‘What do you guys say to some fieldwork? If none of us are tied up with any prior engagements, how about a brief jaunt to the city?’ asked K2.
‘That’s a splendid idea. We will have a great time,’ foretold Usha, already drawing from an image that had no doubt popped up in his fertile imagination. ‘I think we all can use some alcohol in our system.’
Walking towards the campus gates, K2 decided that his new acquaintances had not yet been exposed to the entire range of voice inflexions in his portfolio, and volunteered a more detailed introduction of himself.
‘To be frank, no one calls me K2 as my real name is Suketu, but I am not very fond of it. I figure now that all of us are making new beginnings of sorts in an entirely new place, it would be an opportune time to seed in a name that agrees with my persona. So, do address me as K2 please. You can spell it similar to the mountain range. K – Two. Comprende?’
‘Is that with a G and a double O?’ enquired Karthik. ‘Or should we just refer to you as The Giant Erection?’
K2 was remarkably fast in picking up on survival skills, and had already learnt it was best not to react to each of Karthik’s remarks. Instead, he observed, ‘It has a nice ring to it, I think. It’s short and crisp, and yet very definitive. Very amicable, yet with just the right amount of authority…’
‘To speak like that, do you have to keep your balls squeezed all the time, or do you let go off them between sentences…?’
Within the hour, I was gulping down the last sip of my 3rd mug of beer. K2 was still talking.
‘…all I’m saying is that it needs to be regulated. Look at all the school shootings in US in the recent past. Yes, self defence warrants the access of weapons in certain situations, but the problem starts when it becomes an extension of your culture…’
I made a half-hearted attempt to join the dots and retrace the possible streams of consciousness between the quality of accommodation in state institutions, and gun licensing in the US, but I gave up, and decided my faculties would be better spent completing my paper plane instead.
‘Arre, chup kar yaar! Kab se chabad-chabad kare jaa raha hai,’ said Karthik, in a subtle attempt to steer the conversation in another direction. ‘Have you guys realised there are about 12 girls in all in our entire batch of 200 plus? Can we discuss that?! 12 girls,’ he repeated, ominously holding up four of his fingers. ‘Just my fucking luck. In my batch back in engineering college, <burp> do you know how many fucking girls were there? Huh?’
Surprisingly, none of us seemed to know how many sexually active girls were there in Karthik’s Engineering batch.
’Eleven. Can you fucking believe it? Some improvement, huh?’ He banged down his mug, spilling some of the beer. ‘With this face, what fucking chance do I have, huh?’
Having no siblings of the opposite sex, and being educated in an all-boys school, I was very acutely aware of the importance of girls for an all-round development of kids. Back in my childhood, the world wide web was still something you’d associate with giant tarantulas with plans of world domination, and sex education was too sensitive to be dealt with in school, and was outsourced to reliable publications like ‘Jawani ki Hawas’, and ‘Low-lita’. Naturally, till the age of 7, I was a subscriber of the Steady State Universe theory, which did away with any concept of procreation, and all human beings fell into the categories of Dad, Mom, boy, and that ‘weird guy who liked playing with miniature crockery’. You can imagine how my world-views went for a toss one fine day, and I sat open-mouthed for a good two hours, when at the age of 8, Varun, with a series of conspiratorial winks, pushed a copy of Debonair into my hands for ‘after-school’ perusal.
(To be continued)
Photograph Courtesy: © Rishi S