GAY AND HAPPY (CHAPTER 10 OF continuing fiction “A FAIR AFFAIR”)
By Neel Anil Panicker
As a child Aman never ever fancied school and by that extension its teachers.
He had an aversion bordering on sheer hatred for all those men, and quite a few women, of letters; those all knowing types who walked around the Earth, barging into sundry inane conversations and into peoples’ drawing rooms, espousing forth on all matters earthly and quite a few unearthly, showering invaluable pears of sheer wisdom on their less gifted brethren, the poor deprived and depraved have nots of this world.
Over the years Aman had become something of an expert at spotting one of their ilk from a far distance. All of them strutted through life with their heads held high above their jaunty ‘don’t mess with me’ thick rimmed spectacled faces that sat smugly under heavily lined foreheads, their usually frail bodies perpetually on bent mode__thanks to a lifetime spent waltzing in and out of in high roofed forbidding university lecture halls and/or inside heavily sanitized libraries roughly the size of two football fields and all as silent and grim much like as a newly constructed graveyard still waiting for its first ever client.
The only twin thoughts that ruptured through his mind when he chanced upon one such species (though sighting one was something absolutely unfathomable in his line of business) was one of awe and the other a natural corollary to that__respect.
Visually these two emotions peeked out from his unlettered brain and what played out was the uninspiring imagery of greying, emaciated homosapiens with their backs perennially bent and their manic eyes riveted on books that were thicker than the thickest triple decker butter chicken sandwhiches that were sold at downtown Venky’s, the ‘oh so populated’ fast food joint that stood bang outside his own humble watering hole, as if in grand defiance, its glitzy all red neon-lit signage blazing out pretty much unashamedly the varied and veritable gastronomical wares that it offered, not quite unlike the gaudily dressed women of easy virtue that peopled the streets come nightfall in this ‘city that never sleeps’.
During the highly constricted non-peak hours, especially during those very lazy afternoons when barring the odd ‘die hard’ customer who sat quietly at a corner table gently nursing his drink, and when his usually busy staff of waiters and cooking staff would repair to the kitchen and lie down on whatever flat surface they could lay their backs on, Aman__sitting behind the counter in his high stooled chair__ would find himself travelling back in time, to his childhood, to his school, and to his teacher, to more specifically his English teacher, the ever smiling Jose Mathew Sir, who during his short tenure of two years taught him a lot of things other than English, which was his forte and which anyways he was tasked meant to teach.
“You have very beautiful hands,”.
Mr Mathew had a way with words.
To a nine year old born to unschooled parents and living in a remote back of beyond rag tag village shorn of electricity and potable drinking water, coming to school daily was a big boon, a God sent opportunity that he lapped up with both hands even if that meant traversing on foot a good ten kilometres; a six days a week daily commute which meant walking to and fro past a near non-existent mud road to the only school that existed in the entire village.
And all this effort for what? To get himself an education as desired by his parents.
The icing on the cake: the blessed opportunity to hear and be in close proximity to his favourite ‘Mathew Sir’.
The way he spoke, giving due stress, weightage and stretch to every single syllabic sound as he explained on the board, chalk in hand, in meticulous detail, his large hairy hands running through all the alphabetic letters; diving and delving deep into the rich repository of the English language as he mixed and matched, expertly joining and forming them into new hitherto unknown words and phrases and even idioms; all this in his very own rich, baritone timbre__the words tumbling out, in slow motion, off his full mouth ala a beautifully choreographed dance drama being watched in awed suspension by a sold out audience of afficionados.
Unfortunately, Mr Mathew could weave his magic around his eager beaver bunch of kids for just under a year, and when the next school term commenced a highly impressionable Aman found himself shorn of the warmth and love of his favourite teacher, and so began his descent into hell as far as studies were concerned.
Poor Aman somehow stumbled through two more terms_his mind and body unable to come to terms with this huge ‘tragedy’ in his life_ before he finally threw in the towel, thus effectively and conclusively putting an end to any scholarly aspirations that had even begun to sprout in his innocent heart.
The only good thing to come out of this insertion, albeit brief, of ‘Mathew Sir’ in little Aman’s life was that it had managed to instill in the young lad a deep attachment towards men, especially men who were kindly and well mannered and who had large hands, hands that were hairy and probing, that could run all over his body and under his pants the way Mathew Sir’s hands went every time the two canoodled, sitting together long past school hours, closetted inside a corner room tucked away in the far corner of the largely uninhabited library room.
“Turn over, I want to come from the back,” commanded the voice, still slurred thanks chiefly to the second full bottle of ‘Celebrations ‘ that had gone down its owner’sthroat.
Like an obedient slave much beholden to its master, Aman shifted over, releasing his hold on firm buttocks, buttocks of a man twenty years his senior, buttocks of a certain man whom he had providentially met barely a week ago.
The paradoxical wheels of life had once again turned around and dear old Aman was living through one of them. Mathew Sir had come alive in his arms this time reincarnated as Professor Raghav Acharya.