Connaught Circus. I had supper with an aged narc who was my friend during that season. The restaurant was striking with teal windows on either side. This dining assuetude was something I emulated from my good buddy A.S. When I reached down the street, it was dark and the narc went his own way… A gentleman in the shadows. He was drunk and stumbled on my path and while vaulting up, abused me as if it were my mistake he fell on my track . A very sordid phrase if my memory is right . I knocked him down with a hard one on his left cheek. He stumbled and drooped again. That was how I was taught in the village. If somebody abuses you, offer a blow. While rising up from the ground, he uttered smilingly that there is perhaps another way of reacting.
The gentleman further informed that he has a story to tell . In the interim , presented himself-‘ I am so and so, the raconteur’. We shook hands and parted.
I saw him again ,one early afternoon at Mohan Singh’s Place and he asked me while I was worrying about our serendipitous meeting. “Do you have fifty bucks to spare?. I had no lunch”. I said- ‘Sure. But, what will you give me back?’. I was very matter of fact in those days and in the prime of youth. With a sentiment of general nonchalance that was my run of the mill air.
“I will tell you a story”, the raconteur said. I gave him fifty rupees , and he rendered the story…
“Sometime in the distant past-There was a king ruling in a dust bowl land.” I interrupted-” I think, I have heard this story before” .He susurrated- ” This is a different story.”
And took my permission to depart saying, “Pardon me,I am ravenous “.And with a splitting guarantee ,continued- “I will finish the story later.” No big surprise, I didn’t see him in the following two years, in that huge city.
One fine day I was with a companion walking around the B.J.Park.
Here I met him again.He outdistanced me from behind and halted in front . In a blunt accent, put in –
“Do you have another hundred rupees?” I gave him that sum exclusively to impress my new companion with whom I was strolling.
The friend either imagined that I was very generous or foolish.But I didn’t get further statistics on that issue. In the wake of accepting the cash he said- “Where did we stop?”
And began portraying a couple of lines and stated, the Black Minorca or open sesame, Electra’s anagnorisis, or something relevant or irrelevant. Then he ogled at my friend. “I am busy”, he said and went.
A couple of years passed. I met him inadvertently on a beach in the South. I needed to take several minutes to remember him. “You have transformed”, I said. “You as well “, he said.
Now, he began narrating the rest of the story. “The Prince turned into a man. He wedded a princess from another nation. Also, he went to another nation to grow the fringes. His peripeteia..The third stasimon… “. Things like that. This time I was more interested in him than the story.
“Would we be able to meet tomorrow evening”, he inquired. “”Sure- what time?” I inquired. “Evening, around this time,” he said.
The waves were colossal and the breeze was brackish.
Precisely on the time proposed, he arrived.
“If it’s not too much trouble,disclose to me the remaining part of your story-I requested.
“Much obliged for giving me your time”, he was extra courteous.
Then said- ‘You are the story’.