go and stand in the corridor scalliwag! Today’s kids…” And then he concluded by moving to the blackboard and writing down the solution to some hitherto unknown question. I shrugged, and went to stand in the corridor. Mercifully, the bell rang ten seconds later. Charlie stormed out of the class, pausing only to threaten me with a “Next time yeh do this type of nonsensical business in me class, I’m gonna call yer parents!” I, of course, just said “Sorry sir”, and went back into the class. When Charlie was out of earshot, however, I muttered “Son of a gun” under my breath. “Geez, this is the third time Charlie made you stand in the corridor. You’d think students just don’t get marks in Charlie’s formatives!” (our generation was the first to witness the CCE pattern proposed by the very respectable Kapil Sibal) said my ‘best friend’ who was now a 5 feet 11 inch tall beauty. Maybe it was because I had seen her growing up, or maybe because I just wasn’t interested, I didn’t think of Numaa in a lecherous manner. I had been Friendzoned Level 98 accordingly (they said it’s Level 99 when she changes her clothes in front of you, but doesn’t date you). “Huh, I guess I really need to catch up to that old codger!” I ejaculated. “You can do it, Ish. I know you’ll ace these formatives”, she said, winking at me. Again, at the back of my mind, I noticed how beautiful she looked with her round face, large eyes, and braided hair. We sat through Garima’s chemistry period and Mrs K’s physics period, periodically glancing up at each other. In the recess, she confronted me. “So, you know, the formatives are about to end, and then it will be the summatives in March, three months later. Have you thought about which stream you want to take in the 11th grade?” she asked. “Huh?” I said, dazed at this sudden question. But then, recovering, I replied, “I wanna be a surgeon. You know, the type that removes tumours and performs CPR on patients? Dr Derek Stiles and Black Jack type?” I looked up at her, expecting her to take my words jokingly. There was a hint of a smile on her perfect face, but she just nodded. “So I figured, why not get a degree from MIT, Stanford or some Ivy League college? Yeah, I know it’s kinda farfetched, but you’ve gotta set your goals high, right?” I looked up again, to see how she’d react. She just nodded again. “So I’m taking Bio-Math. What about you?” “Me?” she asked, surprised. “I’m going for Bio-Math too. It’s genetic engineering for me.” I don’t know why, but I wanted to say, “You have the potential to be a freakin’ supermodel!” but didn’t. She seemed to catch my drift, because she laughed out loud, and said, “I know, I know, I’m too hot to be a nerd-type, right?” I then realized that I was staring at her. “You know, there might well be a time when we’ll laugh at all these moments – Charlie’s rambling, Raj’s stupidity and Sid’s epic fails at flirting”, I said, trying to change the topic. “Ha, like people aren’t making fun of Charlie’s rambling right now!” she roared, laughing, obviously agreeing with me. “So, you gonna open your tiffin or not?” she asked, gesturing towards my Tupperware tiffin. “Not here”, I told her in a low voice. But before I could utter another word, however, Anoop, a grotesque boy with a round head and medium height leapt and grabbed my tiffin. “I’ll take that!” he boomed loudly. I made a deprecating noise. “I’ll go and get it”, promised Numaa. I eyed her with some doubt. She went upto Anoop, batting her eyelashes. “Hey Anoooop?” she said in a flirtatious voice. “Yeah?” he asked, apparently flattered, confused and dazed at the same time. The audible groan that came out of Anoop’s mouth as Numaa’s knee hit his groin is probably one of the most memorable things to have happened with me in the 10th grade. The tiffin fell into Numaa’s waiting hands. “Next time bring your own tiffin, faggot!” Numaa spat at him. And with that, she bounded back to me. “Here you go”, she said with a smile. “Boy, that was fun”, I commented. “But you didn’t need to hit him so hard. You almost castrated him. And ‘faggot’? Wow, I never knew you were so badass.” Ignoring the ribbing, she said, “Hey, don’t forget, your tiffin is mine as well!” laughing. “Now let’s see what you’ve got.” “First, you open your tiffin”, I teased. “Alright Mr Hungry Hippo. Here goes nothing”, she taunted. Her face was creased in – distress? – as she opened her tiffin. “What is it?” I asked. “Seek kebabs. My mom doesn’t make them as well as the dhaba guy.” “Wow! Yum! I love kebabs!” I ejaculated, salivating already. “Whoa whoa whoa, not so fast! Now you open your tiffin!” I opened the Tupperware tiffin to find a delicious but foreboding smell. “Chhole Bhature!” I exclaimed, handing over the tiffin to Numaa. “My taste buds are about to be ravaged by the extreme spices Mom puts in! Here, you can have it.” “But I thought you loved Chhole Bhature!” said Numaa, incredulously. “Not the one my mother makes. The chhole are a tad too spicy for me. Here, give me those kebabs.” – Numaa handed me her tiffin – “Blimey Numaa, I’m a Bong. You’d think I’d actually bring some Bengali food in my tiffin.” “Actually,” she said, a smile playing across the edges of her lips. “you did once. The day after the day we met.” The mental ‘FUUUUUUUU’ rage face in my head was almost audible.

