The day would often set on our liquid glasses, mostly steel ones from the hostel mess, as someone put on a cassette – Kishore Kumar or Mohammed Rafi for choice. Or as some friend, more multifaceted than our gathering, burst in with the day’s campus headlines (The Vice Chancellor is doing dirty politics on that issue!… Administration is closing down Francis’s canteen because the right wingers are pressurising them!... Feminists have brought out a pamphlet against neutering campus dogs!...)
Rohit would, in the midst of all this, insist on us appreciating how tough his life was. We’d settle down to the evening’s entertainment. He had spun two complicated and conflicting stories about why his non-work was in the state of non-progress that it was -- one for his thesis advisor and one for his family -- and with great difficulty managed that the two parties not get in touch. But his atrocious professor didn’t exactly seem to believe that there had been a theft in the house, and his Bhabhi had actually called up the friend’s house where Rohit claimed he was staying and working but obviously wasn’t…
As we grew more intoxicated, we would create our own little continents, alone or with whoever seemed to be led by the same firefly that night – a song, a joke, a grievance, a moon, a thought, a plan. One or two of us would step out for a walk. Sometimes a potential romance would peek out hopefully from behind the unmoving keekar tree. Sometimes the night would drive us to an excess of sensuous sentimental despair as Rahul recited in Bengali: “Chai go, ami tomake chai, tomake ami chai”, I want you, I want you, I want you… .
And we’d return to the room, as best described on T Shirts, Same Same But Different.
“…If you haven’t heard the Malayalam songs by Salil Choudhury, you’ve not really heard him at all”.
“Accha? In Malayalam?”
“Don’t worry about the term paper man, just give some angles”
“I’ll give angles but will he give Marx?”
“Arre woh to poems bhi likhta hai bhai!”
“Haan, behnchod, mujhe bhi dikhayi thi! Tumhe wo ‘Individuation of the Self’ wali dikhayi?”
“Chalein? kucch grass ka jugaad hai?”
“Chalo, the dhaba will close”
“You people don’t know with what difficulty I convinced Bhabhi that I’ve been…”
“What, drinking the midnight oil?”