In which a forced break from blog­ging causes one to over­com­pen­sate by writ­ing an overly long post.

I was six­teen. She must’ve been a few years older.

I was the kid that snot­tily buried his head in a book through the hour­long bus ride to school, except to look at the occa­sional poster. After her, I was the kid that was start­ing to fan­ta­size about bury­ing the head else­where. Dirty thoughts, I know, but not as dirty as you think. I didn’t know all that then.

In truth, she wasn’t all that pretty. Thin and wiry and bespec­ta­cled and fair and squeaky and rude and unsmil­ing. But she wore excep­tion­ally short skirts that fell just below the knee. Can you imag­ine? And trav­eled the same route as me every sin­gle day for two years, stand­ing but a few feet away from me. And most impor­tant of all, she went to Nrimala[1] Col­lege. What could be hotter?

Ever since a we’d heard that story about a bunch of girls at Rin­mala who raped the milk­man that went to deliver milk to their hos­tel, the hot­ness quo­tient of every­one that spent any time at all in the gen­eral vicin­ity of the cam­pus had increased by sev­eral orders of mag­ni­tude in our eyes. Espe­cially because Rex — who assured us all that he knew — informed us that the story was very true. He also threw in a few details of the inci­dent — oh my! — that made me think that being a milk­man wouldn’t be a bad way to make a liv­ing. Wake up, clean bull­shit, milk cow, visit col­lege, get raped. Bliss.

Could the girl on the bus be a rapist, I won­dered. And then hastily assured myself that she couldn’t have been. Given the time of the inci­dent, she was prob­a­bly in this very bus when her class­mates were doing the nas­ties to the poor milk­man. Unless it was a pre­de­ter­mined crime, and she had stayed back that night. Quite pos­si­ble, you know, with these young col­lege going types.

Now, in case you think we believed every story we heard about IrN­mala, you are so wrong. That story about the girl and a bro­ken test tube for exam­ple: In spite of the obvi­ous truth that in those days — most young girls pos­sessed rather loose morals and were capa­ble of most acts of debauch­ery a male brain could think of, this one was a lit­tle too far­fetched to be true. Also, it coin­cided a lit­tle too well with our entry into the world of pipettes and burettes and — you guessed it — test tubes. So we only partly believed the story.

And then one day, the girl didn’t show up. After she kept up the habit of not show­ing up for a few more days, I knew I had lost her — either she had grad­u­ated or she had fled the law. It must’ve been the lat­ter — how could some­one grad­u­ate in Decem­ber anyway?

She had van­ished with­out a word, my schem­ing rapist shrew girl­friend. Thank God I hadn’t intro­duced her to my par­ents or bragged about her to Rex.

We’d been see­ing each other for a good year and a half, and what did I get out it? A sorry glimpse of knee.

This won’t do.

Man.”

Yeah?”

Umm..,”

Yeah?”

Err.. have you seen a, umm.. a.. you know what?”

Do still pic­tures count?”

No. I’ve seen those in the Illus­trated Weekly too.”

Then, damn. no dude. Don’t tell me you have.”

Only a knee.”

Ooh.. wow. Tell me all about it.”

Well, it was a knee. Looked sus­pi­ciously like a male knee to me.”

No way. Tell me more about it.”

Well, it was rounded and pro­trud­ing and bony.”

You lucky dog. Was that it?”

Yeah.”

This just won’t do.”

My thoughts exactly.”

Hey, can you bring that Illus­trated Weekly to school tomorrow?”

***

A plan was hatched: We would go to a morn­ing show the­ater and see a live, writhing, nubile, hot female body. With­out clothes. A sim­ple enough plan, but the details needed some flesh­ing out.

Where?”

Muru­gan?”

No way. My dad takes a bus through that place everyday.”

Now that you men­tion it, it is on my dad’s route as well.”

Pad­malaya?”

Too close to my house.”

Swami?”

Too close to my mom’s school.”

Oh you chicken.”

Screw you. Let’s do Pad­malaya then.”

Ok. sorry. Jayshan­thi, then. It is far away from the city.”

The silent third guy chimed in now: “But, that’s a stones throw from my house.”

Umm.. too bad dude. The two of us are going there anyway.”

A week spent in antic­i­pa­tion. Nubile. Live. Naked. Big screen. Get­ting caught. Naked. Nubile.

***
Thurs­day.

What do we wear?”

Eh?”

What do we wear tomorrow?”

What are you talk­ing about?”

I mean, to the movie.”

Oh. Bring another set of clothes. Let’s change somewhere.”

My mom’ll get suspicious.”

Oh.”

Let’s wear our school uni­form. We’ll let the shirt out, so that it cov­ers the belt with the school logo. Your shoes look cheap any­way, so we’ll end up look­ing like local school students.”

Great idea. By the way, your shoes look like crap too.”

Isn’t that the whole point?”

And hey, don’t for­get your underwear.”

Laugh­ter.

***

We arrived early. After a lit­tle bit of hag­gling over who should buy the tick­ets, we walked up to the counter together. Two bal­cony seats (we were high-class, weren’t we?) to a movie called Aadhi Thaalam. Pri­mal Rhythm. Tick­ets bought, we rushed to our seats.

Hey man, I saw a guy walk past the the­ater when we were buy­ing tick­ets. He stared at me for a long time. It looked a lot like some­one we know.”

