Presenting Part II of The Joker. Click here to read Part I.
November 24, 2004. Time – 06:40pm
After a whole day of attending lectures I was jostling through my wet hair with a towel wrapped around the waist when Ritika called.
“Hey Shona. How are you? Sorry I missed your call in afternoon”
“That’s okay Ritu. You won’t believe what happened to me today” I replied ecstatically.
“What, tell me”
“It was just so weird… I don’t know if you will understand”
“Oh Pratyush vomit it out”
“Ok listen. I went to pee, coz you know, I felt like peeing, but … not a single drop came out”
“Pratyuuuuuushhh I am gonna kill you”
“See I knew you wouldn’t understand. You had to be there … hahahaha … to understand … hahahahaha”
“Ha Ha Ha .. See I laughed, now no more pee poo jokes today”
“But there was no mention of …”
Ritika interrupted me “Shut up or the Saturday date is off”.
After a five-second-inspection Ritika continued “That’s like my shona”.
Another five seconds gone “Ohoo pratyush baba now you can speak. You have successfully secured the Saturday date”.
“Huff… Do you have any idea how hard it was to shut up?”
“I know… Okay tell me something. Why do you keep saying such lame things?”
“Because you laugh”
“No I rarely laugh on your silly puns”
“Yes you do” I stressed.
“No I don’t. When have you heard me laughing on your lame tales?”
“I haven’t but your little sister has. You almost always share my jokes with her at night and laugh like crazy”
“OH MY GOD. I can’t believe Simi sold our secret”
“Hu hu ha ha ha ha”
“How long have you known this?”
“… Umm … That I won’t tell” I replied mischievously.
“Hey mister you have to tell, otherwise …”
I interrupted “Otherwise what … you can’t cancel the Saturday date now. What else you got … You got nothing sweetie to blackmail me with”.
“Uuhhh …Somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad tonight” replied Ritika in Russel Peter’s accent.
“What you gonna do now?”
“I will have snacks and will start studying. Only twelve days before the first semester begins Ritu”
“Good boy. Mr. Rank holder has an image to maintain”
“Yep. What about you?”
“I don’t believe what I am about to say”
“What?” I was amused.
“I have to pee, you JOKER”
With the monstrous laugh we cut the call.
The next day Ritika killed herself. In our one year of relationship I never sensed the domestic violence until the story surfaced in a local newspaper. ‘Joker’ was forever tagged with her.
It took me almost a year to get out of the trauma. Only two sounds echoed in my mind – her childish-monstrous-laugh and the way she called me Joker, kind of like ‘mera Jokerrr’, just as they are buzzing in my mind right now.
Soon after the third semester I flew to Assam to visit my dearest cousin Vaibhav who was geared up to launch his dream project, his own e-retail store.
We had been underwear-brothers since the start of time, literally. He knew every bit of me better than me. One evening while sipping cold beer in an abandoned farm house, Vaibhav’s wisdomous / drunken speech, mimicking Batman changed my life.
“Pratyush, you see, this city had lost all its innocence long back. It has seen enough, suffered irreplaceable losses, yet it never shies away in mesmerizing people with its scenic beauty.
Shouldn’t we all learn something from the city?
I know you are hurt brother. Ritika was a keeper, one pure soul.
She never hinted any sorrow, despite everything that she had to face Every Single Day. All she ever radiated was happiness and laughter and love and joy and … all that is positive … in spite of the constant internal struggle.
You should carry on that sane Jokerpanti and spread more smiles around dude. I believe it would be a better way to remember her than staying grungy. This world needs laughter bro and you can be the source.
You can be the Joker of people’s lives without … you know … actually having to wear the red blob nose”
By the time I returned to Kolkata, my cocoon had evaporated releasing the bat wings once again. I was again the knight in shining armour (read teeth) for the depressed souls.
Vaibhav had become my mentor but his term didn’t last long.
On April 25, 2006 a rash driver ran over Vaibhav, silently pushing me back into shell.
………………..To Be Continued