Thats when it happened. Like all bad things, it came out of nowhere, just when you thought things couldn't be any better and everyone were feeling extremely complacent.
It was a huge explosion. A nuke probably, or a neutron bomb. Images flashed out like they'd been sucked into a black hole. A new noise filled the atmoshphere. It was a voice. Something very familiar about that one. He knew that voice. The angel of death probably. Everything around was dark and so suresh assumed that he was in that transition stage between life and death. It didnt hurt. Didnt feel weird. By now the voice was extremely loud and clear, "Suresh, Get up...Its very late"
Suresh opened his eyes and groaned. The bright May-sun-light beamed into his room from the window directly before him bathing him in a thermal tide that sent his sweat glands into an early morning jog. The room around him was a mess. He wasnt a very neat guy to begin with. But that morning, the room was extra messy because of what happened last night. His cousins had come over, Raghav, Vinay, Sushmita and Divya and they had had a blast. Suresh rose from the bed and winced. A sharp stab of pain shot across his back and his right arm - the after effects of the night before. He should have realised that he had gone too far with the dancing when his legs kept giving away beneath him. All of them had been drunk. And that was when it hit suresh. Holy crap!
His mom walked into the room, carrying the flowers from the garden into the pooja room whose door, ironically lay inside his room. His heart was beating like a wild drum. The bottles, the mess! His parents must have seen everything when they came home in the morning after their trip. He was so screwed. He rose from the bed and his feet hit his guitar, which he carefully placed back in its place by his bedside. It was so futile moving one singular object when the room looked like a tornado had blown through it. How drunk were they? In an insane moment of guilt he vowed never to drink again but quickly realised that it was a stupid vow and took a new one to drink with moderation where moderation itself would be a dynamic variable capable of taking varying values. He waded through the chaos that was his room into the main hall. It looked spic and span. Even the large bronze statue in the corner was upright.
Suresh knew what had happened. His parents had walked in this morning, seen the house in the state it had been in, immediately knew what had transpired and had cleaned it. His pride, or wharever that had been left of it was now totally obliterated. Dreading the moment, he walked out into the front porch where his dad sat on his bamboo chair sipping cofee and reading the morning news paper.
"So, what did you guys do over the weekend", he asked seeing him come out.
As if he did not know. "Well, we were just hanging out...watching tv..did nothing special", why should he commit himself in any case.
"Since, its the holidays for you, why dont you clean up your room a bit. It looks like a pig sty"
For the first time, Suresh agreed that it wasnt an exaggeration.
"Yeah, i will do that today", he replied suddenly sensing that perhaps things had somehow gone right. But who was the mystery cleaner.
"Good morning", he heard a chorus behind him. Raghav and Divya walked out into the porch looking quite fresh unlike him. Some people just didnt have hang overs. But these two looked like they had been up for quite sometime. Slowly they slipped away from the porch and into the garden out of ear shot of Suresh's dad.
"We have a problem", divya looked worried.
"Did you guys clean up the house", suresh asked
"Yes we did. But its not complete."
"what do you mean?"
"Its the washing machine da. All the beer bottles are inside the washing machine"
Sometimes when people say really ridiculous things in such a matter of fact way you find it hilarious. And so suresh laughed till his eyes were filled with tears of joy.
"What the fuck are you guys saying", he asked, his laughter quickly transforming into deep worry lines on his face.
"Yeah man. We woke up at around 7 and realised that your parents would be coming and started cleaning. We had cleaned the house and had collected all the bottles in the storage room for disposal when we heard them in the drive way. So we quickly stashed it inside the washing machine and came out to welcome them."
"A washing machine. Of all places. You guys are nuts", suresh said.
"Hey!", divya was pissed, "You werent even helping. You were singing 'Something about my way' in your fucking sleep."
The little conspiratory group stood in the garden and drew up the tactical plan.
"Ok", suresh took lead, " We will move those bottles out of the washing machine, one by one, so that no one gets suspicious"
"Ok. Lets wake up sushmita and vinay also. Five of us. 16 bottles. Lets see how quickly we can do this."
So they went and woke up the other two and explained the strategy. They met up near the washing machine.
"What are you doing here", Suresh's mother walked in with a bunch of dirty clothes, "Have all of you brushed? I will get you people some cofee. She walked over to the washing machine and it was pretty obvious that she would now open the door to throw the clothes in.
"Mom!", stopped suresh, "No. I mean - My dirty clothes are inside and i want to wash them first"
His mom stopped. There was a collective sigh of relief from four lungs.
"Ok. Finish it off quickly", saying she turned up the water level and switched on the washing machine and left the room. The four could hear the trickle of water filling up inside the machine. Suresh switched it off.
