The Narrator

  

                                                                        

                               SIX

 

When I tell the story of Baddy's first (s)exploit, friends are wont to rile me. "You couldn't have chosen a better rite of passage for yourself--to be initiated into adulthood by the sex-goddess Rekha herself!" What was the point of replying to such taunts?
Baddy had followed Rekha's career right from the Sawan Bhado days.
She used to be plump and ugly then, oodles of baby fat shimmering inside a tight bodice. Besides, she was also dark and plain. I still remember her posters splashed all over the walls of my school--right over the `Stick no Bills' signs--her artless eyes of sixteen smiling with uncontrived glee. A few years, lots of tits, and hits later, she became an established heroine. Far from being stupid or silly, she actually gave very sensible interviews. I liked her best in the mid to late 1970's. Those days I thought of her as a most unaffected person, without hang-ups and and the usual filmi hypocrisies. Her affair with Kiran Kumar was an open secret, pictures of them together splashed all over Stardust.
Then God knows what happened to her suddenly. She transformed herself into a Marilyin Monroe-like figure, mysterious, elusive, and completely contrived. A creature of make up and gloss, a well-crafted image. She became secretive and hid herself behind her extensive collection of designer dark glasses. She shielded herself from the prying press. Overnight, she seemed to have become a classy, high-priestess of some secret and mysterious cult.
Though Rekha, the heartthrob of millions, must have entered the dreams of several of her fans, my friends insist upon the improbability of the Baddy episodes. "What's all this goody and baddy stuff?" they say, "it's too damn unreal, too symmetrical, too pat. How can you be so good and he so bad? It just doesn't sound convincing."
I decided to reply the only way I know how to--by telling a story.
Once upon a time, a group of friends found themselves travelling together from their suburb to the big city for an evening of pleasure. One of them, who was a writer, especially excited the curiosity of the others. Usually, he spent all his time reading or writing. In fact, he had agreed to come with them with utmost reluctance, after hours of persuasion. Even during the train ride, he refused to talk to the others. Instead, he made notes, from time to time, in the margins of book he was
reading. You wouldn't have been able to find a greater spoilsport.
To draw him out one of his friends offered him a cigarette. He politely refused, saying he didn't smoke.
Then after a while, another passed around his packet of Pan Parag, the scented betel-nut powder. Again, he declined politely.
After a while, a waiter from the pantry car arrived, with a tray of tea. While the others helped themselves, the writer, still glued to his book, waved him away.
He did the same when the coffee-wallah and the cold drinks-wallah came.
Then, to pass the time, his friends began to play cards--for nominal stakes. They invited him to join in, but yet again, he demurred.
On reaching their destination, the men decided first to have a drink. So they entered a bar. But the writer in their midst refused to salute Bacchus.
Then, feeling good, they went to a cabaret. The writer said that he wasn't interested. They had to literally drag him in. In the dim, smoke-filled room, they sat on the edges of their seats, ogling at gyrating bodies of women in various stages of undress. All of them, that is, except the writer, who with a severe frown on his face, sat in a corner, behind a pillar, squinting into his book. Until one of the dancers saw him and went and sat on his lap.
At dinner,the writer continued his abstemious and obstinate patter of behaviour. He stuck to vegetarian food, while the others feasted themselves on tandoori chicken and vindaloo curry.
Later, they wandered into a brothel to pick up one or two women to complete their evening's entertainment.
By now the writer was the only sober person among them. He realized that he had better stick to his friends and make sure they reached home safely. He suggested that he wait outside the brothel, holding on to their extra money, while they went inside for their jollies.
But this suggestion was met by a roar of protest. The writer found his drunken friends dragging him into the house of sin. Finally, he agreed to go with them as long as he was allowed to abstain from sex.
This was too much for the others. They advanced upon him and remonstrated: "You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't eat any meat, you don't play cards, you don't fornicate...what sort of man are you? You must have some vice, some indulgence else you wouldn't be human."
The writer felt cornered. He looked at his friends and said, "I'll admit that I don't do any of the above things, but I do have a vice."
"What is it?" his friends asked eagerly.
"Well, I tell lies," the writer replied.

 
  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape