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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Bullshit Story ?


‘Are you OK babuji?’  a tight knot  of vegetable vendors surrounded  Golok Babu as he lay sprawled over a pile of potatoes.

‘Throw some water over his face’, shouted one. ‘I cannot see his face, help me turn him around’, shouted another as he tried to turn Golok Babu, who lay face down on the pile.  The heaving sent him rolling down the pile of rounded tubers - the limp form glided down the heap and stopped against the sack of cauliflowers stacked at the back of the mud and straw vegetable shack.

Abe Bhaag!! Saand vapas aa raha hai!’ (Run!! The Bull is coming back!) The loud shout ended the humanitarian activity in the busy corner of “Budhwari Bazaar” – the weekly farmer’s market that congregated every Wednesday on an open ground next to the Government Intermediate School of the sleepy little town of Rampur. 

The vendors left their wares and dispersed as the big bull charged down the muddy lane of the Bazaar. Golok babu stirred slightly as the sound of the mud squelching hoofs came closer and closer…

****

There were seven farmer markets scattered around the town of Rampur, one for each day of the week.  Golok babu sometimes found it confusing as he had to recall what day of the week it was, before heading out the appropriate market. His job as the manager of the busy petrol pump and automobile service station, did not give him time to reflect upon what day of the week it was. Every day was equally mundane and boring – except Sunday, which was his only day off in the week and the day when he partied with his friends.

‘Why can’t they setup a permanent farmer’s market’, he fumed as he waded through the muddy slush from rainfall that occurred last night, clutching on to his big jute bag with bamboo reinforced handles.  

‘Bull Shit!’, he muttered under his breath as he maneuvered around a big bull that was sitting calmly on the middle of the muddy road. The black bull with a brown hump on its back, was chewing cud calmly as its glassy eyes gazed into a distance. The Bull turned its head lazily towards Golok babu as he jumped over a puddle, holding up the trousers of his tight Safari Suit, rolling up the big red jute back tightly under his arm.

His wife Savita had bought the bag especially for Golok Babu from Belgachchia when she had gone to visit her sister in Calcutta.’ He always loses his shopping bag ’, she had complained to her sister. ‘Why don’t you get him a brightly colored one – that will be easy to spot … even in a crowded bazaar?’

Golok Babu was bent over picking up medium size Haldwani potatoes from the big pile in front of him when the commotion broke out. Amidst screams and yells, the sound of mid squelching hoofs got louder and louder. Bang! The Bull’s horns grazed Golok Babu’s buttocks, barely missing it, as it’s forehead whacked into its target. Golok Babu went flying head on right into the pile of shiny yellow potatoes.

****

Golok Babu had just turned forty last Sunday. He had a small party at his home, attended by his close friends. ‘You don’t look forty at all’, his best friend’s wife squealed handing Golok a wrapped present. It was a tee shirt that said “It is all downhill from here”. She and her husband had laughed in glee imagining Golok’s face when he would open the gift.

‘It is the black hair’, Golok beamed flicking his dyed hair, ‘I got it from my grandfather’, he lied as his grandfather ashes squirmed in their resting place in the bank of river Ganges. Golok put up his best mock laugh that would put “Gabbar Singh” to shame as he opened the gift and showed the tee shirt around.

‘He was promoted yesterday’, Savita said beaming to the guests, who feigned a polite smile. ‘He is the General Manager now!’. The guests had to try harder to retain their smile – their hosts were really making them work today.

The fact was that Golok babu had been doing exactly the same work for the last ten years which was basically making sure that the workers of the petrol pump did not sleep at work and maintained their fear of getting fired.  ‘Bull Shit’, Golok Babu would roar in his squeaky voice to an erring service man.

‘Bull Shit’, he would roar again to a dozing pump operator, before slipping back into his air-conditioned office and dreaming about what he would have for dinner.

Every three years or so, the owner of the petrol pump would come up with an innovative designation and announce it in front of the grumpy staff wearing dirty overalls. The people at work hardly cared about the designation change – at least from the bigger scheme of things about getting work done. Neither did Golok babu care whether these people cared or not. Strangely, the people who he really cared about if they cared about his designation were the guests he met at the Sunday parties.  

