D

ear Sambamoorthy,

My name is Hariprasad Hegde, but my friends call me Hari. I just got an email from the college with a link to the student’s portal, and I learnt that you will be my roommate at 201, Ashoka hostel block. I was speaking to some alumni of this prestigious college and they tell me that all hostel blocks have been named after illustrious kings and emperors who have ruled India. I am glad that ours is Ashoka, as I really like him. His renouncing of violence has always attracted me. I do not like people who propagate violence.

I see that you are joining B Tech, while I am joining M Sc Development Studies (Integrated). It was actually my father’s dream that I join KIT. But, I love him. By the way, I am from Bangalore, I don’t like to call Bengaluru. I have an elder sister, Anju.

Would love to know about your background. Isn’t it so good that we can know who our roommates were before we entered the college? I am already loving it.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours friendly,
Hari

Two men with the moon light on their muscular posterior jumped over the fence. A distant bull stood menacing and aggressive.

Hari clicked ‘send’ from his email account, hari.love@gmail.com.

He folded his hands, closed his eyes, reclined on the chair and took a deep breath. His eyes remained closed for a couple of minutes, but he swiveled left and right on a revolving chair. The chair was surprisingly quiet for his quick turns. The turns relaxed in a while. Hari then placed his tongue between the lips and started blowing, which made a sound, like if he farted. He was enjoying seeing himself in the mirror. The turns and the blowing continued till he finally burst out into laughter.

“I am going to watch some videos," Hari had the habit of speaking to himself aloud.

“Ho ho ho", Hari prided his loud belly laugh, as he watched an animation video that he loved, “This is so funny."

His fingers quietly moved on to another video on Youtube titled, ‘The Matador". Hari surveyed if someone was nearby and gently kicked the door to a close.

The night was dimly lit with dark hues of blue reflecting on what seemed like a bull farm. Two men with the moon light on their muscular posterior jumped over the fence. A distant bull stood menacing and aggressive. The bull huffed and puffed; it was certainly one that was good at fights. The two men possibly drunk, laughed loudly while speaking in a language that Hari could not comprehend. “It is Javier Bardem", he spoke softly. Javier was completely naked with a cape covering only his equipment and his chiseled muscular arms invited the bull for a fight. The bull felt provoked and rushed towards him while the naked matador moved the cape sideways with an attitude that distracted the bull’s focus. The bull ran a circle and stood to charge again; the camera panned behind Javier, revealing his butt.

Tiny beads of sweat rained on Hari’s forehead and upper lip. His pupils were wide open and glowed blue.

“Hari! Join us for some snacks," Anju spoke loud from the living room, below.

The evening sun was sneaking in balmy orangish yellow columns of light into the living room. Vishal and Anju were watching a film on television. The hero and the heroine were engrossed in some conversation inside a moving tram. The St. Stephen’s Cathedral, at Stephansplatz in Vienna was visible through the tram’s glass windows.

The hero, a white man in his mid-twenties, posed a challenge to the petite beautiful white girl. “Alright I have an idea, are you ready? It’s Q and A time. We have known each other a little while now, we are stuck together for a while. We will ask each other a few direct questions".

The girl was not confident of where this game was headed, but agreed after a bit of persuasion.

“We have to be 100% honest with each other", he was charming.

“Ok, here is the first question. Describe to me your first sexual feelings towards a person?" he kept a cheeky tone.

She started laughing, “My God, my first sexual feeling? Alright," she did not hesitate. “Jean Marc Fleury" her eyes opened wide and cheeks turned pink. “We were at this summer camp together and he was a swimmer. He had bleached-out hair and green eyes. To improve his timing he would shave off the hair from his arms and legs. He would look like a gorgeous dolphin, but extremely sexy. My friend Emma had a huge crush on him. So, one day I was cutting across the field to my room, he came walking up beside me and I told him, ‘you should date Emma, she has a big crush on you’. He turned to me and in a gruff voice said, ‘too bad, because I have a big crush on you’". She burst out laughing.

Vishal paused the film, “Anju, I have never asked this question to you. Let us play this too, Hari you should also join in. So, Anju what’s yours?" he prodded.

“I am not going to say anything, especially before my baby brother," she stood up utterly mortified.

“C’mon, be a sport, I know I am the best hottie you have ever known," he laughed, “but give others a chance, out with it".

He held him tight and led him closer to the locker. Hari felt something different in the way his shirt felt against HIM.

“That’s a lot of ego mister," Anju was always ready for a fight and Vishal maintained his cheeky smile.

“Now that you began this, why don’t you spill the beans first?" Anju gave it back.

“Deal," Vishal pushed himself up and sat with his legs crossed on the couch. He readied as if he was going to deliver a speech. Hari and Anju were amused, but looked on.

“It was my geography teacher, Vasundhra. She was Monica Bellucci and Jayapradha rolled into one. Tall, her skin was spotless and had a pinkish hue. Curvy and voluptuous; she had this elegant princess-like walk. She would wear these cotton sarees in pastel shades. Phew! Very hot. All the male teachers also had a thing for her. But, she was a real smart woman. She knew she was gorgeous and she would play it to her advantage. I don’t think anyone learnt anything from her class. We were all so heart broken when she announced her engagement to some doofus. Hmmm!" and he ended his story in one breath.

Hari could not stop laughing listening to Vishal, who was red with all the blushing. Anju was clever to hide her jealousy with a louder laugh.

“So, Anju it is your turn. No, why not Hari? Tell us about your first wet feelings? On another note, we really don’t know about your girlfriends. Anju tells me that you are very popular in the class," and he looked for an approval from Anju. Anju turned towards Hari with serious eyes, but her lips still smiled.

