Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The disengagement

This is the 5th story in the Bata Thatha series. The earlier ones are here.

It was a glorious morning at the Marina. The sun was behind a cloud cover, the breeze was gentle and the sea had taken on that magical tinge of silvery blue. The Walkie-Talkies were thoroughly enjoying their leisurely stroll in the lovely weather so unusual for Chennai..

On the beach sands, a bunch of kids was engrossed in a game of rubber-ball cricket. A bowler had just accounted for a batsman, as was evident from his wild gestures, saliva-spitting and fist-pumping.

‘What’s with kids these days?” commented Polo T-shirt. “Why do they need to be so vocal and demonstrative? Why all this posturing and sabre-rattling? Back when we used to play, we would, at the most, clap our hands at the fall of a wicket, no more”.

“The fact is ”, remarked Nike Shorts, “, kids are taught, from kindergarten, to be aggressive and to develop that killer instinct. Absence of these traits is viewed as a sign of serious weakness.”

“I don’t understand the hype, one bit. After all, it is just a game”, chipped in Adidas track-pants.

“For old fossils like you and me,” said Bata Thatha, intervening in the absorbing debate, “cricket may be just a game, but for members of GenNext, it’s war out there. As Nike Shorts commented, the tendency to go for the jugular is instilled in children from an early stage, that when they grow up, they are constantly seen with war-paint on, yelling out blood-curdling battle cries. Those that don’t conform to this prescribed behaviour, fall by the wayside. Take the case of Geeta and Hari……”

“Did they both go around with war paint on”, enquired Nike Shorts.

“Not both. Only she did. That was the problem. But let me start from the beginning.”

My wife’s niece, Geeta, (said Bata Thatha) like many young girls of the current generation, works hard and plays hard. She exudes raw energy and packs in quite a bit of aggression, which she says is necessary if one has to succeed in life in general and sports in particular.

On the other hand, Hari, to whom she got engaged to early this year, is reserved, exasperatingly cool, believes that Life must be absorbed in small doses and that nothing is worth working up a sweat over.

A case of two dissimilar poles attracting each other, but we know that Cupid plays such pranks quite often.

All went well till about a month back or, to be more precise, till the day India won the Twenty20 World Cup. Over dinner, the next evening, Geeta declared, in that authoritative tone of hers, that Yuvraj Singh was the greatest cricketer the world had ever seen or was likely to see. “What aggression, what hitting” she exclaimed. Whereupon, Hari, without removing his eyes from the menu card that he was reading, remarked casually that, surely, that was too effusive a praise and there was no need to go overboard. He also volunteered the opinion that Geeta ought to view these games with some degree of detachment and not get emotionally entangled and, that too, with such fearsome intensity.

Dismissing this as a typical viewpoint of an intellectually- challenged person who was too weak-minded to take a position on any subject and who had no sense of passion, Geeta dared him to state who, in his considered view, was the best cricketer ever. Hari, tried to dilly-dally, but as Geetha wouldn’t let him off the hook, finally stated that, in his judgement, the title of best cricketer ever would rest on the lone Indian to have scored a six off the last ball, to win a match by one-wicket, against England. To wit, Bhuvan of Champaner.

Hearing this, Geetha went ballistic and made it clear to Hari with her characteristic bluntness that she was shocked at his shallowness, his retarded mental capacity and his inability to distinguish between real heroes and reel ones.

Hari, as is his style, chuckled and downplayed this incident, but Geetha was clearly not going to forget or forgive so easily.

The next week, while having dinner with another couple, Hari narrated this incident and laughed uncontrollably when he came to the punch line where he had named Bhuvan as the best cricketer ever. The story was a big hit with the friend’s wife, who found it extremely witty and said so.

This infuriated Geetha further. As they were driving back she accused Hari of trivialising an important argument and publicising a sensitive matter with unwarranted flippancy. For once, Hari’s composed demeanour developed some cracks and he snapped back, calling her a dangerous maniac and a menace to the public at large. Even if he had stopped here, he would have been in trouble, but he aggravated it further by adding that, had they been living in the Middle ages, she would have been burnt at the stake by now.

A heated exchange of such strong words can cause havoc and it did. The upshot being that Geetha broke off the engagement, refusing to waste her life with a weak-kneed, pussy-footed, jelly-boned, bradycardiac ,hypotensive creature and, worse, one who did not possess a rudimentary knowledge of the game of cricket. Hari merely mumbled something that was incoherent to Geetha, but had she listened carefully, she could have picked out stray words such as ‘divine intervention’ and “escape from combined might of bull dozer and steam roller”, etc. And they parted ways.”

Bata Thatha had an expression of deep melancholy as he concluded the story.

A Nike-shorts remarked, “That was quite a sad ending. But, that’s young blood for you”.

‘True” agreed Adidas track-pants, “Young and hot”.

“Well, I am not sure”, clarified Bata Thatha “if this was such a sad ending for Geetha. Far from being downcast, she continues to be her usual aggressive, go-getting self and has set her sights on winning the hand of Yuvraj Singh, no less. She has been plotting and scheming and who knows what will result from these machinations of hers?

“And what about Hari?” enquired a concerned Reebok Wrist-band, speaking for the first time that morning.

Bata Thatha shook his head sadly. “ Hari, I am sorry to report, is yet to recover, ill-equipped as he is to measure up to the demanding standards of today’s world. When I saw him last, he was muttering some nonsense about the fantastic achievements of Bhuvan and how he had delivered for India when it mattered most and why he deserved to be revered as the best cricketer ever. His family even got Aamir Khan down to their house to explain to Hari that it was all fiction, but Hari reportedly called Aamir an imposter and demanded that they fetch him the real Bhuvan. “

Disclosure : Idea for this story is borrowed from James Thurber’s piece “The break-up of the Winships”, in which the wife would go gaga over Greta Garbo, calling her the greatest actress ever, while her husband would insist that the greatest actor dead or alive was Donald Duck.


maxdavinci said...

brilliant adaptation!

dipali said...

Poor Hari(:
Great story, Raj.

Revathi said...

Except for the minutest details, I have actually seen this happen to a couple. Too sad.

Raj said...

maxdavinci : thanks

dipali, maybe Hari got away lightly, who knows?

revathi: too bad.

Anonymous said...

Hey Raj
I thought u were a fan of PGW and the inspiration is from the Golf Stories and Mr. Mulliner.
This is never how it ends. The story should continue with the final end resulting in a patch up. Probably, Geeta found out that Yuvi did not match up to Hari and Hari decided that she was the lode star of his life and should Batta Thatha have a role to play in the patch up.
Go for it and make it a happy ending for soupy guys like me.

Raj said...

sankar, not all love stories of PGW had 'happy' endings. Haven't you read the episodes concerning Bingo Little, Freddie Threepwood or even Bertie Wooster?

sujatha said...

Raj, thanx for helping to reveal Sankar's soupy side! Now I know how to deal with him the next time he wants to change the channel when i am watching a "chick flick"!

Raj said...

sujatha, also read the next post on the Guppy syndrome and stay vigilant.