There were several occasions he had laughed at my dialect. North Karnataka has caste based dialects, mainly Brahmin and non-Brahmin. Right from childhood, I have a lot of Brahmin friends who influenced my non-Brahminical dialect and made me unconsciously follow them. This guy was my best childhood friend, and in his view had a major role in shaping my present day dialect, that now people ask me, “are you Brahmin?” despite my non-Brahmin name. This story is not about how I became a Brahmin-by-dialect, but of the “twist-in-life” of the very guy who was responsible for it.
He was from an orthodox Brahmin family. But those traditions never influenced him. In fact, I knew several shlokas by-heart, but he never gave a damn to learn them. Onion and garlic were forbidden in his house, so he used to often eat out, which his mother always disliked. He seldom performed Sandhyavandana. Not that he was rebellious of these practices, but he was just too lazy. He was a total misplace in his family, and his mother pleaded me regularly to change him, which I had given up long back. Though he never did something that could be called Brahminical, he was still very proud of himself being born as a Brahmin. He always wore sacred thread, teased people who ate non-veg, and supported Rightist view.
College life comes with its own madness. Nature invited us into this, and we were as happy as those buffaloes running madly in rain. Following girls to their homes after college, debating on the most beautiful looking face of the day in market place, rounding the city late night on bike, was our daily routine. Thanks to those cops who spared us when we were caught wandering late night on the streets, without a reason.
One day he saw a beautiful junior in college and had a crush on her almost in split second. “Basu, who is she?” he asked without taking his eyes off her (Basu is short form of my name). Just by the tone of his voice, I was able to feel his thoughts. I didn’t know her either. But, by her looks I was able to gather some prima facie information.
I said, “Forget her, she is a Muslim. She won’t suit you”.
I told to myself, “Rather, you won’t suit her”. Yes, she was that beautiful, even I couldn’t take my eyes off her for some time. We both stood there, like statues until the classroom bell rang.
The next day, he looked sufficiently troubled- mentally. No doubt he had fallen for her. He said, “I’ve decided to woo her”.
His tone of voice indicated that he has made his decision and I should not try to convince him otherwise. The thought of “what’s next?” came to my mind. She was a Muslim and he was a Brahmin. Bombay movie scenes flashed on my eyes for few seconds. There was no train to Bombay from my city, how will this guy give her tickets?! I thought I’ll give it a try to stop the horse of his thoughts. “Dude, are you crazy?” I said, “Let alone your family and her family, even if our Muslim friends get to know about this, we are finished!”
He put his state of mind in plain, neutral tone- “Whatever it takes”.
Agenda for that day after college was fixed. In fact we didn’t even discuss about it. Once college was over, we waited for her outside the campus and started following her, as if we both were hypnotized. The auto-rickshaw she got into went through the city, and then entered a residential colony. It stopped at a cross road, and she got down. She started walking, and we too got off the bike and followed her, pretending as if the bike broke down. She walked for about two to three minutes. She did notice us and looked back couple of times. Maybe she guessed we followed her.
I got worried and said, “Dude, she knows we are following her. Let’s stop and go back.”
Clearly my words did not reach his brain, because he said, “I am going to stop her and ask her name”.
My legs started trembling… this guy had gone out of hands.
“Hold this bike”, he said. Just when he was about to hand-over the bike to me, he felt a tap on his back. We both turned back and our blood run cold immediately. “Who are you following?”
He was dark, heavily built, cross-eyed guy with a harsh voice. His black lower lip had a wound as if someone torn it during a fight. We both had our hearts in mouth when we heard his voice. “I am asking you” he said pointing at my friend. Only then I was able figure out that he was actually looking at my friend.
“N… N… No one bhai”, my friend fumbled. The word “bhai” revealed our surrender to the guy. “I am watching you right from there… you both are following her, are you not?” He raised his voice. My friend looked speechless.
I tried to intervene, “No bhai… we were finding our friend’s house… he lives”, and he cut my words, “You shut up… can’t you teach good things to your friend? I’ll slap you if you talk”.
I just shut up and looked at ground. He turned to my friend, “Who are you? Show me your license”.
My friend took out wallet from his pocket and was about to bring out the license while the guy snatched it and moved a step back. He first looked at license book and kept it in his shirt pocket. He then searched the wallet and found nothing else but about two hundred rupees. He took the money and put it in his trousers, and then gave the wallet back to my friend. He came forward and brought the license out from his pocket and read the name aloud. He paused for couple of seconds, and then advised “Why you do all this being a Brahman?”
My friend had no answer; my right to speech was anyway diminished, so there was a silence.
The guy suddenly turned nice in his voice, “See… I understand this is the age. Even I have crossed it. But be careful ok… go now”.
I couldn’t believe he spared us without punching. I was so relieved, but couldn’t express it.
“Bhai, my license” begged my friend.
“Take it”, he gave it back.
“Bhai, my money”, he begged again.
“Imran is my name, remember it… I stay in this area only… whenever you run into some lafda, call me. Go now”, he ordered.
We silently walked away without turning back. Back in my home, in my room, we both recollected the incident, and laughed till we ran out of breath.
This incident didn’t cause any effect on my friend. He continued falling deeper into the ocean of love and she hardly had any clue. We stalked her at college during the breaks. She now knew for sure what was happening. Occasionally she looked at us, but never gave any response… no smile, nothing. She didn’t even smile for herself. Meanwhile, we were able to find her name, where she stays, what her father does, how many sets of dresses she has, which fits best on her, and so on. Amid of all this, there was a change in my friend’s behavior, which I noticed very late. He had started showing interest in Islam! He talked about their culture, their tradition, namaz, roza, and other stuff. I was so shocked to see what he was turning into, but didn’t know how to get him out of this. Only one thing I was sure about was, that the girl would reject him, in case he approached her.
One day, in his house when his parents were out on some errand, I went in and he welcomed me, “Come Basheer bhai”.
I got confused and looked back to see if there’s someone behind me. He understood my confusion and as if helping me, he said, “I am talking to you Basheer bhai”.
I said, “Who Basheer?”
“You… my dear friend… from now on your name is changed from Basu to Basheer”.
For a while, my mind was unclear as to laugh or take this seriously, so I didn’t react. He was playing chess with his neighbor, Vasudev. I sat silent watching their game. After a while, he gave a check to his opponent Vasu and said, “It’s a check Wasim bhai, save your wazir”.
He sounded too stupid to me, “What? Vasu to Wasim?” I said.
Vasu spoke, “He is calling me by this name since morning… can you tell me what is going on?”
I was ROFL.
The next day, disaster happened. Outside campus, she went to a guy who seemed waiting for her. Damn, he had a cool bike too. We tried to pacify ourselves… “May be her brother”, but their body language didn’t give a single hint to prove us right. As far as we knew, she didn’t had any brothers. Maybe cousin? Even then, oh! They talked for a while and then he rode her away. We had nothing to do but follow them. They stopped at a cinema hall and went in. Both seemed so happy to be with each other. My friend suggested to follow them inside as well. I did not wanted to waste any money… it was all over. So I tried to calm him, “forget her, let’s go home”.
He was on the brink of weeping. By the time we reached my room in my house, he had started to weep. I remained silent, and gave him space. He cried silently for long, and then fell asleep on my bed. He woke up in evening right at the time when prayers from a nearby mosque started. He heard it and said, “These loud speakers disturb a lot”. I was surprised, and also happy to see my friend behave “normal” again!