The Pen Warriors – Post 4
Too Late For Atonement – Chapter 3
As his bedside Orpat clock raced towards midnight, the uneasiness in Cyrus increased. He had been trying to decide for the past one hour how this year he could possibly avoid the ordeal which was waiting for him.
Should he lock himself up in the bathroom? Or hide in someone else’s room? May be the deserted recreation room downstairs was the best hiding place. Only if the end-semester examinations were not scheduled at this time, he would have stayed out of this place each time, he thought gloomily.
Cyrus continued to stare ahead on the opposite wall, where remnants of Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai and Salma Hayek gave him company. The laptop in front of him was inviting him to websites with photographs of a variety of women but he could hardly concentrate. The cupboard on one side of the tiny room lay open, its contents overturned. Cyrus had been trying to look for a really old T-shirt and shorts which he did not mind sacrificing in the ensuing event. At that moment, his scowl could turn a living being into ashes.
Suddenly, there began loud, continuous knocks on his door.
“Cyrus, open the door.”
“Oye Cyrus, 12 baj gaya. Darwaja khol be.”
“Jaldi khol, wait mat karwa.”
With a resigned sigh, he approached the door.
A loud chorus greeted him with “Happy Birthday!” The sea of smiling faces of his classmates and seniors did nothing to lift his mood or wipe away the scowl from his face fully. He was dragged out of his room and taken to the terrace of the boys’ hostel.
A metal table with cheap laminate top, taken from one of the rooms, had been laid out with food and drinks – chicken kebabs, mutton chops, peanuts, potato wafers, KFC chicken wings, 3 bottles each of Blender’s Pride and Old Monk and 5 crates of Kingfisher Strong.
As part of the birthday celebration tradition of National Law School of Delhi, Cyrus was first made to gulp down a bottle of beer at one go amidst loud, rhythmic cheers of “Daruwalla”. After he emerged chocking and coughing, he was suspended in air from his arms and legs, while the boys counted and kicked his buttocks and back with the enthusiasm and glee of an energetic five-year old.
After 22 birthday bumps, his t-shirt lay torn, revealing red welts on his extremely fair back. He winced as he was put down on the ground. Boys who had already started finishing the bottles were now singing ‘Happy Birthday Cyrus’ in loud choruses.
One of them demanded a birthday treat at China Wall, the newly opened restaurant in the vicinity. The rest thumped his back to show their support.
Cyrus was livid. At the boys’ hostel, each and every student’s birthdays were celebrated with the help of a common fund where contribution by all was mandatory. On top of it, one had to treat a certain number of boys, especially a group of senior boys to dinner at a good restaurant, even if one never interacted with them. Shameless freeloaders, Cyrus thought with disdain.
With a non-committal nod, he excused himself from his own birthday party, where everybody else seemed to be having a good time. One of the boys handed over his huge square-shaped spectacles, which had fallen off his nose during the celebrations and now had a broken handle. Cursing beneath his breath, Cyrus walked slowly back to his room, grimacing from the throbbing pain in his back. Once he was out of earshot, he swore loudly at whoever invented birthday bumps.
The corridors of the six-storied hostel building were deserted, with most of them up on the terrace. Cyrus stopped at the balcony outside his room and paused to let the cool night breeze soothe his body.
Cyrus’s thoughts wandered to his father’s memory, his first law teacher. He had been the one to encourage Cyrus to go through his briefs from a young age and offer his opinion. “Law is only logical reasoning. If you learn the art of logically deducing and explaining all that happens around you, you will master the law,” he used to say.
The knot in his stomach tightened. His always-jovial and loving father and one of the top lawyers of Mumbai was kicked out of the law firm merely on the basis of an allegation. A false allegation, thought Cyrus bitterly. Even after giving 25 years of his life to the firm, no one listened to his father’s protestations of innocence!
To escape the disgrace, his family was forced to relocate to Delhi. The Sunday walks on Chowpatty, fierce competition to finish his mother’s patrani macchi and the weekend lessons in law between the father and the son stopped. His father struggled to keep jobs while Cyrus struggled to cope with the brash and arrogant persona of people around them. When his mother could not be treated for dengue on time because they could not afford the medication, Cyrus realised how much their family savings had dwindled. Soon thereafter, his father died a broken-hearted man.
“Baba, I will never let you down,” Cyrus promised himself, for the hundredth time.
His month-long internship at Lex Juris, a leading law firm at Mumbai was about to start. He would soon finish what he had started a very long time ago.
This is what we, The Pen Warriors have for you in the first round of Game of Blogs. Wish us luck so that we can take our story into the second round 🙂