Last night, with body full of Psoriatic lesions, as I tossed around in my bed, waiting for (what I thought to be) my beloved Sleep to come to me, take me in her arms, and give me the much-needed relief from pain and itchiness, I found that – what has become common now – Sleep had abandoned me. Like a jilted lover I have now decided to make my affair with Sleep public so that the readers can decide what went wrong. I can’t keep it under wraps anymore. Here are the two mails that were exchanged between me and her. You be the judge.
I am still calling you ‘Dear’ because of the priceless memories of the past. You had, in the past, proved to be a reliable partner, a friend I could turn to in joys and sorrows, a beloved who gave me long hours of happiness, and many a times, ecstasy. I don’t mind admitting that there were moments when I didn’t want to leave the coziness of your arms and face the world. You had given me enough evidence that you cared for me.
I wistfully remember many memorable moments spent with you in the privacy of my bedroom when you caressed me and I reciprocated with eagerness and defiance of the world. There were times, during my boyhood, when I had to attend to a lot of things: school work, reading newspapers etc that my dad insisted on, writing mails and so on. But, such was the urgency of your demands that I capitulated to your charms. My only demand was that you would keep it private and clandestine. I didn’t want the world to know that I dreamt of you in my spare time.
But, did you keep it under wraps? No, slowly and surely, you were hell-bent to let the whole world know about our love or affair. There were times when it was most embarrassing to have you around.
I recount just a few of these whilst waiting for you to come to me tonight. Do you remember the time when the Maths teacher in the class was telling us the most interesting algebraic equation, in which the mystery of an unknown figure called ‘x’ was unfolding? I should have been agog, like others, for the denouement. But, no, at that precise moment you came to me. “Shh” I told you, “Go away, love; everyone can see you. It has been just three hours when I was your slave. I promise you tonight we shall be together again.” But, it had no effect on you. You were determined to have me again. Looking back, I think that you were an obsessive beloved, deriving loads of happiness to see me cringe in public. Do you remember, dear Sleep, what the Maths teacher did to me in finding you with me? I denied it, but, he could see my love for you in my eyes. I was publicly rebuked.
Now that I am at it, how can I forgot the night before the matriculation History exam. There were battles, places, dates and personalities to be remembered. You knew the urgency; didn’t you? Because more often than not in the classes you had kept me from remembering the incidents of the Battles of Panipat and Quit India movement. The night before the exam was my only time to prove to the world that I cared for Indian and World History. I begged you to leave me alone. But did you do that? No, darling, once again – as always – you considered the demands of our love more important than my paying attention to Mughal Zahir ud-Din Muhammad Babu or Dadabhai Naoroji or Wilson Woodrow. The whole night you played with me and I nearly failed in the exam. You were so selfish about our love, so engrossed in it that you didn’t give a damn.
You continued demonstrating your overwhelming power over me even after I became a man. I wanted the world to take notice of the fact that I too was an intellectual, caring as much for art movies, as a lot of knowing people around me did. So, I went to see a Shyam Benegal movie; a sure shot way to be counted amongst the cerebral lot. In order to distinguish his movies from commercial ones, he had (probably no choice, but) to make the dialogues in the movie even slower than that of – many years later I discovered – Prime Minister Vajpayee’s. For example:
A: Gaanv gaye the? (Did you go to the village?)
B (after an eternity): Gaya tha. (Yes, I went)
A: Kya dekha? (what did you see?)
B (after much thinking): Kuchh bhi nahin. (Nothing)
A (looking at B hard): Kuchh bhi nahin? (Nothing?)
B (confirming): Kuch bhi nahin.
I am sure if I had looked around I would have seen the arty audience at the edge of their seats with the gripping dialogue. But, nay, I couldn’t see any of them because long before you had claimed me. I had paid all of Rupees 40 (at that time a princely sum) to sit in the Dress Circle. Later, in order to rub shoulders with some of my learned friends I had nothing to add to the conversation about the merits of the movie. Thanks to you, dear, my money and time had been wasted.
Even after I joined the Navy, your penchant about being seen with me in public got me into serious trouble. I remember the time when the Gunnery Instructor was telling the class about the intricacies of 40/60 Bofors (much before the company was made infamous by RG and the clan) Anti-aircraft guns, you decided to visit me. I had hell to pay. Gunnery Instructors are unlike Algebra teachers. They don’t punish you by making you stand at the back of the class. Up rifle and going around the parade ground five times in heavy drill boots is for them the mildest chiding. Many of them are probably employed in places like Guantanamo; but, that’s another story. And, dear Sleep, you rejoiced.
Whenever I have essayed to point out your thoughtlessness in getting me into deep trouble you have gleefully told me that I am the only lover you have who complains. You have tried to show me down by rubbing into me about parliamentarians (in more important positions than I am in) who have slept through the complete sessions of, say, Women’s Reservation Bill. Recently you have told me about a certain Qasab and his cronies coming to us in Mumbai all the way from our neighbour Pakistan and how all those involved in giving them a grand reception were closeted with you. You also told me that when trillions of our nation’s public money was being siphoned off to foreign locales, how the government and those whose duty it was to stop this illegal outflow just frolicked with you.
All this is very fine, Sleep, but why is so much time to be given to you when you are not true to anyone? Do you visit A Raja in Tihar Jail, for example? No, he probably tosses around in his bed (even the air-conditioning has been removed now) waiting for you.
Are you a friend or a beloved only in your lovers’ good-times? I would think so. They told me that awaiting your promised arrival all I have to do is to count sheep. Last night I reached the figure of 210,114 and yet you didn’t come.
What’s your excuse?
I received the following reply in the wee hours of the morning.
I pity you. I pity your name. You are the kind of lover who ‘uses‘ a beloved when you want. The problem with you is that you always want to be in control; you always wanted me in the Master to Mistress relationship: asking me to come to you when you felt like and trying to shoo me away when you’d had your fun. So, dear Sunbyanyname, you can’t have it both ways. I detest clandestine affairs. I want you to want me, love me and respect me all the time, and in front of everyone.
You have given me a number of incidents that have embarrassed you in public. Let me tell you how many times you have let me down. In comparison my other lovers have desired me more and kept me with them in full public view without any shame. Take for example, councillors of BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation). They did not hide their affair with me even when people were and are complaining about perpetually pot holed roads in Mumbai. There are Ministers I am in love with who were never ashamed to be with me when complete forests vanished and people encroached on public property. There is a favourite Prime Minister of mine who opted to be with me when such important decisions were to be taken and implemented as CWG, 2G and many other Gs.
And don’t give me A Raja bullshit. I am with him always. Don’t believe the media who always scandalise my affairs with such important people. By the way, who do you think you are? I have had an abiding affair with President Obama too for which the results are just coming out.
You complain now. But, to tell you the truth, I am fed up of your double standards. You want to cuddle me only in the privacy of your bedroom, as if I am some highly paid call girl. But, otherwise, you don’t want to have anything to do with me publicly.
I hate you. Many others in India and abroad are better than you. Go about tossing in the bed now. I am not coming. I too have moved on.
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