Sunday, April 18, 2010

And the 17 and 19 year olds...

19 year old (boy) “Bai, darwaja kaayko nai kholela hai?”

I hand over the key to him silently. He is half Nepali. Slit-eyes, creased furthermore owing to sleepiness.

17 year old (girl) “Mujhe de. Chaabi kaunsi hai mujhe pata hai.”

He sliced a sullen glance at her and then at me. He walked away. If looks were knives, we would have been shred into pieces. The sparks were crackling wildly.

For five whole minutes we saw him struggling with the 20 odd keys hanging from the bunch.

19 year old (boy) now irritated “Konsa chaabi hai?”

17 year old (girl) takes the bunch from him silently, selects a key and opens the lock. She turns to me and hands over the key bunch. I open the door and wait for him to enter. 17 year old (girl) is waiting on the other side. We are making an effort to not smile but our eyes say it all.

19 year old (boy) studiously refuses to look at either of us. He keeps his things and walks out. As he passes us his face breaks into a smile but he is trying his best to hide it. He says gruffly “Theek hai, theek hai. Hota hai kabhi kabhi.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Conversations with a 15 year old

It was in Hindi. What follows is verbatim and transliterated.

"So....what do you plan to do after 10th?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know."
"Yes. My mind has become dumb. It is not speaking to me."

"So how are studies going on?"
"Well. Every morning I wake up early. And when I look out of the window I see the first rays of the sun hit that board over there. Nothing moves. Everything is still. Even the leaves. It looks like a painting."
"Why don't you write about this?"
Looks at me with that sidelong glance. And smiles.
"I tried doing that once. Then I felt - whom am I kidding? Am I intellectual enough to write? And then I stopped."

"What happened to you yesterday? You seemed a little off mood."
"Yesterday? Nothing. There are times when I tend to withdraw. When I've had enough. But today in the meeting. I suddenly saw darkness all around me. I did not like it. This blur. This unknown opaqueness. Its not good."

"It is very necessary to be friends with some people and not rub them the wrong way."
I started. I stared. I asked. "What do you mean?"
"There are times when I get beaten up at school for no rhyme or reason. Bullies just pick me and beat me. Suddenly after some days I come to know that A bhaiya and the rest of the gang have bashed those bullies for having beaten me up. This happens because I make sure that I am cool with all the older guys. R bhaiya should be careful. He should not rub these guys the wrong way."

He hangs around. Inconspicuous. You won't even notice him. Even if he passes and re-passes you a hundred times you won't notice him. He has this slouching strut. He wears low-slung jeans and loose t-shirts with sleeves folded. Or shirts with the first three buttons, unbuttoned :). He is very short, very thin, he has dark brown skin, dark and gleaming like freshly polished virgin wood, he has beautiful expressive brown eyes and a smile that can melt a heart of stone. And when you start talking to him you then realize that he is different from the rest. He is deep. He is profound. He is wise beyond his years.