Now that we’re done with the public flogging of all evil on this blog, it is time to get back to our usual merriment. So today, we’ll shift focus to a tender tale of love, romance, jealousy and murder. Er okay .. Maybe not that tender. And like the last one, this one too, is a bit long. Just a leeetle.
Long-time readers would have heard of my affair with Viktor and have also seen glimpses of my on-again off-again romance with Bhuvan. When both of these people made an appearance in my comments section recently, I got a flurry of questions about their identities. (Well, I didn’t actually get a flurry of questions, but that sounded like a good excuse to write this post, so there.) So here’s the scoop — The characters of Viktor and Bhuvan were created by me, in one crazed moment of weakness. But some innovative commenters came along and poured life and personality into them, giving them likes, dislikes, accents, attitudes and histories. This post is an attempt to piece the stories together.
Also, since this story has the quintessential Hindi movie theme of brothers-lost-in-childhood (a la Yaadon Ki Baarat) and mistaken romantic interests (a la Hum Kisise Kum Nahin), it only seemed right that the soundtrack for this story came from Nasir Hussain films with music by R D Burman. All hail the loRD!
Part One — Viktor
are hooo, goriya kahaan teraa des re
goriyaa kahaan teraa des
are hooo, tohe dekhoon to laage thes re
goriyaa kahaan teraa des~ Caravan (1971)
<Exit truck-driver, one laal-dupatta-ed heroine and a brigade of chamiyas going tee-hee-hee>
Viktor Sirivastov. Belarusian truck driver. Met him during my stint as a researcher in Minsk. So what if I was buried under a glacier and my only connection to civilization was the supply truck that arrived once every three months with sardines? Kya truck drivers insaan nahin hote? My red dupatta and the glacial cold. Fire and ice. Opposites attract and all that blah. Plus, how do you say no to a man who smells of fish?
Part Two — Bhuvan
<Enter hero in white-and-gold tights with a red heart sequinned on his chest, singing>
bachna ae haseenon lo main aa gaya
husn ka aashiq, husn ka dushman
apni adaa hai yaaron se judaa!~ Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977)
Bhuvaneshwar Chandra Shrivastava. Classmate from third grade. Reappeared in my life with the famous lines – ‘Hello, I am Bhuvaneshwar Chandra Shrivastava. I am a boy. I would like to make friendship with you.’
When Bhuvan wrote that email, I used that opportunity to cruelly mock him. Greatly saddened by my behavior, he posted a comment (in heavy-duty Hindi) lamenting about how it did not befit me to behave like that. He also spoke of how hard-hearted a person I was to allow his name to stand in the way of our making friendship. In addition there was a lot of mumbo-jumbo about memories of wheat fields and babbling brooks and waking up to the sound of cock-a-doodle-doo to drive the point home that he was a bhola-bhala gaaon ka chhora.
I was unmoved. He might be painting himself as an innocent boy now, but what most people didn’t know was that BCS had a past with me. One, that I had not yet forgotten.
<Striking pose, pointing accusatory finger at hero and singing>
bhoolega dil jis din tumhein
vo din zindagi ka aakhri din hoga
kya hua, tera vaada, vo kasam, vo iraada ..~ Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977)
A flashback of the stifled pain of my childhood came pouring out in rotating black and white circles. And so in response, I wrote —
<scene fading into sepia tones> .. Bahut saal pehle ki baat hai —
It was a fateful day in 3rd grade when we sat together in the same class, on the same bench. You may not remember me, but I remember you well. You leaned over and asked for my freshly-sharpened pencil. I said I couldn’t give it cos my daddy bought it for me. ‘Ye pencil mujhe dede, Meghaaa!’ you said, in your best Gabbar accent. I refused – ‘nahiiiiin’ much like the stoic Thakur. You wouldn’t relent. You demanded it saying – I am a boy! I refused. Boy or girl, NOBODY deserved my daddy’s pencil but me! In a fit of anger, you pulled my pigtail. And a moment from childhood was frozen in time.
<sepia tones shifting back to normal Eastmancolor>
Of course, it was inevitable in a story like this that BCS had to have been nursing feelings for me all these years. Bachpan ki mohobbat and all that. And so he did. A lifelong quest has come to an end, he wrote.
