It was a March very much like this one. The sun was beginning to rise (with a little trouble) over the big thatched roof of the toddy shop. A little further from where he lay, the growing light revealed the bottom of a coconut tree, and the sleeping Kuriakose. The dog did not seem to care about day or night. He liked to sleep. And Kuriakose looked happy.
No matter how hard Boshimon tried, he couldn’t recollect the last few hours of the previous night. He was drunk. Magnificently drunk. More drunk – drunker than he had ever been before.
Boshimon was born black and it wasn’t his fault. He was on paper, the first day of his life on this world. His mother was sixty three, and grandmother of four. The world was amused. They laughed, and didn’t bother to turn the other way when they did. They laughed on his face – wet laughs – the ones that spray spittle from corners of paan stained crimson mouths. Boshimon, would wipe blobs of frothy liquid from his face and smile back. He had to live.
His grown-up siblings visited him once on the day he was born – or so he was told – with their children and all. He doesn’t remember seeing them, and he hoped they would come when the mother died. They did not.
He was twenty seven, and yet yesterday qualified as the first of his adult life, the first day when he could call the said life his own – when he could look the village in the face, without fear of them calling him his name. He had walked the fields and the well-trodden paths at a steady gait, greeting the old and the un-known. There was not a great deal he could think of to wish for. In the night, on his way out of the toddy shop, he would have danced down the deserted path if it was not for the fear of falling on his face. And yet he fell.
His blood had always attracted the fattest mosquitoes from far out in the kayal, and he had spent the night chasing them away until the breeze put him to sleep again. He was fanning himself frantically when he saw the big face above his own. “They bite like rabid dogs. So, you had the moolavetti, ey?” Sabu was squatting by his side, and had a toothbrush stuck into a corner of his mouth. The effects elicited by the two packs of illicit liquor were spewn all around him, but his otherwise strong sense of smell didn’t seem to take note.
Sabu too hated his father for his name. The girls in the fifth standard classroom had laughed when he had to introduce himself. And the rest of his academic life, everyone called him by his full name of Shehanshah Shahjahan. Why couldn’t they call him Sabu like everyone in the village? Sabu aimed, and spat in a projectile. The toothpaste foam splattered off the coconut tree base, scaring the chicken into another futile attempt at flight.
(to be continued..)