Ranjit was visiting his cousin. His niece was a difficult girl but had always been fond of him. He didn’t boast many skills, but having a stabilizing effect on his niece was one of them. It was with little hesitation and great relief then, that his cousin asked him to accompany Riya to her parent-teacher meeting.
“SlapJack strikes again!” Vipin hurries to squat next to Ranjit. The two read the news about the recently active ‘SlapJack’ of New Delhi – a white guy slapping pedestrians who cross roads without adhering to traffic norms and rules. He holds a Jack of Clubs in his slapping hand, which is often imprinted on the victims’ cheeks, inducting them into the Club of Jack.
Ranjit liked birthday celebrations, especially ones he was invited to. Once he had been convinced to crash a birthday bash, much like he had heard people crash weddings. It had ended up being a bash, just not the kind young Ranjit had in mind.
The sound of flush loudened. Ranjit was sitting at the chabudai sipping his morning tea when Vipin came out of the bathroom.
“I sure am using my right hand an awful lot these days!” he said. Ranjit paused with teapot in hand and looked at his flatmate with knitted eyebrows. It was not the sort of conversation starter he would expect from Vipin. He cleared his throat and resumed pouring tea for his flatmate.
The aroma of samosas sauntered up his nose as Ranjit turned the corner near the local sweet shop. He smiled. His sister was to visit him and she loved freshly made jalebis. But he was smiling because he knew he could munch on a couple samosas while waiting for a fresh batch of jalebis.
Although he knew what he wanted, there was one going through a decisional crisis, his face tenser than a bomb squad member’s.
Ranjit has a history of waking up in bizarre places. Most of those instances were from childhood when he used to live in the village. While other kids have tales of falling asleep in school during class or exams, Ranjit can recount tales of waking up on the back of a walking bull, on top of a slowly rotating ceiling fan, and on a bicycle going downhill. For the longest time, he thought he was a somnambulist. It was years later that he learned it was his cousins’ doing.
Many people are afraid of mice. Ranjit isn’t one of them. So when a mouse came scampering towards him as he parked his motorcycle in his apartment complex, he wasn’t worried. Surprised, but unworried.
Many people detest cats. Ranjit isn’t one of them. But when a cat pounced on him right after the mouse scurried up his leg under his trousers, he was a bit worried. Surprised, and worried.
It was my first day of interviewing patients at the mental institute. The sign outside the door said ‘Bullet for My Valentine’.
“A heavy metal band,” said the ward boy accompanying me.
“But why is that written under ‘Artist of the Day’?”
“The patient behind that door can only speak through song lyrics,” came the response in an incredulous voice. The ward boy couldn’t believe the absurdity behind my question. I was amazed that despite having worked in the facility for years he could still be struck by absurdity at all.
Winters had overstayed their welcome, and summer, aware that it was late to the party, had rushed on with twice its usual vigour. The sultry air had stripped trees of their leaves. A new covering was due, and Ranjit, in a bid to follow suit, visited his barber for a regular haircut. But routine chores and events hardly ever enfold in a regular fashion for him.
Bhavna watched incredulously as her neighbour produced a snakes and ladders board and placed the two pieces at the starting point. The fact that he was serious about playing board games as opposed to going out on a date made her question how on Earth had she developed romantic feelings for him. But then she saw his eyes lift sheepishly to meet her penetrating gaze, and his cheeks flush and puff. She could never stay mad at that face. Stupid cute baby face, she thought as she smiled.