His was the classic Bangalore guy's room. The only light at this unearthly hour are the neon blue hues emanating from an open laptop screen. It's the kind of light that bounces gently off walls and cannot creep beneath the gap under a door and stray into the path of parent's open eye. Torrents bring him album upon album of death metal, black metal and all the others kinds of metals that Bangalore boys churn through their refinery. Mesh windows keep the torrents of mosquitoes riding the city smog, out. The air tonight is heavy, because it hasn't rained today. The weed is a quiet mirror for reflection on a night and a life.
The creaky rhythm of fan overhead give him a beat to roll to. He was your usual stoner bad boy. He wasn't a bad guy, he was a bad boy. He sat in the back row of class. He'd been in fights and like all bad boys, didn't need to show off about having done so. He'd faced cops and won and lost. He'd fucked girls before his peers. He bunked college but he didn't go clubbing. He listened to rock and was afraid to dance. And yet he was a good friend to the good boys and he took the greatest care to ensure his image was one of someone who didn't care for his image. He could ride and drive. He could roll a perfect joint. He could play guitar. At some point in his life, he'd been expelled from school and thus expelled from the Indian Dream.
You haven't heard of the Indian Dream? It's very simple. You don't get expelled, you do well in your tenth and twelfth and you go abroad for university and become a surgeon or an engineer or a banker and most importantly, you never think seriously about India again. It's very simple. Once India has become a holiday destination, you are living the Indian Dream. He was shaken awake a long time ago.
Somewhere down the line, he chose his path. He chose to be a bad boy and like that, his life was charted out before him. In spite of his international high school, he'd walk a different road to the good boys. He'd smoke a cigarette in 8th grade. He'd become cool 9th. He'd be driving and bribing by 10th. He'd realise school mattered in 11th. He'd be humbled by 12th. He'd be forgotten by September. There was no 13th - that was the last stop. All change please.
International School was a 5-lakh-a-year lighthouse that the boys jumped off. The good boys groomed their practise papers and flapped their grades and were flying away soon enough. They didn't land in the water below. The bad boys jumped into the warm, crystal clear pool of their father's business and local, highly bunk-able college. Treading water was easy. All the swimmers can hear above them is the sound of joyous laughter as the good boys find their wings. When they return to land, they'll be tourists.
When they return to land, to breed or nest or hunt or smoke, they'll still be friends with the bad boys. They'd still look the amphibians in the eye, but the connection that once was has been lost. The brotherhood built in school, where all were equal in fees, has been eroded by 12 hours flights taken every Christmas and summer.
I think he'd trade his wooden college desk and his dusty city apartment for a foreign room and a different life. Whether he ever had the means to reach this, I don't know. Maybe the cheap weed has kept him here. I hope he has wings in that drawer because he is a not a bad guy.