‘Hi I am Rat’ I watched him closely. With his spikes and coloring he looked more like a cross between a peacock and a human being . His name was Ratnakar and he was my friend’s son.
I love a little bit of irreverence. Profanity is also fine with me. It brings a little spice to life. But the problem with rat was, the he was all spice.
One day I was tending the garden, when he peeped in. ‘ Hey man, busy?’
‘Come in Ratnakar.’ I was still not comfortable with Rat. ‘would you like a drink?’.
‘ Don’t bother yourself.’ I winced as he carried the wet mud inside with his shoes and returned with a bottle of water.
‘ So you like plants?’
‘ Yes I do. Don’t you?’
He thought for a moment. Then with a wicked grin asked if weed is counted as plant.
I patiently told him that just because he loved eating chicken it didn’t make him an animal lover. He slapped my back laughing, ‘Man you are funny.’
I do not know if he ever learnt anything from me, but Rat taught me an entirely new vocabulary. He was almost proselytizing me. I was worried. This guy planned to go for higher studies to USA. Forget GMAT, How would he even clear TOEFL with this vocab?
One day his father visited me. While we were having a drink, he asked me my opinion about Ratnakar.
I thought for a while. This guy was my childhood friend. I did not want to hurt him. But at the same time I did not want him to have any delusions. I gently suggested that his son would be better off in the entertainment industry. He would better in event management or fashion. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine him in a board room discussing business.
His father was a decent man who had recently retired from an MNC. He understood what I meant. But still gently coaxed that he had sent to me so I could coach him for the exam. I looked at him in horror. How could he even think of it. Me teaching Rat? I would be up against a concrete wall.
That was the end of my association with Rat. I didn’t see him for almost like six months and soon forgot about him. Rarely, when I heard some youngster using words like troll, meme and hyper , I remembered him.
One day while I was sitting and redoing my manuscript, I saw his crowning glory peeping over the hedge. Then I realized that I had seriously missed him. He had a very dejected look. I felt sorry looking at those puppy eyes. I was not surprised that he had failed to get admission.
I excused myself to the kitchen on the pretext of making tea for us but actually to prepare my little speech about not to feel bad and that he had given his best blah, blah, blah.
He accepted the tea without any comment. We sat silently for some time. I had to get this guy out of his depression. I gently broached that subject.
He mournfully looked at me and pulled out a small blue diary like book. It was his passport. He handed it to me. I opened it and saw the bald eagle of the USA visa mocking at me. I expected the same mocking expression on his face. But Rat still looked mournful.
Hard to fathom this generation.