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
Someone recently asked me – Amongst the exhausting list of superheroes why Batman tops my list?
Now that’s a question with many possible arguments, so let’s look at it objectively. The whole point of worshipping a superhero basically implies someone whom you can relate to. The commonly adored Superheroes apart from Batman are:
- Captain America
and so many others…
P.S. – The order shown is merely a reflection of the way these names appeared in my mind.
Superman – Firstly, the guy is an alien. His father sent him to Earth before the destruction of his home planet Krypton. So essentially in order to be Superman my father should have blasted me off to some distant habitable planet. Since no such event occurred so the idea of being Superman does not resonate with my mind. Also Superman uses geek spectacles to hide his true identity from the public around which sounds surreal to me.
Ironman – Ironman would have been my second choice, provided – he didn’t have an arc reactor on his chest (yes am well aware it is removed in the third part), he didn’t wear a bulky suit made up of all metal, didn’t reveal his identity in public and last but not the least, wasn’t so much erm… what’s the word … Flashy. Oh that reminds me of another superhero.
Flash – In one word, he violates laws of Physics … Okay five words … His only power is super-speed, even greater than the speed of light. Since he is no God, thus travelling at such lightning speed would result in rupturing lungs, stomach, kidney …. Basically he would burst in flames and vanish in matter of nanoseconds.
Hulk – The alter ego of Bruce Banner shows up in the form of giant inhuman green creature as he was once caught up in gamma radiations. Let’s face it, no such thing has happened to me till date and in the event of occurrence of such an event I would die as I don’t have such a huge ego to alter me in some giant black creature (Batman spots Hulk from a distance and asks – Does it come in black).
Thor – He is a Lord and I am not, period. Again he belongs to a different galaxy.
Captain America – The name itself doesn’t appeal even a tiny bit, thus no point in further discussion. Although he was created by injection of experimental serum into his body, but he had no role in preparation of it except that he volunteered for the experiment.
Spiderman – The guy who trashes the whole city with spider webs, really? I don’t see myself doing that ever. There is an old saying – If you can’t stick to the walls you can’t be Spiderman. Hence, swings away any hope to be Spidey.
Shaktiman – Translated in English as Powerman much like Superman, is the most popular Indian Superhero. Although he has two great similarities to Superman, viz., he conceals his identity by wearing geek glasses and he can be controlled or even killed by a special type of stone. He gained all his superpowers by meditation which seems reasonable, but I don’t see myself whirling at insane speed and travelling to far off lands in matter of seconds.
Now, my reasons for worshipping Batman!
The chief notion behind Batman is – rise above your fear and turn it into your strength. Bat here is merely a symbolism; it could be anything to anyone.
Batman doesn’t kill anyone, even in the weakest of the moments, he uses his own strength and of course some high-end technological weapons to fight crime.
He is from planet Earth, one amongst us.
No giant body deformation in anger, no devil stone to control or kill him.
He does not run at speed of light.
Last but definitely not the least; Batman has BATMOBILE and two sidekicks – Catwoman and Robin.