Okies people, the dude is back. I had gone home for the weekend, and returned back yest via train. Why im sharing this useless bit of information wid you is coz it reminded me of an incident im gonna force you all to read now.
It was the summer of ‘04. Sanjay and I were going back to college, Belgaum, from delhi (Aaah the mention of delhi brings a wide smile to my face) and the train was Goa Express. Me and Sanju loved Goa Express. Pune used to be a stop on the way, and as a rule all good looking north indian girls study in Pune. We often hoped that atleast one of these women would be going to Belgaum, and join our college, but no, not one good looking girl ever came to Belgaum in four years. Anyway back to the topic before all the women out there start calling me a shallow MCP.
So the scene in the compartment was like this. There were me n Sanju on berths 49 and 50, an old gentleman on 51, and three Pune females on 52,53 and 54. We all boarded at Delhi, and the joy that Sanju and I felt on meeting each other, best friends , sworn blood brothers (the oath? will never give up on each other and will always be there for each other till Pamela Anderson do us apart), at the platform was overshadowed as soon as we saw the the trio.
Contrary to the topics we were talking about at the platform (cricket, exam marks, copying in tests, mandira bedi,using colorful language the entire time), now we switched to global warming, rain water precipitation, famine in the third world.. You obviously know why! The fact that only the old gentleman( and i mean OLD; he looked so aged that i wouldnt be surprised if he was from the paleolithic era, probably the inventor of the first wheel) was the only one who showed any sort of interest was disheartening to us, but we took heart in the fact that maybe the trio were very shy and were secretly admiring us.
The journey continued, and the only male happy in that S4 compartment was Mr Ice Age, who insisted on telling me n Sanju stories about his childhood, about Indian independence , Madhubala (hmm hmm ) blah blah. Though we werent all that interested, we both didnt have the heart to ignore him and dutifully nodded our heads at everything and chuckled whenever he did so.
Oh alongwith Pune girls, Goa Express is also famous for eunuchs. Of the most boisterous kinds. They get in at stations in Madhya Pradesh and believe me, would go to any extents in extracting money from passengers. They even start stripping if people start refusing money and turn violent too. During such unpleasant situations, Sanju and i’d always act brave and mature and go hide in the toilet till these tyrants left our compartment.
Well, that day was no different, and soon we could hear the sound of claps and “Haye Haye”s from somewhere outside S4. I looked nervously at Sanju. Usually this glance was enough to get us both moving to the sweet smelling toilets but as it had to happen, this day was different. Sanju’s manly instincts had arisen (note: such things only happened when there were members of the opposite gender within a 3 metre radius) and with a firm look, he said “Not this time” to me. I looked at him incredulously. Fine, there were girls and it was hardly manly to escape but would he prefer being whacked all over on the head by the eunuchs in front of them??? How in heaven’s sake was was that manly? I looked at him again, my eyes betraying the fear in them, but the dude had decided and he wasnt going to budge. “We’ll tackle them” he said to me, his voice becoming deeper by the second. Well, i knew we werent, but who’d reason with this @#@$##$!!! The sound of claps and the rough voices kept increasing. I could even hear “booms” and “thumps” and imagined innocent passengers being thrashed. “Sanju”, i hoarsely mouthed, trying to keep my voice from sounding hysterical. His brows furrowed, he told me “I’ll take care of you”, his voice now sounding fatherly. Man, why why do guys never learn? I sat back with an air of resignation, knowing that now nothing could be done. Out of the corner of my eye, i could see the first of the 8 mammoth eunuchs heading towards our compartment. The old uncle had cleverly slept off on the upper birth (for 6 hours he had bugged us, and now .. hmph!). The girls, funnily , looked unperturbed. (Maybe coz they hadnt travelled in this train before n were not aware of how the eunuchs behaved. Plus, these eunuchs never bothered females that much. It was the men they took out their fury on).
Then it happened. I saw foot number one stepping into our compartment. And before I could see foot number two, i heard Sanjay yell “Run Neeraj” and bolt out of the compartment. The feet , 16 if can count right, were all in, before i could even figure out what Sanju had just done. I closed my eyes trying to look as if i was asleep. But acting has never been my strong point. The monsters played with my hair, my cheeks, my shirt, but i din give in. I was too angry now to even contemplate paying them a dime. They kept commenting, called me names, raised their clothes but i just looked away, red in the face, but firm in resolve. Finally they left and i breathed a sigh of relief. The “uncle”, that ols wily fox immediately woke up and came down to the lower berth. And after ten minutes, so did that dratted best friend of mine. And he had the cheek to laugh at me as i sorrowfully told him what those monsters had done. The girls, too, just couldnt stop laughing. Whom they were laughing at, is still a mystery to me. Anyway, that helped break the ice and we all got talking. We spoke till late in the night till that Akbar’s grandad scolded us and told us to go off to sleep. Next day, when Pune came, we all exchanged numbers, and to this day we havent lost touch with each other.
Sanjay and I remained best friends throughout college. We were there for each other during exams, supported each other during matches, were there in the same team when our college won the zonal cricket tournament after 7 years .We were standing side by side yelling madly when Ganguly waved his shirt in the Lord’s balcony and every year on Republic Day, we’d be standing together looking at the skies and saluting,pride in our hearts, when the fighter planes would fly over my terrace. We will be there for each other when we get married (going to be the best men in each other’s ) and will enroll our sons in the same cricket academy. Will be there for each other till the end.
…But if ever i hear a eunuch again, im gonna think about that traitor best friend of mine, abuse him a whole lot in my mind and run away like hell.