Scene at the village bus stop. A little girl with pigtails in mismatched rubber-bands looks out of the window of a slow moving State Transport bus. A little Boy running barefoot behind the bus on the dusty path, carrying his pet murga, Murughan, shouting â€˜Meghaji! Meghaji!!â€™. He roes, gidgidaoes, but the world doesnâ€™t listen to his *one*.
<Cute, pint-sized gaaon ka chhora, running behind bus, singing>
deewana mujhsa nahin is ambar ke neeche
aage hai kaatil mera aur main peeche peeche *pant pant*~ Teesri Manzil (1966)
Part Three — Happy times
mil gaya, humko saathi mil gaya
hum se gar koi jal gaya, ho ho, jalne de!~ Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977)
Many months passed. I remained unmoved by BCS’s feelings. The childhood scars were too deep. Plus Viktor may have looked all brawn with his shotgun and brusque talk, smelled like hell thanks to the company he kept, but underneath all those frozen sardines, was a gentle heart.
Me: Ohh, Viktorrrr! Hunnnny!
Me: *blush* You make me feel so special ..
Me: You are the one I’ve been waiting for!
Viktor: Aww, grunt.
Sigh. Such tenderness. And he took such good care of me. If ever a slimeball said anything nasty about me, he’d be ready with his swig of vodka and a shotgun. (In that order. Which led to some disastrous consequences. The elk and moose of the region will bear sombre testimony to this.) But all in all, life was good. But alas. Good times were soon to end.
Part Four — The end of Viktor
dil lenaa khel hai dildaar ka
bhoole se naam na lo pyaar ka
pyaar bhi rootha, yaar bhi jhootha
dekho mujhko dilwaalon
khaaya hai dhokha maine pyaar ka!~ Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)
Viktor tempted his own end. All through his drinking and driving I stood by him with unflinching devotion. At every moment of his trigger-happiness, I helped dig the necessary holes and shovel the needed dirt. (Do you have any clue how difficult it is to bury a moose?) And I silently played second-fiddle to his main violin of ichthyoidal fetishes. But then he did the unthinkable. He tried to gross me out. He came home one day with a new deodorant he’d bought. Stale Scales it was called. But if you dont like it I vill change it. How about that other one – ‘Spice of Liceâ€™? he asked casually.
That was it. I couldn’t bear it anymore. This had to end. I had to do the deed. Youâ€™d give up ‘stale scalesâ€™ for me, schnuckums? Really, poodles? Awww, I always knew you were a keeper! My cuddly-poo, I said. Needless to say, he promptly dropped dead. Poor Viktor, may his soul rest in pieces. I don’t blame him though. Tell me, which self-respecting supply-truck driver can survive ‘cuddly-poo’?
zamaane ne maare jawaan kaise kaise
zameen khaa gayi aasmaan kaise kaise ..~ Baharon Ke Sapne (1967)
I even wrote a li’l ditty to commemorate the moment —
Oh how the mighty rise, and how the mighty fall
But let this be a lesson, learnt by one and all -
Be sweet to us, and over you we will gush.
Gross us out, and we will kill you with mush.
Part Five — The dots connect
yaadon kii baaraat niklii hai aa dil ke dwaare
sapnon kii shehnaai biite dinon ko pukaare .. ~ Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973)
When Viktor died, they went through his personal effects. There were rumors of his being a Govinda resembling Russian spy who had a thing for Indian chamiyas. So naturally, the world was curious to know about the life he lived. A half-eaten piece of gum. A hip-flask with the letter M engraved upon it. And deep amongst his belongings, hidden inside a secret music box, they found a locket. On opening it (yeah it was the classic Hindi-film, flippy-open types) there were two photos. One of Viktor. And another of a man who looked just like Viktor. Huh? Confused? Yes, so were they. You see, Viktor had a twin! And no prizes for guessing who it was!
Part Six — The Return of Bhuvan
Bhuvan had watched the entire story silently. But when he learnt of the news of Viktor’s end, he could no longer remain so. All the milna-bichhadna songs he had been practicing since a kid, had just gone to waste. His slow-motion running was frozen mid-frame, Matrix style. All the kaandhe pe tils he was gonna compare and rejoice about had just been turned into Lonavla ka til chikki instead.
