Posts Tagged ‘short story by aditya mehta


A Few Calculations

growling at the sun by aditya mehta book coverINFINITELY MORE EFFECTIVE than any alarm clock is a barking dog, and having his sleep wrecked by those death-deserving mongrels was the worst start his day could’ve had.  He was a vegan and an animal lover who would fantasize about shooting barking dogs at random and getting someone to break a Pom Pom’s snout. “Barking or not, I would pay a few hundred rupees to hear that ‘snap’,” he once told a friend, who didn’t blink once during his silent stare that lasted 12 seconds before asking what if was like for a vegan to be stoned.

It being a Sunday, there was not much to do. He longed to be at work, and he’d always wait for Mondays, for they meant a week full of fun at work. Cool colleagues, breezy work, the sense of belonging. “I like what you say but not how you say it,” his boss used to keep saying to him.

Eating out was the biggest problem. He’d stuck to Chinese food for almost a year because that’s the only vegetarian food that could be vegan in India. Most other cuisines have milk or ghee or cheese or something in some form. He’d ask the chef at the Chinese restaurant to not add egg and make sure the dish was dairy-free and there’d still be plenty of “food” to eat. He’d had enough Chinese in the one year to sign an endorsement deal with fucking Ajinomoto.

Enough was enough, and the man was hungry.

He cruised through Juhu thinking of where to get lunch. Don Giovanni – Italian … cheese. Gajalee – coastal … seafood. A right from Juhu Circle, a left towards Four Bungalows. Urban Tadka – north Indian … butter, ghee, curd. Seven Bungalows had Legacy Of China.

“I’m sick of this shit!” he exclaimed, grasping the steering wheel even tighter. He realized he wasn’t angry enough. He was looking for a place to bang his fist when the cell phone beeped. It was a text from Tanya, a hot young woman he’d met through common friends at a dinner recently. He’d been drunk and she’d been intrigued by his veganism and they’d exchanged numbers. Neither bothered to get in touch with the other; there was no dearth of women in his life, and Tanya was too hot to show interest in a guy she’d met just once.

He texted back asking for her address and if she’d like to join him for lunch, and later showed up at her house with a crate of beer.

“Not very romantic,” she laughed, “but it’s a good thing because I drink only beer.”

“Finally, a real woman.”

He’d nearly dropped the crate when Tanya opened the door. She was in a bathrobe and he already knew what lay under it because he’d been blown away by her looks even in his drunken state the other night. The stupor had crippled his social skills but not his short-term memory.

They were in the kitchen, and Tanya looked gorgeous and she knew it. Every heterosexual man lusted after her, every inch of her was sexy. He was dumbstruck and knew what he’d been invited over for. He decided against using the charm he’d used successfully to seduce scores of beautiful women; he was in no mood for a challenge and just wanted some porno sex. And he was about to get it.

“What would you like to eat, Mister Fussy?” she smiled sexily, “My husband’s out of town …”

All this was too much to handle. He was over at this hot-faced beauty’s house for lunch; she was in her bathrobe in the kitchen telling him her husband wasn’t in the city. He grabbed her and went straight for the neck. In an unexpected turn, she struggled and fought him off, leaving him completely flustered. This he hadn’t expected and thought she was playing hard to get. “You’re edible,” he leered and grabbed her again. This time she punched him in the face a few times and he started thrashing her in return. He was boiling mad. Why the hell had she called him over for lunch if she didn’t want to fuck him?

She fell to the floor. “You dumb bitch! Why would you be showing off your thighs and telling me your old man isn’t home if you didn’t want to get fucked by me?”

He didn’t want to hit her any more. She had started it.

“I thought you were a nice guy. And you didn’t let me complete … my husband’s coming back in a few hours. He wouldn’t mind you lunching here, but wait till he hears about this.”

A couple of hours later, he was at the beach. He sat on the rocks and decided it had been a super bad day. As if barking dogs and the lack of food choices weren’t giving him enough grief, now he’d gone and wrecked his reputation. To have been rejected by a woman would’ve been fathomable, but he’d tried to molest a stunning beauty. Soon everyone would know, and he’d be known as a creep. Social suicide.