"Here, detergent", they spun like crazy chickens as suresh's mom handed over the detergent. She left. Phew!
"Ok. We dont have much time. So instead of taking it one at a time lets do it together. We need some thing to carry all these bottles.", suresh looked around the room for a suitable baggage for 16 empty beer bottles.
"What about this?", sushmita brought a small jute bag lying in a corner.
"No. Too suspicious.", suresh thought quickly and rushed into his room and picked up his backpack and rushed back.
"Oh...cool...", vinay said and opened the washing machine while suresh held the back pack.
One down. Two down. Three down. Wet beer bottles clinked inside his bag. It was ruined. Sound of feet. Vinay shut the washing machine with a bang while suresh desperately looked for a place to hide his back pack.
"What are all of you doing here", Suresh's dad peeped in, his spectacles dangling from his ear and his hands holding the paper he had been reading.
"Just talking", Divya replied nonchalantly. They stood there quite obviously not talking. Suresh's dad frowned and then nodded his head in a way that had come to represent, "I know you are upto no good" but he continued on.
They quickly loaded up the rest of the bottles into the back pack. It was pretty bulky and heavy now. Now all they needed to do was to carry this heavy bundle to suresh's room where it would be safe for the moment. Suresh tip toed to the end of the room and peeped out. The hall was empty and he could hear his mom in the kitchen. So he ran.
The trip from the storage room to his room involved a run of about 6 meters through the open hallway and suresh made 4 of them before he slipped and crashed to the floor. It was a moment frozen in time when the backpack crashed into the floor sending a huge explosion of noise through the house and suresh lay sprawled near it.
"What happened!", suresh's mom ran into the hall from the kitchen. If not for sushmita's quick reflex the day woudnt have been saved. She immediately kicked the pulverised backpack containing millions of shards of broken bear bottles across the hall neatly into Suresh's room. It was a slo mo moment as suresh watched the bundle skid across him on the smooth marble floor, his mother rushing into the hall way, the other two cousins staring trasfixed at the bundle as it cheekily entered suresh's room just as his mom rushed into the hall way. Safe for the moment!
After 10 minutes of fussing over suresh's fall they finally were allowed the privacy. They rushed into the room and pushed the back pack beneath the bed.
Thank god! That was close!
They sat in a moment of victorious silence to catch their breath. As the sound of their breathing died down another sound rose. They all heard it.
"Some thing about my way....I aint gonna hold sway....if u catch me...", the song filtered in from the living room upstairs.
Suresh smiled. He loved that song. It was his favo- hang on. Abruptly the smile faded. Something was wrong. He looked around for confirmation and he got it. Confusion and shock on his cousins' faces. The sound filtering in was way too familiar for suresh. In fact, it was the sound he had been hearing over the past 21 years, i.e. ever since he had learned to speak. It was the quintessential suresh himself singing his favourite song. This in itself shouldnt have been a bad thing but something was wrong. Like bullets out of a gun, the five of them rushed upstairs into the bed room from which the sound was coming.
They stood at the door transfixed by what they were seeing. The image on the t.v. was grosteque. It was suresh with beer all over his shirt, a beer bottle in his left hand and a guitar slung over his shoulder, standing over the dining table singing his favourite song all out of tune. His other 3 cousins - except the one who was filming it - were dancing with beer bottles int their hands around it.
The explosion of sound was like nothing he had ever experienced before. Under the thousand of megawatt tungsten glare, but more from the 3 bottles of beer, his legs trembled a little. Suresh Krishna blinked under the surreal influence of what looked like a million cheering fan- his cousins, and a huge stage that belonged only to him. A gregarious male voice broke across the uproar sending urgent whispers for silence across the mad throng. "Ladies and Gentlemen, We present you the quintesential Suresh. Lets give him a huge round of applause",screamed vinay. The collective scraping of a million chairs as men, women, children, teenagers, the elderly all rose up to applaud this new phenomenon. A huge shreik rose from the front rows startling suresh. The shock was unfounded. It was just the hundreds of girls rooting for him. They were springing up and down clapping and screaming. 'We love you!' they screamed. For the first time in the last 90 seconds of his on stage existance, suresh's legs stopped vibrating. He was already getting used to the adulation and was even starting to enjoy it. Thats when it happened.
They stood there at the doorway staring at the video in shock. Suresh looked angriliy at Divya, the video freak but it wasnt her fault. All of them were drunk.
His father turned toward them slowly. His face was a mixture of shock and distaste.
Finally he spoke, "The video cam was connected to the television, and i wanted to see the video we took last month at darjeeling", he said, "Can you change this?"