another time

He was born in 1951 in a house in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Soon after his arrival, his father had boarded a ship to North America. He went to Chicago where he would work in classrooms at the University of Illinois- Champagne/Urbana by day and at their gas stations on their cold, windy nights. The excitement of seeing snow must have worn off quickly. Or maybe it never did.

When his father returned, he took his young wife and son to England. They lived there for a few years and thus the son was seven years old when he came back to his South India. He lived in villages in Tamil Nadu, in coastal fishing communities in Kerala and then the family ultimately settled down in a tranquil town known for it’s agreeable climate, Bangalore.

It was early 1966. He was 14 years old.

He had been double promoted twice. As a result, he came to the end of his school days , easily the youngest in his class. And so it was that he moved out on his own to attend Christian College at the age of 15. Christian was a long way away, outside  Madras and so, away he went. He was beyond confident. Justifiably or not, it held him in good stead.

His best friend Fats and him were inseparable. Then, on a day like any other,  Fats died in a motorcycle accident. He was running out to a shop less than two minutes from his place for a snack or cigarettes, something that could have waited.

The loss was immeasurable and it left the young man with an immediate problem. He did not know how to contact Fats’ family. They were elder people from a far away village. Hardly anybody had a phone at the time.

So, he got hold of a car.  And in the baking heat of the Tamil Nadu summer, he drove all day long, his dead friend sitting shotgun.  He could smell the flesh decomposing and the body kept slipping this way and that but he got his friend home.

It was another time.

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