Before the sun went down, he was at Alfredo’s in Juhu. He looked tired and wondered if he’d made a mistake by calling for a pitcher of draught. “Can I sit here?” a calm voice fell upon his ears. Still munching on salted peanuts, he looked up and saw a sexy face and a slim body accompanying it.

“Sure, if you’re buying the drinks.”

The woman pulled a chair, sat down and smiled. “Whatever happened to chivalry?”

“It’s dead, like my lunch date.” She was breathtakingly beautiful. “Let’s call for another pitcher. Killing dehydrates me.”

“And what if you get drunk?”

He saw it in her eyes, and knew he’d rather put the afternoon behind him and continue living instead of turning himself in like he’d planned on the way to what was to be his last chance to drink. Tanya was dead, and he hadn’t left any evidence behind. The kitchen knife had been thrown in the sea and the crate of beer was back in his car. He’d sent a text message to Tanya’s phone saying he was busy elsewhere and would catch up with her another day. Then he flung Tanya’s cell phone into the sea. Jail was for other people.

“Then you get to take me home,” he said, leaning back and looking directly into her eyes.

Written by Aditya Mehta in 2009

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growling at the sun by aditya mehta book coverINSIDE AZAD LANE, there is a barber shop called Once Again. Next to it is a vegetable/general store owned and run by Pattu Raja, a heavy-set, dark-skinned south Indian man. There is also a tailor who sits on the pavement, and his motorcycle led a stupid thief to his fate. Almost everyone in the lane noticed at around the same time that a man was unsuccessfully trying to control an old motorcycle which wasn’t moving. He appeared to be drunk, and since he didn’t have the keys to the bike he decided he’d take it anyway. He was on it and trying to move it forward, but was swaying his head off and anyone looking at him would’ve known he was very drunk. Five or six people moved towards him from different positions and I too wanted to be a part of whatever was about to happen. The tallest man put his hand on the drunk guy’s shoulder, asked him what he was trying to do, and pulled him off the bike and threw him on the footpath right next to it.

At that point, the tailor got up and realized it was his bike the guy was trying to take off with. More people gathered, and this time the curiosity was higher and the pace faster. Everyone likes a tamasha. I was one of the four people standing next to the drunk thief (he was sitting on the ground, still reeling from being pulled off the bike and flung away). The tall man slapped the thief when he revealed his name. “Behenchod, it’s people like you who spoil the name of our community.” The thief received slaps from two other people before the tall Muslim man spoke again. “I was going home after imbibing and you had to come along and spoil the fun! Mood banaya tha, saale tune vaat laga di.” In the next minute the rogue received kicks and punches from all around.

The thief first claimed it was his brother’s bike, then couldn’t remember his brother’s name, and then got fed up and admitted he was a thief who got drunk silly and messed up. “I know I’m fucked,” he said. This was mistaken for drunk arrogance and he got punched a few times by Pattu Raja, who had joined in as he was done for the day and not wanting to waste a chance to clobber someone. It turned out this scoundrel had nicked a vegetable cart and left it on the side of the road upon spotting the motorcycle. The thief had thought selling the bike would fetch him more money than a cart full of vegetables. There was a huge commotion near the cart and by this time a police van showed up, and the drunk idiot looked on as he was lifted up and put inside.

A crowd had gathered around the building where billionaires dwell, where the cart had been stranded. People had stepped out of their homes and vehicles to find out what was happening. And they were picking whatever they wanted off the vegetable cart. I walked up and saw the cart also had fruits. Carrots, cauliflower, ladyfinger, gherkins…it was all flying off. A senior police officer pondered over things as he bit into a tomato while a fat lady tossed a brinjal into her bag. The tailor’s bike was safe, the thief had been whisked away to a place where a hangover would really bother him the next day as he tried to recollect scenes from the night before. The vendor the cart rightfully belonged to was never to get back the fruits and vegetables or the cart. He’d correctly blame either stupidity or mistiming for his loss till it made him richer and wiser. I picked up a bunch of green grapes, the most attractive thing on the fruit and vegetable cart.