****

The sound of hoofs stopped suddenly. Golok Babu turned around, the potatoes digging into his aching buttocks. The hustle, bustle and commotion had strangely dissolved into an eerie silence. Then it happened. The big black bull widened it's snout before opening up its lips to show a row of blackened teeth causes by years of cud-chewing. It spoke.

‘Do you even know what Bull Shit means?’, the squeaky voice was grossly out of place. Besides the fact that your don’t expect a Bull to speak, say if it did - you would  expect it to sound something like Simba’s dad in  Lion King, or in the worst case like the donkey in Shrek. This one sounded like Mickey Mouse!

‘You said Bull Shit when you passed me at the entrance of the farmers market ...’ the Bull continued.

Golok babu looked at the Bull with a dazed expression. ‘It is a hhhabit’, he squeaked ‘I say it all the time…’

‘ But do you know what it means?’

Golok did not know how to respond to that question. His brain told him to answer the question with specifics about the etymological origin of the slang - how it originated in England, its close cousin “Bollocks” and how he had picked it up at college and had used it frequently since then.

His smarting bottom told him otherwise. 

‘Let me tell you what it means’, The Bull sat down on the muddy path in front of the vegetable shack and plucked a bunch of radishes that had been neatly arranged in front of the vegetable shack with their green leaves sprawled like a headrest for the shiny white roots. He finished chomping as Golok babu watched in silence.

‘It means saying half truths to impress others’, The Bull gave a quick snort as he wagged its tail to smack an ant that was climbing up his muddy rear. ‘They taught us in Bull Shit 101. Can’t become a Bull until you clear the course …’ , he added with pretentious humility. The Bull then lowered his neck and wiggled his hump. ‘Bull Shit has a significant strategic importance for us ‘, he said in a lowered voice, quickly glancing around him.

‘We the Bulls of the world are really counting on you humans to restore us back to the fame we had in the past. Those were the days - companion of Lord Siva, a whole constellation to ourselves’, the Bull sighed, ‘We are counting on the affinity of the human race for Bull Shit to make that happen again’ the bull looked straight into Golok Babu’s eyes.

“I do it all the time Mr. Bull’, Golok was quick to spot an opportunity ‘Saying half truths to impress others …’ , He boasted offering the Bull a leafy bunch of spinach, ‘I don’t stop even there, when there is no one around …  I Bull Shit to myself’, he added in a lowered voice.

‘Good’, the Bull said breaking the eye contact ‘Super. That is how it should be. It starts with you and before we know families, societies, town, cities and countries start bullshitting to each other. The entire world drenched in the sweet smell of bullshit’, The bull grabbed another bunch of radish and started chewing it slowly.

 ‘Out of all the people that you could have goaded with your wise head – why did you choose me?’, Golok babu could finally muster the courage to ask the question that has been sifting through his mind.

‘I can’t say ... I spotted something …’

‘It is was the red shopping bag – wasn’t it?’

‘No – not that’, The bull replied lazily ‘It was your red underwear that is showing through your ripped suit’

Golok babu sprang on to his feet and examined the big rip in his favorite suit. The suit that had gotten tighter over the years as the dinners he dreamed about during his work piled up in his body. The white suit had become off white after years of work and Sunday parties.

The pant of the safari suit was torn right along his buttocks showing his red underwear !

The End

4 comments:

BEG said...

Is there ever an end to Bullshit? Very nice detailed piece with a good sense of humor and punny :-)

Anonymous said...

Frankly, Banne bullshit is the order of the day for most of us. We do it all the time, without thinking twice in our mundane lives. It would be worthwhile if we could find sometime out of the daily bullshit and be our own selves for a few moments. Nice narrative and underpinning theme.. keep going. You need to, however, qualify bulshit 101 to make it comprehensible to non technocrats

Varsha said...

Very nice narrative of a small town scene.I could visualize it. Quite an interesting story,told simply.Well done!

triloki nagpal said...

Very imaginative and wonderful as all your other posts.
Keep it up.

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