Broke and proud.
India is a developing nation. India is growing up. India (probably) owes the World Bank a lot of money.
“Bro, I am just like India. World Bank is just like my Dadaji- whom I can’t ask for money anymore!” I turned around in exasperation and glared. Tried one of those smoldering-anger-stares at him. Brad Pitt-esque.
“Bro, why are you squinting? You look like a baboon only.”
I asked him whether he had some money on him for dinner at least. We usually woke up late so that breakfast and lunch could be gelled together (also saving toothpaste).
“Bro, are you even listening? I am done. I was done a week back in fact.” That explained why my wallet is empty today. Wait. Didn’t he have a girlfriend?
“Bro, can’t call her. It was either her birthday or our anniversary … or something else the day before. I forgot”
So that’s all? Like, they were done? What about true love and…
“Bro, she’ll do just fine when the salary comes. We are soul mates.”
Empty plates, empty jars, empty almirahs and an empty head for company. Just my luck.
“Bro, can’t you cook or something?”
Yeah for that, one needs ingredients and flour and sugar or something… Alright, I didn’t get time to learn cooking anyway. Big deal.
“Bro, I think we will starve till the beginning of the month. A week to go- after that we’ll be good.”
Definitely. Mahatma Gandhi survived three weeks of complete starvation, I tell him.
“Bro obviously. Independence aise free mein thodi diya tha hum logon ko!”
I give up.
I am literally penniless. I didn’t miss TV after a month. Clean water-that was a tough one. AC was out of the question. As a matter of fact, we’d decided to cut out the electricity after a while. “Bro, Simple living and all that Buddha stuff”-he’d told the landlord. Don’t think he bought it.
The pangs of working for a startup were showing clearly. I tossed him the newspaper and asked him to cover the hole on the roof.
Initially, I thought it was fancy having sunlight seeping in and all, but lately I hated that hole in the roof. I had gotten used to the dark ambience. Light coming in was disturbing my equilibrium. Goddamn, hole! It stood for everything that was wrong in my life.
I did have a considerable number of choices, but that was a while back. I had chosen my path, but I hadn’t worked to my potential.
Sure I could have tried. That was long ago- so long ago, and now there’s nothing. Absolutely nothing. My life was like my roof and this inability to step up was like that goddamn hole- it was getting bigger and it was consuming me from the inside.
There was a sudden knock on the door. He stood up to open it.
Some guy walks in – “Hey, do you guys have a kettle?” I pointed to a dusty corner of the room and closed my eyes.
“Bro, what do you need it for?”
“Arreh, the coffee-wala across the road was just about to throw away a carton of Maggi. Ban ho gaya na, issilye! Do you want some? We have like hundreds.”
Amidst jumping up to grab a plate and rushing out of the room, I looked up at the hole on the roof and smiled. Another week. I’ll get my salary and then the hole will do just fine. Us two- the hole and I – maybe we are soul mates too.
Photography By: Sumit Thakur