Chapter 3
So, the next day was Charlie’s math formative. An air of foreboding seemed to envelope the entire class. People’s pens were frantically scratching over their copies to finish their pending work. ‘Copy de BC (Give me the goddamn copy, nigga!)!’ and ‘Y u no give me the glue?’ could be heard as clear as day. Charlie was usually an inscrutable bastard, but his recursive algorithm during formatives was very clear – if the student has completed all of his/her work, smile (or smirk) and award him/her some marks accordingly, and if the work is not complete, let the whole goddamn world know by sharply rebuking that student. Nobody had the guts to stand up to Charlie. So you can easily imagine the trepidation that gripped me. Charlie was known for his temper, and I was known for generally unattractive diagrams in the Mathematics Activity notebook. Numaa, however, seemed to be positively shaking with fear. Her entire body was trembling, and her countenance was that of one who has seen a ghost. I looked at her, gesticulating to ask her what the hell was wrong with her. She just shook her head and put on one of her brave poker faces. Just then, that almost bald son of Belial, Charlie, entered with a stoic look on his face, and, understandably, the tension in the room mounted considerably. About only half of the class stood up and said “Good morning Sir!” in unison. “Good mornin’ students. Sit down. Alrighty then, let’s start the formative”, he said with a momentary supercilious glance at those who hadn’t stood up to greet him. I took one look at my Activity Notebook, and I sort of knew I was a goner. I had all of my copies at the ready when my name was called out. “Next, Ishan Mukherjee”. I looked up, walking out very slowly, nudging my neighbour, Kawaljeet, to make way for me. As I walked towards his desk, I felt oblivious to my fate, and I had a spring in my step. “Right here, sir”, I said. I handed him my copies one by one. He paused while perusing my homework copy. “I must say, I’m mighty impressed, kid. Yeh’ve outdone yerself. Didn’t expect yeh to complete all of yer work on time, and that too all correct.” I was absolutely sure that he wouldn’t say the same thing after looking through my Mathematics Activity notebook. I was right. “As usual, mighty dirty work in this copy. Go back tuh yer seat. Next, Johnny Fernandez.” After Javed Bashir, Junaid Shekhawat, Kawaljeet and Malvika Chattopadhyay, it was Numaa’s turn to go. “Next, Numaa Rahman.” “Y-yes sir”, said Numaa, fumbling with her copies. I noticed that she didn’t have her Mathematics Activity notebook with her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed. “Where’s yer Activity notebook?” barked Charlie. “S-sir, I-I forgot it at home, b-but my work is c-c-complete...” “Shut up! No Mathematics Activity notebook, no passing grade. Now go back tuh yer seat. Kids these days...” And I fancy I heard him saying, “Bloody skank” or something apparently filthier. Numaa walked back slowly to her seat behind me, looking visibly crestfallen. By some strange miracle, just then the bell rang for recess. As most of the population of the class rushed out into the fresh air (even Anoop was too mortified to swoop down on my tiffin), Numaa came and sat next to me, and broke into tears. “I-Ish, I b-blew it! Charlie’s gonna fail me. He’s probably already put a red ‘F’ next to my name.” And after that point, her sobbing rendered her words incoherent. “Hey, don’t cry. Remember, if you have your copy with you and show it to him in the period just after the recess, not even Cyriac (our principal) can fail you.” “B-but that is the p-problem, Ish! I don’t have my copy with me right now. If he doesn’t get my copy, he will fail me! God save me!” I rolled my eyes (for I’m an atheist), and then put a reassuring hand on Numaa’s shoulder. “You ever heard about ninja buddies? What if we get that notebook back in time and then fling it in his bemused face?” Numaa stopped sobbing. She was all ears now. “Ninja