The Giggling Gladiator (Part I)

March 4, 2012

Fiction, Such is Life

Chhotu is the secret police. Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti. Period.

For the incredulous, yes it still exists. Of course, it has a different name. Dare me not to come clean. If I expose him here, he will be soon found floating in a pond full of frogs with a hole between the eyes. So will be I!

I’ll be loath to lose him, not just because he is a regular at my blog, even if incognito, but also since he is a dear friend. And there are times when he loses his composure enough to leave wisps of infinite wisdom on my outpourings.

Since it is not possible for me to tell by merely staring at my works if they have been scanned by the phantom, I call him over the phone after each new addition. I have no way of knowing whether my calls get monitored but I figure, these would be but minor irritants in the grand scheme of things. After all, I am just a moron hankering for readership.

The telephonic connection with him is instantaneous. But all that comes across is peals of laughter, in measured waves. The cacophony is an impregnable Niagara, refusing to yield even an iota of his thoughts. ‘Carry on’, is all that is offered, in between short pauses.

We became friends many years back when fate brought us together in a computer training institute called Nut-IIT. I was there to collect a certificate to help cement my place as a Research Assistant in IIM Lucknow where I was a contract employee. I was already well-versed in what was expected of me at the workplace which was packed with cutting edge technology. But the absence of an academic stamp on my scientific acumen had started affecting the prospects of a secured livelihood adversely. Of all the popular outlets dispensing wisdom of computers in those times, Nut-IIT had the reputation of attracting the cutest of girl students. This simplified pinning down the goal to a huge extent. However, course prices were steep, forcing me to fall back on the distinctly middleclass pockets of my parents.

Chhotu, on the other hand, had barged through the annual talent discovery competition organized by Nut. At the time, he was already enrolled in a Bachelor’s course in the Government run engineering college, a fact which he conveniently hid. His college laboratory had a bunch of ancient computers that refused to wake up from the collective coma. He was apparently looking forward to racking the brains of the fancier machines at Nut.

We both landed in the late evening class. There he was sitting trying to look small but small he was not. He was tall and so was his face with well defined features and piercing eyes. He spoke at a rapid pace in a guttural voice that spouted approximately twenty words per second.  Since we were the only occupants of the farthest bench, the instructor looked at me helplessly when Mr Chhotu proceeded to introduce himself.  I was nearly dozing out when the rat-a-tat of the introduction hit my eardrums with the clarity of crystals falling on floor. Although I was not supposed to, I proceeded to relay it to the amazed gathering with the finality of a gong, “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions…!”

Soon, however, I discovered that folks would address me when they actually wanted to speak to the tall man. Worse, they expected the answer too, from my mouth in a simpler language. It being a computer institute, I was quickly identified as the input-output device of the rather fearsome pupil.

The evening classes turned out to be a test of endurance to both of us for reasons more than one. Firstly, we were easily more informed than the instructor himself who would frequently seek our guidance on subjects he was expected to teach us. Secondly, writing routines in COBOL felt akin to trudging from Shanghai to Timbuktu on a bullock-cart. Lastly, and importantly, girls stayed clear of the classes terminating into nights, for perceptible reasons. This was why then, I and Chhotu, plotted to transcend ourselves to the afternoon sessions which were choking to death with girls. Also, this was how we rammed into Nalini, the cold, blood-sucking vampire of the Nut.

(Read ‘The Giggling Gladiator- Part II’ here)

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About umashankar

The question then is, am I a writer? It is true I wriggle a pen to colour my notepad, or tap at a keyboard to darken the pixels of my desktop screen. If the strings I weave paint a canvas to my readers, borrowing the hues of their own vision, maybe I am.

View all posts by umashankar

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30 Comments on “The Giggling Gladiator (Part I)”

  1. deb Says:

    interesting!! let’s see what happens next. waiting for part II

    Reply

  2. jaya Says:

    Your blog always increments my knowledge of my hubby. Its always pleasant to read your english. When i first met my hubby I was in desperate need of an interpreter and after 12 years of marriage i have found one, but now my two ears have got used to it or rather when his speed has reduced drastically.

    Reply

  3. Farida Says:

    Very interesting real life adventure .. you got me very curious about Nalini now. Very eager to read more.

    Reply

  4. Chotu Says:

    yeah !! dear friend you reminded me of the good old days at NUT-IIT, of that creaky nondescript room where that vampire flourished. WAIT.. hold on. i will take the liberty to reserve my comment till the PART-II is out.

    Reply

  5. Giribala Says:

    :D waiting for the sequel with bated breath!!!!

    Reply

  6. satish Says:

    Great, will watch out for part II…..

    Reply

  7. alkagurha Says:

    This one is different…and Nalini sounds interesting….

    Reply

  8. Rahul Says:

    Alumnus of Nut IIT:) Not bad… Nalini, has added to the suspense

    Reply

  9. umashankar Says:

    @Satish, Alka, Rahul:
    Thanks for your interest.
    I’ll be back!

    Reply

  10. zephyr Says:

    The vampire sounds intriguing indeed. But watch out for them after the revelations since you might well be the next target for them to sink their fangs into. Nice flow and narration.

    Reply

    • umashankar Says:

      I can’t vouch for the vampire, Zephyr. But the duel with her was intriguing enough. I’ve never been afraid of them since. So, I say, Bring them on!!

      Reply

  11. Jyoti Mishra Says:

    Visiting first time and really find this place interesting..
    giggling gladiator :P the title was interesting enough to have me read all …. enjoyed !!

    Reply

  12. Sudhir Srivastava Says:

    Much better than the last one. Waiting for the second part. And I agree, Nalini sounds interesting.

    Reply

    • umashankar Says:

      The last one, Sir, if I may be allowed to search my heart, is one of the best I have been able to write in all my life. I am touched by your continued support.

      Reply

  13. Saru (@SaruSinghal) Says:

    LOL…I was laughing so much in between, entertaining…Waiting for the next part!

    BTW, we all are morons hankering for readership.

    Reply

  14. sujathasathya Says:

    very interesting title and an equally entertaining narration

    Reply

  15. ruchi jain Says:

    Nut-IIT had the reputation of attracting the cutest of girl students.
    haha,, interesting…

    Reply

  16. Deepak Says:

    As usual very interesting and title is matching the whole text. Let me read second now.

    Reply

  17. magiceye Says:

    wow! going across to the 2nd part now!

    Reply

  18. Latha Says:

    ahahahah cant stop laughing…..“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions…!”ROFL…..

    Reply

  19. bhavana Says:

    hahaha–I hear this again and again of guys transitioning out of courses which don’t have enough girls!!! And you and Chotu…an Indian version of Laurel Hardy (not exactly fat n thin but in the Umashankar sense!) You write stories so well, USP. Brings a smile to this weary evening! Waiting for next part! Or rather now moving to the next part. I get to read two stories today.

    Reply

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