Uh-oh. So that’s it for you. You are caught! I am glad I had my back to the out­side when I bought the tickets.”

Oh, no way. He knew you were there for sure. Don’t we always hang out together?”

Oh! In that case, we should tell every­one that we were here for the after­noon show in case they ask.”

Good call.”

***

Movie plays. A very frus­trated young house­wife who is nei­ther nubile nor naked nor writhing nor hot (and per­haps not alive) occu­pies most of the screen. In both dimen­sions: space and time.

It was obvi­ous from look­ing at her that the frus­tra­tion had caused severe depres­sion, which in turn had led her to take up on junk food in a big way.
Later, the frus­tra­tion really gets to the house­wife, and she decides to take up on a boyfriend instead. Sadly for us, the boyfriend turns out to be a stu­pid moron who insists on leav­ing her clothes on when mak­ing love. Jerk. (To be fair to him, the one time he tried, he got him­self into a time warp, and the night was over in a sec­ond. It also caused a large sec­tion of the audi­ence to scream in uni­son: “Votha cen­soru.”)

We were fast los­ing hope.

But towards the end of the movie, just as some­one was stab­bing some­one else with a screw­driver, the young housewife’s clothes moved away and we saw it. The fleshi­est knee in the world. We left at that point.

Dude?”

What?”

This won’t do.”

Yeah.”

Our quest started then. Oh, and to those who think young men are not patri­otic any­more, take this: We must’ve ignored over a mil­lion rec­om­men­da­tions to go Hol­ly­wood, because we were not inter­ested in for­eign flesh. Be Indian, See Indian.

***

Over the next year or so, we must’ve watched almost every adult Malay­alam movie that was ever made. Some of them twice, to con­firm sus­pi­cions that we could’ve missed a fleet­ing glimpse of some­thing impor­tant when we were talk­ing to each other.

And what did we end up with? Sev­eral sorry glimpses of knee.

***

We then left school and headed for col­lege. At the exact moment we entered col­lege a mys­te­ri­ous force had caused all col­lege age women to turn into paragons of virtue. No rapists as far as the eye could see. And so we had to be con­tent with curs­ing our bad luck and mak­ing same-sex friends.

Man.”

Yeah?”

Lis­ten, there is a the­ater here that shows scene movies. Should we go tonight?”

You mean in the morning?”

Nah, all four shows show the same thing here.”

Wow.”

And thus the quest was restarted with much earnest­ness. But earnest­ness, I’ve come to real­ize, has noth­ing to do with even­tual results. More knee. Maybe a bit (pats him­self on back for clever pun) of grainy black and white action. But no nubile, no naked, no live, no noth­ing. Crapola.

Mean­while, Hol­ly­wood was on a roll. Sirocco and Basic Instinct. In the Cold of The Night and Inher­i­tance. Lots of nubil­ity, lots of writhing, lots of what we wanted. Great, but wrong color, dudes. Sigh.

And then one day real­iza­tion struck.

Dude. The stu­pid cen­sors have a dif­fer­ent stan­dard for Eng­lish movies.”

Of course, you dunce.”

***

And then one day real­iza­tion struck some­one else.

This guy then pro­ceeded to name him­self Sa J Jan (I swear that’s his real name) and shot a movie with the usual Malay­alam actors and actresses. The same frus­trated wife plot, boyfriend and psy­chi­a­trist and screw dri­ver. Only dif­fer­ence was, when the crew showed up at the sound record­ing stu­dio the next day, they were in for a sur­prise: their lines were all in Eng­lish. Read­ing from translit­er­ated Malay­alam notes, they said things like:

Please, oh please. Please let your fin­ger linger on me.”

The movie was released as Secrets of Love and we watched it on the day of release. Our per­sis­tence had paid off! There was live flesh onscreen. It moved. It writhed. And it was not a knee. We had suc­ceeded in our quest!.

Clever oper­a­tor that he was, Sa J Jan rechris­tened him­self all over again as Jai De Van, and made a sequel — Secrets of Mar­riage smashed box office records the world over, and set to rest any doubts we might have had about what we saw the last time. The Quest was done, dried and dusted.

But still we waited. Surely, this topic mer­ited a tril­ogy atleast? Secrets of Divorce. Or maybe Secrets of Child­Birth. But I was quite sure there were more secrets… there had to be.

And sure enough, there were. Secret of Secrets was released a few months later — a fit­ting end to a grand tril­ogy. As we walked out con­tented, we secretly told our­selves that this would surely do.
Around that time, I graduated.

***

These days, when peo­ple talk about dub­bing Basic Instinct into Tamil, all I can do is smile wanly. If I were you, folks, I would dub the Secret of Secrets. At the very least, it has a much bet­ter plot and the director’s name sounds more exotic.

***

[1] In a mas­terly stroke of self-protection, I’ve delib­er­ately inserted one or more typos into the name of the insti­tu­tion. Hah. I hardly have enough time for blog­ging these days, leave alone libel lawsuits.

PS: Apolo­gies are due for the break in blog­ging. I’ve always won­dered if work could keep one too busy to spend an hour or two a week on blog­ging, and I know now. It can. Believe me, I didn’t really mean to take a break. And thanks to those who asked. It felt good.