A Non-sense Novelette
Chandu’s next short visit to Nischindapur was prompted by his growing desire to visit his ladylove Nanibala in the light of his newfound eminence.
The two mynahs pecking at each other on the roadside babul tree, a sure sign of bad omen, should have warned him of an impending doom.
The first encounter he had in the village was with his old friend Bistupada, who snooped down on him.
“Come , come, Chandu, or shall I call you Srirup.” After nudging him down to the roadside tea café and ordering two cups of special tea with extra milk, sugar and minced ginger he continued with a malicious grin, “Now that you are a celebrity, the headmaster wants you to give a speech to the fellow students on the annual function day.”
Aware of Chandu’s terror of facing his old headmaster and hooligan children in hordes he guffawed heartily.
“You know, Bistu, old chum,” Chandu shuddered and mellowed down perceptibly, “I can’t do that, you know–.”
“Why not?” asked Bistupada, “You can always talk about crimes and detectives. You are now writing thrillers for children and I am following your stories closely.”
“Now I would like to ask you something,” the malicious grin having never left his face, Bistu continued, “in the last novelette you wrote about a criminal with a polio affected leg due to typhoid in childhood.”
“What about that,” Chandu was confused.
“Does typhoid cause polio?” Bistu asked politely.
“Why shouldn’t typhoid cause polio?” It was Chandu’s turn to be aggressive.
“Well, I think polio is caused by polio.” Bistu was not too confident.
“What silly ideas you have? As if cow dung can manufacture more cow dung.” Chandu was getting bolder, “Typhoid causes a lot of things including death. Why shouldn’t it cause polio?”
Seeing his opponent in the countdown state, Chandu landed his knockout punch.
“I think, Bistu, you are suffering from typhoid. You have acidity, heartburn, constipation, irritability and your left leg looks thinner than the right. Take care, I warn you, and get treated for typhoid.”
Bistupada looked at his left leg and then to his right, suspicions gnawing at his heart, mumbled something incoherent and tottered off without paying for the tea.
Victorious, Chandu lurked, most of the next couple of days, in the vicinity of Nanibala’s house. But he was never alone with his beloved, the bull-like father Balaram always hovering around, laughing loudly at his own jokes at the cost of Chandu’s waist size and his invisible rumps. A few surreptitious winks managed by Chandu were completely ignored by Nanibala.
It was on the evening of the second day that by some lucky coincidence Chandu found himself alone with his beloved in the hayloft in the cowshed. The only flaw was the score or more of the cows starting unashamedly at them with questioning eyes as big as his beloved’s. Trying to ignore them completely, Chandu chewed a few cuds and spat.
Nani turned on him with a threatening snort, “What do I hear about vamps frequenting your boarding lodge?”
Chandu was taken aback. He had never expected his exploits travelling so far.
“Nothing of the sort! All rumours and loose talk. Such stories always follow poets. They are like my sisters, you know.” Chandu explained.
“But Bistu was telling me that a boarder he knows has seen some emaciated vultures pecking at you,” Nani had more information than Chandu would have liked.
“Bistu!” Chandu exploded, “That jealous, cross eyed, son of a dung beetle! I will crush him like a fly and feed him to the dogs. Don’t believe a word he says.”
In a gesture of compromise Nanibala allowed a tiny winy cheek wetting during the briefest suspended moment of ensnarement in the full bovine view, when Chandu vowed never to look upon any other woman.
Nanibala threatened, “Remember, Chandu, no more sisterly business. If I hear of any more reports, I will personally come to your lousy city to strangle these sisters with my bare hands before I deal with you.”
While returning home, Chandu pondered long and hard to review the situation clearly in his mind. He had long suspected that Bistu had eyes on his beloved. No doubt he was an amorous viper of the worst kind, and needed to have his backbone crushed. But how?
A poet-cum-detective story writer, it is said, is never sort of scheming plots.
Next morning, therefore, Chandu, enlightened with a brighter vision, jauntily approached Bistupada’s house and knocked.
There was a surprise waiting for him. Bistupada appeared surprisingly cheerful and welcomed him brandishing both his legs. “No typhoid, see. I checked with Dr.Mini, Senior who is the district expert on typhoid and all diseases beyond S including syphilis, small pox, typhus, trypanosomiasis and so on up to Zerophobia, whatever that may be.”
Clearly bewildered, Chandu momentarily forgot his own mission and asked, “What did he say about polio?”
“Oh! He could not say anything about polio. You see, ever since the billy goat, the doctor’s pet Black Bengal, devoured the first part of his Materia Medica, he has restricted his practice beyond the alphabet S.”
Enlightened, Chandu revived his mission and thundered, “Bistu, I have decided to address the school gathering and speak about our first day in college in Kolkata, where you displayed your keen presence of mind by unfurling a sail in the forequarters of the delicate parts of your anatomy.”
Bistupada immediately turned ashen grey and shuddered. He vividly remembered the only serious blot in his otherwise blameless, somewhat uneventful life.
It was the rag day in college in the very first week, when the seniors seriously devoted themselves to the proper education and upliftment of the fresher. Bistupada, one of the initial draws, was invited to elaborate the anatomical details of the lady students in his class. The subjects of his discussion were, presumably for his benefit, all there sitting in the front row.
His ears turning vermillion, knees violently knocking against each other, Bistupada stammered inaudibly, when shouts of “louder” “louder” emitted throughout the classroom. Turning redder, Bistupada suddenly shifted his side bag to the front of his lower torso, held it rigidly in this new found position with his right hand and refused to utter a single more word.
Excused as the next victim was due, BIstupada returned to his seat in a stiff gait with the bag in position, sat immobile till the end of the session and left as unobtrusively as possible.
Bistupada thought that he had managed the situation quite strategically but to his utter dismay, the only talk the next day in college was about a new student wetting his pants.
Of course Bistupada remembered and all these years he had nightmares of having this episode reaching the ears of his students. No doubt he was shattered. “Srirup,” he pleaded, “you are a great man, a celebrity, more of a man than all of us. Please have pity on me.”
“Then lay off my Nani,” Chandu thundered, “and don’t try to poison her ears. If I hear of you anywhere within a hundred yards of Nanibala Ghosh, your future in this village is doomed.”
(To be continued…)