From the moment I set eyes on him, everything was wrong. His glossy purple striped shirt. His inexcusably tight pants. His face which uncannily reminded me of things I had learnt to forget. His in your face rudraksh mala wound around his wrist. Yes everything was very wrong with LL.
He had the emotional bandwidth of a doorknob, so obsessed with himself was he that he thought the horizon ended at his upturned nose. Every sentence began with a crib and ended in a tragic ‘i-am-so-unlucky’ whimper. Perseverance was a word he didn’t recognize, self absorption peppered with unflattering quantities of self pity was his specialty and he actually thought being courteous wasn’t in fashion. He had that irritating way of pronouncing twelve as “twel”, licking his chapped lips in quick obnoxious flicks of the tongue. One day, confronted with an exceptionally spectacular view of Kinnaur’s mighty mountains, we were collectively sighing at the scenic beauty. Later, a very worried harrassed LL said, “Arre itna sunder tha ki mein dekhta hi reh gaya. Photo toh kheench hi nahi paya. Faltu ho gaya.” That, in all its pathetic glory, sums up LL’s depth as a person.
Two months after LL’s torturous company, he decided to be generous to his surroundings and resigned. I thought I’d be delighted and for some blissful days I actually was. But as the last few days of his tenure cam to an end, a disturbingly comfortable camaraderie sprung up between us. We actually caught ourselves laughing with each other (that, in my understanding, is the hugest indicator of compatibility), devouring innumerable thaalis at our favourite Dhaba in Tapri (its this tiny place sandwiched between - A One Tailors, Golden Star Jammu Tailors and Meena Tailors), having impromptu drinking parties, listening to music (we discovered some songs that both of us liked).
Of course there were spouts of irritation that made their presence felt. His idiotic ideas surfaced from time to time (eg. I ordered an omlette on a Tuesday and LL instantly springs up, “Mangalvaar ko anda? Kya tum bhagwaan mein vishwaas nahin rakhti?” The connection between a cooked egg and god that he grasped so easily was completely lost on me.). He still walks with an irritating swagger. Still speaks terrible English with his call centre accent. Still does not bother who’s walking behind him and just slams doors in his wake, makes alarming noises while eating, talks so loudly that embarrassment makes you resemble a beetroot.
Yes he’s all that but something more too. The last few days with LL showed me that. Situations. Moods. Perspective. They do weird things to your convictions.
PS: He was sitting around as I was scribbling and asked, “Kya kahani bana rahi ho?”
“Woh kya hota hai?”
I knew my story was safe.