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My new video is out. Check it out 😉
Presenting Part II of The Joker. Click here to read Part I.
November 24, 2004. Time – 06:40pm
After a whole day of attending lectures I was jostling through my wet hair with a towel wrapped around the waist when Ritika called.
“Hey Shona. How are you? Sorry I missed your call in afternoon”
“That’s okay Ritu. You won’t believe what happened to me today” I replied ecstatically.
“What, tell me”
“It was just so weird… I don’t know if you will understand”
“Oh Pratyush vomit it out”
“Ok listen. I went to pee, coz you know, I felt like peeing, but … not a single drop came out”
“Pratyuuuuuushhh I am gonna kill you”
“See I knew you wouldn’t understand. You had to be there … hahahaha … to understand … hahahahaha”
“Ha Ha Ha .. See I laughed, now no more pee poo jokes today”
“But there was no mention of …”
Ritika interrupted me “Shut up or the Saturday date is off”.
After a five-second-inspection Ritika continued “That’s like my shona”.
Another five seconds gone “Ohoo pratyush baba now you can speak. You have successfully secured the Saturday date”.
“Huff… Do you have any idea how hard it was to shut up?”
“I know… Okay tell me something. Why do you keep saying such lame things?”
“Because you laugh”
“No I rarely laugh on your silly puns”
“Yes you do” I stressed.
“No I don’t. When have you heard me laughing on your lame tales?”
“I haven’t but your little sister has. You almost always share my jokes with her at night and laugh like crazy”
“OH MY GOD. I can’t believe Simi sold our secret”
“Hu hu ha ha ha ha”
“How long have you known this?”
“… Umm … That I won’t tell” I replied mischievously.
“Hey mister you have to tell, otherwise …”
I interrupted “Otherwise what … you can’t cancel the Saturday date now. What else you got … You got nothing sweetie to blackmail me with”.
“Uuhhh …Somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad tonight” replied Ritika in Russel Peter’s accent.
“What you gonna do now?”
“I will have snacks and will start studying. Only twelve days before the first semester begins Ritu”
“Good boy. Mr. Rank holder has an image to maintain”
“Yep. What about you?”
“I don’t believe what I am about to say”
“What?” I was amused.
“I have to pee, you JOKER”
With the monstrous laugh we cut the call.
The next day Ritika killed herself. In our one year of relationship I never sensed the domestic violence until the story surfaced in a local newspaper. ‘Joker’ was forever tagged with her.
It took me almost a year to get out of the trauma. Only two sounds echoed in my mind – her childish-monstrous-laugh and the way she called me Joker, kind of like ‘mera Jokerrr’, just as they are buzzing in my mind right now.
Soon after the third semester I flew to Assam to visit my dearest cousin Vaibhav who was geared up to launch his dream project, his own e-retail store.
We had been underwear-brothers since the start of time, literally. He knew every bit of me better than me. One evening while sipping cold beer in an abandoned farm house, Vaibhav’s wisdomous / drunken speech, mimicking Batman changed my life.
“Pratyush, you see, this city had lost all its innocence long back. It has seen enough, suffered irreplaceable losses, yet it never shies away in mesmerizing people with its scenic beauty.
Shouldn’t we all learn something from the city?
I know you are hurt brother. Ritika was a keeper, one pure soul.
She never hinted any sorrow, despite everything that she had to face Every Single Day. All she ever radiated was happiness and laughter and love and joy and … all that is positive … in spite of the constant internal struggle.
You should carry on that sane Jokerpanti and spread more smiles around dude. I believe it would be a better way to remember her than staying grungy. This world needs laughter bro and you can be the source.
You can be the Joker of people’s lives without … you know … actually having to wear the red blob nose”
By the time I returned to Kolkata, my cocoon had evaporated releasing the bat wings once again. I was again the knight in shining armour (read teeth) for the depressed souls.
Vaibhav had become my mentor but his term didn’t last long.
