“What the hell Kabir! ” I burst out in anger.
“I thought you knew the way. It’s been an hour since we are driving around this forested road. Do you really know the way to that pork place?” I questioned.
“Dude, it’s near a tribal Bodo village. But it’s somewhere nearby for sure. I remember last time I came here with Aman bhaiya and his friends.” Kabir tried to explain himself but I couldn’t control my frustration.
” Idiot ! Yet you don’t know the way. Such clumsy irresponsible person. Kabir you have always been the same. Then, now ,always! “.
“Cool down ! You are overreacting” Dhruv intervened.
A sudden brake and Kabir brought the car to a sudden halt. Stopped the engine, removed the key and slammed the door to climb out of the car. “See that huge rock at the top? I am going there to calm myself and smoke a cigarette. And Fuck you both! ” With that words of anger Kabir went away leaving me and Dhruv in the car.
” You went too far” Dhruv turned back at me.
“What should we do now? Follow him?” I asked.
“Ofcourse you dumbhead!” Dhruv pulled me out of the car.
Climbing the rock was difficult for me. Last time I came here was when I was in my teens. These place is known for its huge rocks, shaped in the form of an elephant’s back. Mostly inhabited by local tribals but time has turned it into a weekend getaway for urbanites. Specially due to the sprouting resorts around the area. More than anyone, Kabir knew this place better. His father as a Forest Range Officer was posted here. But their family had to later shift to the city when his father was accused of a timber smuggling scam. Kabir says, infact firmly believes his father was falsely accused. I blindly agreed what Kabir believed. But was he? It has taken me years of maturity to understand it objectively. Kabir is my friend and deep inside I want my prejudiced believe to be the truth. This brings a sense of self belief within Kabir. Sometimes deception of a lie can give greater peace than the purity of truth itself.
I was sweating like a pig under the hot afternoon sun. The cold breeze was my only saviour.
“I guess I have gained some weight Dhruv”.
“I bet you do” Dhruv agreed.
” Is Kabir furious on me? “.
” He is going through some tough times. It’s complex. ” Dhruv tried to explain.
“The family thing?”
“Perhaps, the roots of his mind go deeper”. Dhruv and his mysterious replies. I decided that it was better to be silent.
And there he is, Kabir – “The lord of the smoke ring” as Dhruv mocked him. Indeed he was, shining like a prince, sun rays running its fingers over his bare face. I went and sat next to Kabir. Dhruv pointed at the far horizon “Look there is a river! “. Both Kabir and I ignored him with silence. Dhruv went on to stare at the distant scenary in solitude.
“Kabir, don’t smoke. It’s bad for health” I spoke in a casual low tone. Kabir burst out in laughter.
“Yes genius, I didn’t know that. Thanks for letting me know.” Kabir replied in obvious sarcasm.
“Then why do you smoke? Why should we do something that we know would harm us? ” I defended.
“You are still the virtuous ass. Aren’t you?” Kabir continued “Remember the first time we bunked school?”
“Yes I do.” I nodded.
“You felt guilty about it and confessed to Pandey Sir. He was furious and gave two unforgettable slaps each and we were made to stand infront of the staff room whole day.”
” I can’t forget that day” I replied with a nostalgic smile.
“Why did u do that? You knew that confessing to Sir would harm us. Yet you did something that you know would harm.”
“I don’t know” I replied.
“That is why I smoke. I don’t know. I just need to.” Kabir explained.
Though I had plenty of arguments in my defence, I choose not to present them. Because I understood what Kabir meant. I understood what Kabir wanted me to learn. Humans are weird. We do stuff for incentives and call it our job. We do stuff without incentives and call it our passion. We do stuff that has disincentives, it harms. What should we call it? Addiction? Humans are irrational, humans are complex. She – my only love, was my irrationality. Love was my addiction. That day, standing infront of the staff room as punishment, I saw her the first time. I fell in love with her later. I can’t forget that day, not because I was punished for being honest but I was rewarded with love for it.
To be continued …