“I am not sure. I don’t think so. Think I am getting a vertigo", Hari stood up to leave, “Anju do you have my pill?"

“Hari, I will get your pill, but stay", Anju pressed him, “Now you are a big boy. Treat us like your friends. You got a little dizzy when Vishal asked you about girls. Is everything okay? Are you afraid of something?" Anju prodded him.

“Do you like boys? That is okay too," Vishal inquired with a little sarcasm.

“Why does everyone treat me like an idiot? Why can’t I have my space? Is this funny? I don’t think talking sexual is funny," Hari erupted.

“Do you know, Freud says, that a small infant feels sexual pleasure, when he sucks his mother’s breasts for milk, then later this pleasure gets exemplified when he shits? What would you say for that?"

Hari was visibly angry, red, sweating and in rage. Tears filled his eyes while he tried to control his anger.

Vishal and Anju stayed silent but were confused and concerned.

Hari took long steps towards the porch and ran towards the gate.

“Hari! What happened? Look, I am sorry. I was just pulling your leg." Vishal pleaded. Anju touched Vishal’s shoulder and calmed him. “Don’t worry, he will be fine, he will come back soon", she comforted.

Hari ran with all the energy he could consume. He was quick for his size. The roads suddenly looked bleached. He ran through a tunnel of light that blinded him from the pedestrians and motorists. The pounding of his steps, the heat passing from his bare feet, the shiver of his thighs, the wind cutting through the fingers, the sound of his breath; he heard, he felt, he cried; consumed in the belief, that he has the right to be angry, even though others may not understand. The pain of judgment was heavier than the weight of his body. Half way through the war, there was no time to ponder, he had to win or die before defeat.

Suddenly he was reminded of a dark incident from the past.

“Let me go with Hari and get the jewel box, don’t worry", HE pacified Mr. and Mrs. Hegde who were anxious about forgetting the box. “How can you forget Malini? Anju is getting married tomorrow morning at 5", Mr. Hegde was perturbed but maintained his cool. HE was Mrs. Malini Hegde’s younger brother.

HE and Hari took slow steps outside the wedding hall.

“I will buy you ice cream at the Dollops ice cream parlour before your house," HE was animated “and that’s our secret okay?"

Hari was excited at the offer. His father was strict about not eating ice creams as he would normally catch the flu instantly. Hari was not really close to HIM, “Uncle, can we take an auto? I really like to take a ride".

“Absolutely, have I not told you this before? You are my most favourite nephew in the entire family" and HE kissed Hari on his right cheek. Hari was caught off guard, he hated people who kissed him. He was now a six year old big boy.

Before the auto could start, Devi amma came out of nowhere, “Hari!" she was ecstatic and loud. She was their maid. She had taken care of him, right from the time that he was a baby. Lately she had not been coming to their home, due to some ill health. “How are you, raja?" and she affectionately plucked his cheeks with her wet hand. Hari nodded with a smile. “You have become a big boy," her toothy mouth opened wide, but her eyes were tearful. Soon, her motherly eyes turned disapproving when she looked at HIM. Her smiling face tuned morose. Hari was surprised at the sudden change in her demeanour. “Anju akka is getting married tomorrow", he informed. “Yes, amma mentioned, will definitely come tomorrow", she returned to her glowing happy face, but gave HIM a scornful look.

The distance to their house was covered in less than ten minutes. HE was chatty all through the journey. They stopped briefly at the ice cream parlour to pick up Hari’s favourite flavour, mango vanilla duet.

Hari always volunteered to open the door to their house. He ran towards their parents’ bedroom holding the leftover ice cream stick in one hand, while HE patiently walked behind. HE was surprisingly much quieter than earlier while inside the auto. Hari took noisy steps towards the steel cupboard that had a safety locker. The key hole was to high for his height. “Uncle, can you lift me, I am not able to reach."

HE held him tight and led him closer to the locker. Hari felt something different in the way his shirt felt against HIM. Hari quickly turned back but was mortified to see that HE was not wearing any clothes on his body. Hari opened his eyes wide while he gently slipped down HIS torso and looked away when his face drew closer to HIS lower body. Hari froze and continued staring at the mirror attached to the steel cupboard. He could see HIM kissing his shoulder and caressing his arm, but Hari remained motionless. HE tightened his hold on Hari with both HIS hands and forcibly pushed him on the bed.

“Amma!!!" Hari screamed.

A large wave splashed and landed close to his bare feet and brought him back to the present. The sun resembled an orange ball and was slowly setting down at the end of the horizon. The beach wore a deserted look that evening, with only a few strolling locals from Anju’s neighbourhood. There were a few fishermen, who were chatting close to the waters and mending their nets. Hari sat staring at the never ending waves of the Bay of Bengal. Watching the waves have a way of soothing a disturbed mind. Hari was amused by two small crabs that were on a race only to be drawn back in to the waters by the oncoming wave. Hari smiled at their predicament but was surprised to find that they continued their race till the next wave destroyed their present purpose.

He heard sounds of someone eating close by and was startled to find God Hanuman sitting next to him and eating a butter biscuit. It was a child covered in green grease paint with a tail and a funny crown. He sat crouched eating the biscuit, while tightly holding another four in his left hand. Hari and the green coloured child exchanged smiles. Hari felt that the little one might have been tired and hungry after a painful day of begging from strangers. Believers always gave money to either gods in stone or someone dressed like one. Perhaps to see a god in fellow beings wearing plain clothes would have been rather frightful.

Little Hanuman offered to share one of his biscuits with Hari and encouraged him to eat, while revealing his compassionate smile.