Written by Aditya Mehta in 2009

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The Boyfriend Destroyer

growling at the sun by aditya mehta book coverTAKING OFF A GIRL’S BELT isn’t the easiest thing when you are drunk, but we both are drunk and back at my place. Somehow, after all those beers, with no memory of the rickshaw ride, we’re here. Drunken women always giggle when you take parts of their clothing off, and of course that’s a good sign. It’s not very exciting for me though; I’ve been banging this chick for a month, and nothing is ever as good as the first time. The first time you bang a new chick, I mean.

The satisfaction of entering home with a relatively new chick lasts about a month, especially when she was someone else’s girlfriend when you hooked her. It’s terrible, I know – and the other dude is one of my best pals, but she just wasn’t into him. He got her to band practice to impress her, and he followed her around like a puppy, asking if she was bored, inquiring if she was uncomfortable, did she want something to drink, and all that shit you don’t ask women. He’d be looking at her through the drums to see if she was looking back at him. I’d barely made eye contact with her then, I swear. I’ve got no intention of stealing another man’s woman.

In good time (about 12 minutes), she figured this guy was a simpleton. Sure, he’s a nice guy – clean-hearted and all – but apparently that doesn’t excite her. It has never excited any woman, but don’t ask them that. Ask me. I learned it the hard way.

“Do you have a number?”


“Well, can you give him your number when you get a new phone so I can get it from him later?” she says, pointing at my buddy.

I didn’t want to buy a phone; I was so happy without one. I’d lost it two months earlier and wanted to be phone-free for another two months at least.

“I don’t think he wants you to have my number. He’s already looking petrified, like I’m going to pick you up and walk off with you.”

She started giggling again. She giggles all the time. Except when I’m banging her; then she’s just fucking screaming. Back then, I didn’t know I’d be making her cream and scream like this.

The belt is off her waist, and she’s taken everything else off, and we’re in bed, and I’m flaccid.

“Don’t do this, Mehta… I’m dripping wet.”

“And I’m drunk and sleepy.”

My friend’s been calling her all day. It’s Valentine’s Day. But she’s been with me, and we’ve been out drinking with her friends. She’s not taking his calls and wants to get boned by me, but she’s not the one who has to get it up, and I just want to sleep. She gets a text message: “Oh, so you’re sleeping with Aditya now?” To which she replies, “Have you gone mad?” Another SMS comes in less than half a minute. “You fools, I can see you. The window is open.”

Oh, the advantages of having an apartment on the ground floor. He’s standing there dressed very well. With the purple shoes he bought for her, and a bouquet of roses. On Valentine’s Day.

The damage has been done, but there are very few things great acting can’t fix. I tell him I’m impotent, that I haven’t been able to get it up in four months. He buys it with a credit card. She’s back the next night, giggling, suggesting that I get a grill fixed outside the window.

Written by Aditya Mehta in 2010

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Obituary for a Peddler

growling at the sun by aditya mehta book coverTHE ROAD LEFT to the main entrance of Andheri Station from the western side of the suburb is always packed with people in a tearing hurry. Everyone has somewhere to go, and the ones who don’t, have something to do right there. There are commuters either on their way to work or on the way back home, people stopping for a quick bite at one of the many legit stalls that do rollicking business all day. Young guys buying cheap deodorant, college girls buying popular novels, people browsing through pirated DVDs of Hindi and English films. You’ve either survived the unbelievably uncomfortable train ride or are getting mentally prepared for it or you’re just plain used to reaching your destination and coming back with plenty of other human animals, all cramped together on an uncomplaining local train. On a local in Mumbai during peak hours, the human animals aren’t bought or taken anywhere for slaughter. The train ride is the slaughter. And you buy a ticket to get pushed, shoved around and even verbally abused once in awhile. Best, buy a season pass. But all this is forgotten soon after it’s over, unless you’re new to Mumbai or find your wallet missing as you step out onto the main road. Moving on further into the galli, there are many other shops, including a liquor store. They’re called wine shops here, and humans frequent them to purchase intoxicants legally. For the illegal stuff, you get extremely low quality hashish all over Bombay. You can buy several golis of Bombay Black at one of the shanties on this road too. Bombay Black – a bastardized version of hash which has boot polish, mehndi and Iodex – to get you high and keep coming back to buy.

