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Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I’ve always been one of those strong and silent types—well, almost, save the silent part. Most objects—corporeal or otherwise, on bumping into me, rebound with an unexpected celerity. I have the unhappy penchant to speak my mind, and that yoked to the even unhappier penchant for being an insensitive cad, has only exacerbated my predicament over the years.

I strive to aright this entire system loaded against me by using the facilities available at my disposal. Intelligence, alas, was never one of them ! I get compelled, eventually, to use my fist and that yields succour for the nonce, before I fall back on the reliable folly of my ways.

One evening I was blamelessly awaiting my turn in a queue at one of these malls I briefly stepped out to pinch the cheek of a bonny infant, who although ensconced in the safety of a shopping cart, was assuredly not part of a Get One free scheme. This was to the general merriment of all--the baby beamed, the proud mother grinned and even the father, loaded with his monthly paraphernalia managed a wry smile. On getting back into the queue, I found a snickering youth, who had been behind me, now ahead in the battlelines of Life along with his snickering friend. At first I though this was a mild error on his part and he would cede to the army of righteous lawfulness and get back to position.

But such are the vicissitudes of Life—he unashamedly stood his ground, and my countenance, which was till then filled with the milk of human kindness, curdled. I threw the errant duo meaningful glances, and was returned by baleful glares. Realizing the rampant recidivism of Gen Next, I manfully conquered an urge to let matters lie and took action --by stepping forward in the queue and executing the shoulder push of my dreams—natural, effortless, compact and effective, as the bloke almost keeled over. What expression he wore when he got up cannot be recounted as I had returned to pinch the other cheek of the aforesaid bonny infant. Now the roles were reversed, the baleful glares were now my prerogative and the other party was turgid with impotent rage and righteous indignation.

I am innocent, My Lord….

The following day, on a bus that purportedly traverses the longest route in Mumbai, I unexpectedly got a seat early and was on the verge of nodding off when I espied a commuter who met with my chauvinist ideals of gallantry (as opposed to chivalrous) , a middle-aged lady, evidently tired.. Even as I got up to let her have my place, another opportunistic commuter, a la Butragueno, pounced, and was halfway to perching himself, till I managed to ward the threat off, getting my left hand in the way, blocking him off and bearing his not-inconsiderable weight, till the seat was restored to its rightful occupant.

Not bad---I had ensured Justice….with my bare hands, twice over.


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