You should not say obvious things which might hurt somebody. For example, you should not say a visually impaired as blind. Or, you should not call a physically challenged as lame. Or, you should not term my father, who is losing his grey cells very fast, as mad.
But, you cannot always control yourself. Like that day I yelled at him over the phone, “You are a mad man. No argument about that.” But he was not hurt, because the mobile he was using does not catch signals properly. It’s a first generation Nokia phone. The walky-talky types police carry in Calcutta along with their first world war rifles.
I am a very sober kind of person by nature. I don’t remember hurting anybody except my girlfriends…whom I used to chuck after courting for two months.
But, let me explain why I had to be rude to my father.
I got a phone call yesterday which froze my bones. As soon as I accepted the call a baritone voice roared: “Hello Mr. Roy, I am retired Colonel Bagchi reporting from point 335, I mean calling from Ballygunj. Let me introduce myself to you. I am a highly decorated army man from 1964’s batch. During the 1965 war, I was posted in Bihar and during the 1971 war, I was in Bangalore. At the time of the Kargil war, I was in charge of Calcutta. I retired last year and was long searching for you.”
My heart sank. Now what I have done on earth that a bombastic army colonel should search me for a long time. I managed to murmur, “sir, though I was in turbulent North-East and have covered insurgency extensively, I swear I don’t have any dealings with the militant group there. In fact, I have a good rapport with military and have cooperated with them when they wanted (do I have any other option?).”
“Oh Ok, so you were in North-East and covering insurgency. Let me note down.”
“So you didn’t know that sir,” I was almost cursing myself for letting him know my folly.
“No absolutely no.”
“Sir, if you don’t mind, may I ask what’s my fault? Why a highly decorated army man should call me searching? What have I done?”
“This was regarding your job.”
“But sir, I am twenty-eight years almost. And I have a poor eye sight. And a very poor physique. And an even poor state of courage to join army.”
“Oh no, I am not talking about you joining Army. It’s good that pen-pushers like you didn’t join army and pollute the sacred institution. I was just asking what do you do in Bangalore?”
“You don’t know that sir? I thought you know everything before you called me.”
“I know that you are a journalist, the last refuge for useless bastards. I got your number from your father actually.”
I knew, I always knew father is my biggest enemy. Now that I have grown up and become stronger than him, he is searching ways to flog me again to his heart’s content. He doesn’t want to let leave his control over me so easily. He is now employing army-men to achieve this objective. How shrewd and cheap he is! Just like me.
“Sir, I don’t know why father has given you my number. But to my knowledge, except for breaking traffic signals, I haven’t done any wrong.” I carefully hid my eve-teasing and leching part, the only folly uncontrollable by me.
“Of course you have done a wrong.”
“Why sir, I am ready to surrender. I am ready to accept my wrong, if any. Tell me, tell me. pray do tell me.” I could hear the lub-dubs.
“You have done the wrong of coming of age!” The colonel burst out in laughter. So loud that my ear was ringing. He was obviously very proud of his poor jokes.
“Didn’t get you sir.”
“can you keep my daughter happy for her life?”
“Depends, how old is she?”
“Just twenty-three. She is the cutest doll I have ever seen. Thoroughly brought up in an atmosphere of Kalashnikov. She was born in a military hospital at Meerut where army sergeants pulled her by a mine detector. She is a disciplined girl. My girl.”
“Sure sir. I can keep her as long as she is twenty-three. Her entire life of twenty-three in fact. And I will not charge anything. When can I get her?”
The army-colonel, true to his nature, didn’t understand anything out of its face value. “So, shall I think you are ready? When can I expect for a date?”
“I am ready for a date anytime sir. Please bring her.”
“so shall I fix the marriage-date, consulting with your father?”
Here is where I got a shock of my life. “hold on, hold on. You said marriage!”
“yes, of course, and you said you are ready. I am recording the call. You have admitted and consented, now you cannot back out without a court-marshal. You retreat, and you will be fired. Hahahahahahaha…” that rascal again left my ears ringing.
It was now time to become tough. What the fuck a retired colonel will do to me? besides, if he really wants to do something, I can always marry his minefield of a daughter. he had said she is cute!
I meekly told him to give me a week’s time and immediately called up my father. How many times I have told this man not to search a girl for me. my office is teeming with beauties. Hadn’t I selected one, if I wanted? I have no plans to marry now. But he will not listen. He will stop even a rickshaw puller and ask for girls to marry me off. Surely, he is getting old and now his sole wish is to increase his line even if that is at the cost of his son’s happiness.
It was now my time to shout. “Why have you given the colonel my number?” I had to repeat it thrice because of the phone he was using.
“you will marry, you understand. Why are you dragging me in it. Why should I fall in between? I am just playing a good cupid. So I have given him your number.”
“did I ask you to look for a girl for me? you didn't had a reputation for philanthropic activities, forget playing cupid. remember the beating you gave me when you discovered me with your friend's daughter at the attic?”
He was silent for while. may be repenting his sadistic cruelty he mooted against me. than, with a heavy, sad voice, he said: “you don’t want a celebration at home? You don’t want all the locality to come to our house and give you good gifts? Joy and merriment for a week? Marriage is the only way out,” he said innocently.
“why don’t you yourself get married than? I will come to dance. I will bring my mother also to bless the newly weds,” I was quite furious.
Finally after some arguments, he spilled the beans. “Actually, the colonel’s voice was so darth vader type ... and he was, as if, commanding. I was scared. I gave him your number. I am sorry, but words and arrows cannot be called back. Now you and your future father-in-law settle things between you. I will not interfere. Just after a year or two give me my grandson or a grand-daughter. And I will be happy.”
That is when I yelled at him. “YOU ARE A MAD MAN!”
But thanks to the walky-talky…it didn’t reach him.
He was still doing hello hello and hello…when I hung up.
P.S. that colonel is going to call me again Saturday. Please suggest how to save my arse. That bastard is going to shoot me. and I live very near to the cantonment.