It is with great sadness that I announce the demise of Bua, a ganja seller who lived in a small hut on the road next to Andheri Station. He sold me many a pudi of grass, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Demonos called me yesterday to inform me that Bua had passed away a week ago. Surprisingly, it was not leprosy or boredom that killed the oldest peddler in Andheri West – it was tuberculosis. Bua was a hard-working man. He would sit back and relax and give a 30-buck pudi to anybody who went to his hut and said, “Arey Bua, jaldi pudi de.” To which he would say, “Nahi hai!” And then you’d have show him 30 Indian rupees and say “Ek pudi toh de!” Flirting was the secret of his long life, I think. One thing I admire about Bua is that he never retired. Even after he got a leg amputated, he would lie down and sell the weed like a motherfucker. He hardly ever stepped out of the hut, and every time I saw his forlorn face I wondered if he missed his wife.

Bua is survived by his son Chicken, who sells and does brown sugar. Brown Sugar – a bastardized version of heroin which has dhatura and hell knows what else – to get you hooked and leave you cooked. Chicken has been taught well by his father; I once saw him eating a watermelon. Demonos also mentioned that Bua’s dwelling had been torn down, but with the help of his prized customers, Chicken got it back in place. Bua and his son Chicken were the perfect example of a healthy father-son relationship; they had tremendous understanding and respect between them.

Unlike every other brown sugar user, Chicken doesn’t look like he’s going to die. Maybe the drive is in doing business, and perhaps having a responsibility of some kind keeps Chicken from overdosing like the rest. No matter the nature of his work, you have to agree Chicken is the most focused peddler, and he has all his connections set, too. The house is set, the old man is gone, business is good … no reason to kick the bucket.

You know how it is with brown sugar addicts, you know the story. They are born, they inject or chase the dragon, they die on the pavement, their respiratory system giving up in their sleep. Or just a good, old overdose during an afternoon siesta … nothing too fancy. Fellow addicts light a candle for the dead, place it next to the corpse and heat some of the stuff for a fix while they’re mourning. Life goes on … and might as well make the most of the candle.

Bua hated the mention of hash, and he certainly didn’t have anything to do with brown sugar. He’d scowl if I asked him for charas, just like the woman who sells ganja near the tracks at Vile Parle Station. That’s what they had in common besides leprosy: their dislike for black gold. My favourite memory of Bua is seeing him sitting outside his hut in a very old greyish suit and a grey Nehru hat, giving the neighbourhood kids gyaan on something, probably the benefits of drinking water after smoking ganja. He looked very happy, maybe it was his birthday. Bua will be missed, and I believe Chicken will carry on his father’s legacy.

Most of the cops know Chicken well, and occasionally they bother him. Then last week, a bunch of them rounded the addicts up, for seemingly no reason. Expecting the addicts to operate from weakness and cut their own wrists, the pandus tried throwing their excess weight around. What they didn’t know was the addicts hadn’t had their dose and were dying for it. Twap! A piece of shit hit a havaldar’s left cheek and fell to the ground. The stocky thola looked unsure, and before he could react, the rest of the policemen were assaulted with human excrement. They waved their lathis about threateningly, but the gardullas were in a partying mood. Chicken sat back and flashed a rare half-smile as his elite clientele made a team of cops flee in panic and embarrassment, sending them packing with faeces flying around and the odd stool hitting a shocked sub-inspector randomly. It matches the khaki, I thought. The neighbourhood kids came out to enjoy the cops’ disgust and laugh openly at them, and before long things were back to normal in the lane.

The family business is in good hands, Bua … see you in hell.

Written by Aditya Mehta in 2010

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