“കു***”! Jithin swore, precisely for the 23’rd time that day. Two years back, he would have flinched and even involuntarily pressed his palms onto his ears on hearing the same expletive in Malayalam that took a momentous dig (if you will pardon the sleazy pun) at the male genital organ. But two years is all it takes to expose a failed engineering student like Jithin to a world of abuses, not to mention other appallingly-sordid facets of life. As he took a last look at his ‘Production Drawing’ answer sheet while unscrewing his Mini-drafter from the drawing board; he dejectedly-realized that he was going to flunk this paper (once his strong point, evident by the 85% sessional marks he had secured for the paper) as miserably as the two previous ones in his fourth semester B.Tech degree exam. His hapless participation in the drinking binge last night thanks to Nikhil’s assurance that it would be the best way to kill stress; had left him dreary-eyed and groggy all day. He couldn’t even remember how many shots of Vodka he had treated himself to the previous night; let alone the once-well-practiced drawings. As he gingerly stepped out of the exam hall after handing over his sheet to the examiner almost an hour before time, he cursed the moment he chose ‘Mechanical Production’ at ABC College of Engineering. He cursed Nikhil, his roomie at the WXYZ hostel who ruined his life with alcohol, smoking and occasional shots of ganja. He cursed his fate as he boarded the bus to ‘Statue Junction’, a stone’s throw from his hostel.
Jithin heaved a sigh of relief when he saw the 5 lever Godrej Padlock on his room-door. His roomie was elsewhere, and probably he wouldn’t be back by night. Fishing his key from underneath the layers of grime and dust in one of the recesses of his dilapidated bag, he let himself in and flopped onto the bed, trying to drown his sorrows in a sound sleep. Although he was dog tired, he couldn’t catch a wink. Memories on the train wreck of his life recurred every other moment, making him toss and turn in his bed. His room-mate, he realized, was singularly responsible for his downfall. Nikhil, a final year student at MNOP Engineering college was a gone case. Though he argued otherwise, the rumor mill had it that Nikhil was yet to pass a paper in his four years of Engineering life! God alone knows how he managed to survive in a strict private college with such impunity! Rarely did one see Nikhil by himself; for he would either be on a ganga-inflicted-low or a Vodka-induced-high. He forcibly made Jithin smoke his first joint in the wee days of the first year. From then on, Jithin graduated to Vodka, whiskey and even Ganja. He enjoyed the whole damn thing first. He would brag about how 6 consecutive Vodka shots left him unscathed and fully-conscious. He would freak out the girls in his class by blowing into their face fresh from a binge, leaving a lingering stench of alcohol and ‘Wills’. By the time dismal exam results jolted Jithin awake, it was way too late. He tried, nevertheless, and did succeed to some extent, with reasonable marks in some papers. But the ‘celebrations’ that followed every such achievement made sure he was back to square one, everytime.
It was about 6 in the evening when Jithin got himself out of the bed and opened his books. He had a ‘Mechanics of Solids’ supplementary exam the next day and had willed himself to secure neat marks. Somehow he got himself to remain seated in front of his study table for over three hours when that sharp rap on the door zapped him back to reality. Nikhil had returned. Unventing his frustration with another set of choicest swear words, he unbolted and opened the door and saw that oval sized, head, supported by a burly 5’9”, 78 kilo frame he’d learned to hate. As Nikhil barged in, a whiff of whisky and ganja pierced the room’s calm environment like a shrapnel piercing a soldiers chest. His bloodshot, uncoordinated eyes tried hard to focus on Jithin’s face while he mumbled in his burly voice:
“Was at the bar with Mathew’s gang.”
“So what should I do? Stand upside down and dance? Do whatever you want!”, replied Jithin, unnerved on having his studies disrupted.
“Chill, dude! What’s the issue? Got exams tomorrow eh? Guess what, I too have some crap exam tomorrow. But I don’t give a bloody damn!”
“Duh! As if you’ve learned everything already! Have you EVER studied for an exam in B.Tech?”
“Umm… nice question. But I..*hic*… I think I have. Forgot whi…*hic*”
“Cut the crap, and allow me to mug something up for tomorrow.”