So he decided that it was time the world knew the story. Viktor Sirivastov was none other than Vikram Chandra Shrivastava. The brothers were separated in their childhood. Where? At the Kumbh mela of course, dummy. Have movies taught you nothing? Bhuvan narrated —
scene cut to kumbh mela in allahbad. daddy-srivastava, mommy-srivastava and two chutku-putku things taking dubkee in river. two evil-looking russians with big handlebar moustaches, moles on their cheeks (battleship potemkin style), and bad sadhu disguises survey the crowd through their binoculars.
â€œPraporshchik Ilya, have you found a kandidateâ€, says the kaptain.
â€œNo komrade kaptain, itâ€™s too krowdedâ€
The kaptain hits Ilya on the head, nearly dislodging his fake beard, â€œHere, give it to me!â€
The next scene is filmed through two circles cut out of paper placed on the camera lens to make it look like a binocular view. A little kid takes a dubkee and comes out of the water shaking his head. He picks his ear and is puzzled to find a sardine head in it. He flicks it away.
â€œThere, that one!â€
Ilya comes running along the river bank, fake beard bobbing, picks up the other kid by mistake, puts him in a gunny sack, and runs away. Mommy-srivastava turns around to find her little baby gone. She screams, â€œNaheenâ€.
Part Seven — A new beginning
The two men who had such a great impact on my life were connected all along? Strange are the ways of fate. So overwhelmed by the moment was I, that I couldn’t write a response to Bhuvan for days. But here, finally, is my reply —
o mere sonaa re sonaa re sonaa re
de doongii jaan judaa mat honaa re
maine tujhe zaraa der mein jaanaa
huaa qusoor khafaa mat honaa re~ Teesri Manzil (1966)
Priya Putku urf Bhuvan,
I was just bemoaning the loss of a current love when you stepped back into my life like a thandi hawa ka jhonka. I cannot tell you the kind of fireworks that are exploding in my heart on seeing your return to my world. (But if you are interested, they are the anaar bombs from Ajanta Fireworks Industries, 118, Ammankovilpatti North Street, Sivakasi – 17.) And now I find that the two men who have ever moved me (If we don’t count the bulldozer driver in the summer of 2002) were actually connected? God plays strange tricks on us.
Magar ye to meri ek chhoti si bhool ne saara gulshan jalaa diya types scene ho gaya. (Translated for rest of audience – I made one chhotu mistake and ended up starring in a Gulshan Kumar movie.) You didn’t pay attention to your brother for one fleeting moment and his life changed forever! Waise galti aapki bhi nahin hai. It was not really your fault either. That sardine in your ear was probably convulsing distractingly and dancing like Sandhya in a V Shantaram movie singing — man ki pyaas mere man se na nikli, aise tadpon main jaise jal bin machli. Alas, what could you do?
I have also finally understood the reason why you treated me and my pigtails, the way you did. Those sadhu-babas, their fake beards and their anmol moles caused you to be deprived of the brother you loved. Such emotional turmoil at such a young age coupled with an aversion for long hair led you to react agressively at the most unexpected of moments, I am sure. But alas, I did not know this. I knew not that, beneath the grimey untucked shirt and snot-covered half-pant was a kid who had seen so much at such a young age. And more importantly, that when he reached out with his grubby fingers and lunged towards my hair, he was only looking for solace. For support. And for spice of lice, as a fond memory of his then-not-so-long-lost brother.
But after all these years, I have finally understood you. And I have decided. We should not let Chutku’s death go to waste. This trikon of our life is a strange one, but I would like to believe that this was more than just God messing up his Geometry test.
This is where the story stands today. Let us see where fate takes us next. As the story unfolds, you shall of course, be dutifully updated. But for now, we shall take a commercial break and step out for some samosas and lime-n-lemony Limca.
For all those who lament about a lack of a love life, this was a story in seven parts, meant to teach you how you can get a make-believe one through your blog. Or to live vicariously through mine, if you prefer. Back to reality now.