A slightly weird thing happened yesterday. There’s a place I go for my Math tuitions, to a Formula 1 race-car who happens to look like a human being. His lessons whiz by above your head, or, if you are good, slightly lower. Nevertheless, you’ll never know what hit you when he’s done.
It was evening. I reached at around half-past five, an hour early like I usually do, for a very uninteresting reason, and as I sat outside on a bench on the lawn inside the complex, solving some problems, I noticed a few little kids, nine to eleven years of age, playing around. There were three girls who’d climbed a low wall and were waving sticks as long as themselves at the boughs of a tree in the hope of procuring a fuzzy yellow flower. They had discovered that the sticks were short, had asked an aged person to pick the flower for them, who couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, and wouldn’t go so far as to reveal whether he really could or not.
If you’ve figured out the last sentence, let’s continue. The girls put on a very businesslike manner and set off searching for some ropes to tie two sticks together. Good, good, I smiled to myself. I always loved these little projects I kept on doing all the time when I was younger. A brilliant idea, a spur of enthusiasm, then all lost in the stream of something else I found more engaging.
There were two boys about the same age as the girls, who had got themselves sticks too, and presumably they were beating them against the trunk of the tree, for I heard one of the girls tell them in a very bossy way that it hurts the tree and so if he could please stop it. I support her, of course, but at that moment her reprimand sounded really amusing to me.
One of the boys was thinner than the other, and the fatter one had huge round glasses. The thinner boy started mocking the girl in a very funny way. It was really funny, blimey.
Then their activities subsided a little and I resumed my work.
Some time later I found the fatter boy standing by the side of the bench on which I was perched. I looked up. He was looking down at what I was doing. His face was smooth, his glasses surrounding his eyes from all sides, like a pair of goggles. There was a slight blue tinge to them. I asked him where he lived. He didn’t reply. I asked him if he lived here. No reply. I asked him which flat he lived in. He pointed vaguely at a direction over my shoulder. I remembered that the first and most necessary question is usually to ask the most unnecessary question of all, the name, and I asked him that. He said Shushant, not in a Bengali accent. He didn’t seem particularly focused at me, and was gazing at the copies on the bench. I asked him which school he studied in. he said Kendriya Vidyalaya, in a definite non-Bengali accent. I asked him if it was a good school. A nod. I asked him if he had friends. He shook his head. Taken aback, I asked again, ‘You don’t have any friends in school?’ He shook his head again. Then very suddenly, he gave a jump, said ‘Goodbye’ simultaneously, and walked away.
I said ‘Ta ta.’
That was weird, wasn’t it?