“Okay, whatever. And I’m goanna get something to fill my tummy. You hungry?”
“Not at all! Just f**k off!”
“I’ll be in Roshan’s room, munching some neat chicken 65, while you cram all that shit up! Bye.”
Nikhil sauntered off the room, slamming the door behind him and Jithin got back to his books. But he couldn’t concentrate this time. Nikhil’s arrival had destroyed both his confidence and his concentration. With time, he realized that he needed a giant help from God to clear the exam due next day. Eventually, he got so pissed off that he decided that a meal followed by a drink won’t be a bad idea. After all, he was yet to eat a morsel that day since breakfast.
Roshan’s door was open as he approached it. Nikhil and Roshan were gobbling up giant pieces from plates with steamy ‘parotta’ and chicken fry. Briefly acknowledging Jithin, Roshan beckoned him to sit down and help himself. The sight of steamy food trebled Jithin’s appettite. Without further ado, he joined his friends. Fifteen minutes later, all three of them were burping loud, their appetite satisfied. Jithin then quietly announced to his roomie:
“Dude, I want a drink.”
“F**k man! You should’ve told me before. Nothing’s left here.”
“We’ll go to the bar. I’ve got money. Badly tensed, coz of tomorrow’s exam!”
Roshan supported Jithin’s decision.
“Try Vodka. It’s the best way to kill stress. I was totally high the night before last year’s SSD exam and I got bloody 68 for the university.”
“Okie-dokie. I too wanna kick some ass. Make sure you have..*hic* the money. I don’t have a pie.” agreed Nikhil.
“But how do we go? The bar’s many kilometers away na?”
“Don’t worry bud…*hic*… Got a bike with me. Let’s hit the road and burn some rubber!”
They hobbled towards the hostel shed from where Nikhil fished out a Pulsar. However drunk Nikhil was, he always had himself under control. Now that’s what awed Jithin. This dude would gulp six large pegs at a stretch and still remain steady on his feet, let alone throw up. Jithin himself would puke at the fourth peg, though he never acknowledged the fact. Aware of this, Jithin didn’t p
rotest when he was offered a pillion seat in the 2005 model Pulsar 150. As they roared past the hostel, he noticed the speedometer touch 60. He had never seen Jithin use this one before.
“Your bike?”, Jithin inquired.
“Kinda. Stole it from the beach last night.” Nikhil chuckled.
“Shut the f**k up, if you don’t wanna get kicked off”
His words were drowned by the deafening noise of the Pulsar engine. They had almost touched hundred as they literally flew through the almost-empty roads of Trivandrum city dodging Indicas and Trucks. All of a sudden, Jithin felt the bike swerve towards the left. As they took a 90 degree turn towards a by-lane, Jithin forcibly shut his eyes in fear.
He would never open them again.
Image Courtesy: Denmar
All major Malayalam newspapers had the news clipping in their front page. The accident was too gruesome and ‘sensational’ to ignore. A policeman on night-patrol was witness to the entire incident. He saw a Pulsar swerve at breakneck speed towards a by-lane. It skidded, negotiating the curve and hit a post, throwing its passengers away. The boy riding pillion flew and hit another neighboring post; his head smashed into pulp, killing him instantly. The other guy too suffered terrible injuries which proved fatal by the time he was brought to the Medical College.
Jithin’s dad couldn’t get himself to sign the form so as to obtain the dead body. His hands were quivering like a tuning fork in resonance. He couldn’t digest the news. Nikhil’s uncle represented his family; his mom and dad couldn’t cope with the news. He was shocked at the unprecedented alcohol levels in his blood. The bike too proved a mystery, for Nikhil didn’t own one! Their friends had crowded around the hospital all day, doing whatever they could to help out. They didn’t allow anyone to see the bodies, for Roshan, a habitually bold guy, fainted at the very sight of Jithin’s smashed head.
The News reporter who was the first to ‘scoop’ this news to his 24×7 news channel shrugged at all the pandemonium: “I’ve seen worse.”, he muttered.