buddies?” she asked, raising her tear-streaked eyebrow in a playful manner. “Yeah, partner. We go to CBRI, get the copy, and submit it to Charlie. He won’t know what hit him.” “Oh, Ish!” said Numaa, and then hugged me. She wiped her tears on her sleeves, and then the both of us picked up our bags. We ran downstairs like some sort of contract killer running after his quarry. Now, before I proceed any further, let me tell you something about our school. While it was still St. Gabriel’s Academy, our school had a jungle of sorts behind the school stage, and abutting the stage was a winding path that led through the undergrowth of the jungle to a usually locked gate that led out of the school and into CBRI. Of course, students who wished to enter CBRI would have to climb up and jump over it. So, anyway, as Numaa and I approached this gate, Numaa lobbed her school bag over the gate, and then climbed up to cross over to the other side. While she was doing all this, I happened to get more than a passing glance at her undies and her hips. They were really something to look at. But then I remembered that Numaa was my best friend, not my girlfriend, and I pushed all the dirty thoughts out of my mind. “Well, come on then!” she said urgently from the other side. I nodded once and, throwing my bag over to the other side, I jumped over the gate. Panting slightly, Numaa and I smiled at each other. Then I nodded once and said, “We’re ninjas, partner.” Numaa took my hand in her hand, and we walked briskly through CBRI. Finally we reached the rear gate of Numaa’s house. A plaque hanging somewhere indicated her father’s name – Farhan Malik. “You remember where you put it, don’t you?” I whispered. “Yes. It’s on my table.” she said. Entering ever so soundlessly through the rear gate, we reached the window of Numaa’s room. However, we had a debilitating conundrum before us. “Fuck! The windows are closed from inside!” On closer examination, we found that the window wasn’t latched. “If I can just open it, I can reach out and grab it from the table.” So I nudged the window open sufficiently for Numaa’s arm to enter. However, again a problem arose. It was as though it wasn’t Numaa’s day at all. The notebook was kept so far away on the table that Numaa’s hand couldn’t reach it. Fortunately, I had my metallic ruler with me. I groped into the depths of my bag, and pulled it out. “Allow me”, I said. Numaa nodded once and withdrew. I reached out with the ruler to the notebook, attempting to push it towards me. However, the book came even more near to the edge of the table. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Numaa’s dad appeared, and the Notebook took a precipitous path to the immaculate PVC floor. “Hello kids. It’s a little early for school to be out, isn’t it? What’s the matter?” he asked with a smile. Numaa head sank low, and she said, “I forgot my Mathematics Activity notebook at home.” “Well, that is a small problem that can be solved. You could have phoned me from school. So, where is it kept?” “It just fell off of my desk”, replied Numaa, plaintively. “I’ll get it”, said Mr Rahman. And with that he disappeared into the house, and returned not ten seconds later with the notebook. “Thanks Dad!” said Numaa, unzipping her bag and carefully placing the notebook inside. And then, when she took one look at her watch, her eyes went wide with I can’t say what emotion. “Oh shit! The recess is almost over. Come on Ish!” And as she grabbed my hand, we ran out faster than a cheetah on steroids.

Hey guys, so that's all for today. You might notice that some formatting (italics) is missing in some areas. That's partly because, unlike Wattpad, Blogger doesn't provide much room for preserving the original document's formatting, and partly because I've lost the original word document (it's on my HDD, which is no longer working with my lappie). If you happen to be a theist (ugh!) and a Hindu (double ugh!), happy Mahashivratri. Enjoy the holiday.

No comments:

Post a Comment