On April 25, 2006 a rash driver ran over Vaibhav, silently pushing me back into shell.
………………..To Be Continued
Heya Pals, I am here with my short story which I shall be publishing in 3 parts. Presenting Part I of The Joker. P.S. - Do share it with your friends in case you find it interesting and of course do comment.
I was tucking my ocean-blue shirt in the freshly pressed black cotton pants for the third time when Taneja’s signature bike vroom signaled me to hurry down.
“Bye Mummy, going college” I shouted while hurrying out of the house unintentionally banging the door behind.
“Dude you finally shaved”
“Gotta look decent in the interview Taneja”
Minutes later we entered college with the security guard giving his signature salaam accompanied by a radiant smile. I gestured back bowing my head.
Rupam almost jumped down the stairs from the first floor before hopping towards me for a hug.
“Hey Pratyush, good to have you back man”
“Thanks dada. All set for today?”
“Absolutely dude. By the end of the day company will be in my pocket”
“Great buddy! I don’t have such high aspirations. Just a job would be okay for me. Hey since you will own the company, may be you can hire me if I run out of luck today”
Taneja hit us both in the back of head “Stop talking bitches and study”.
“Hey Taneja isn’t that the girl you were staring the other day?” My neck moved in the direction of Rupam’s vision.
Rupam continued “I think she was periodically looking at you”.
After passing a faint smile to the classified-junior, Taneja hit Rupam’s back “What the fuck is wrong with you dude? It’s placement day idiot, Studyyyyyyy”.
Without glancing anywhere else we were glued to our screens.
Within 10 minutes Rupam spoke “Remember the day when…” He stopped abruptly after glancing at Taneja’s I-Will-Kill-You expression but managed some strength for saying “Pratyush has come after such a long time yaar… I am excited”.
“Perform all your homo-phillic rituals after the interview” replied Taneja sternly.
Rupam would not dare cross Taneja’s words and thus flipped through the pdf file.
In an hour the race against time started with the first round of MCQ questions.
“Could the paper be more ruthless?” exclaimed Taneja.
“What kind of an ass sets such a tough paper? I gotta smoke dude” notified Rupam.
After two hours of waiting, the result was announced for ‘who were spending the night in the college premises’.
Three juries were sitting comfortably on reclining wheel chairs.
I greeted them with “Good morning”.
“Is it still morning” exclaimed one looking at his watch.
“No sir, it’s almost evening now but my father taught me to greet good morning whenever I meet someone for the first time. It has become a habit now irrespective of the position of the sun with respect to us”
The trio exchanged glances while the youngest one said “Please be seated and introduce yourself” with a warm smile.
“Hello I am Pratyush Khurana, born and brought up here in Salt Lake with aspirations to live all across the globe. My project is on development of Android based social messaging application. We are a team of six people and I am designing the weird smileys”
“Great. Pratyush you have managed to keep an excellent track record since the first year. Exact six pointers all the way, except in the last semester. I am curious to know how you managed this”
“Sir it’s a sacred form of art. Staying still on a hypotenuse isn’t a kid’s game”
“Well, then why did you get a seven point three in the last semester?”
I replied, “Clearly I was tired and my monkey instinct took over, thus the leap” shrugging my shoulder.
I did see a hint of smile on all three interviewers.
Half way through the interview the youngest one exclaimed
“Pratyush you seem to have a decent track record till you entered college. Eighty nine percentile in boards and two zero one rank in JEE.
A joker is not capable of getting ninety percent scholarship. What happened?”
The 1000 beats-per-minute thumping heart was stuck in my parched throat. I looked dumbstruck at the interviewer.
Interviewer continued “I will give you one option. We have ten more students to interview after which we will call you again. You will have One Minute to express why you are suitable for our company. Get out”.
I walked out with my eyes still fixated on the ground and ran six floors above, straight to the roof. The city looked color coded on a black canvas. The calm environment kept the ‘Joker’ buzzer ringing. The last time anyone called me Joker was three years ago.
—————To Be Continued