He almost ran towards the gate on that dark staircase. Staircase had just a small zero watt bulb hanging from the cieling which made that slippery, narrow, uneven and full of paan spits stairs even more dangerous for a sophisticated twitter generation guy like him. It was not as if he was using that staircase for the first time, but mindset was different. Just when he reached that gate and started to walk on that well-lit alley, lost in thoughts, some horrific thoughts, a few teenagers passed by him. The younger one asked his companions, “100 rs mein kya karne degi”. One of the older one replied, “Beta aaj bakr-id pe abba ke diye paise se jo mil jaye ussi mein khush reh”. Then he saw affectionately towards his younger brother and turned towards Arnav and said “Bhai hai mera, aaj jawan hone wala hai”. Arnav just threw a fake smile at them as he was very habitual to do and kept walking.
Arnav, in a jeans and puma sweat-shirt, was looking a bit odd at that place full of salwar-kurta and namazi cap wearing lower middle class crowd. After every bad news, be it about career or about girls, he seek refuse in that hot and happening area of purani dilli adjoining jama masjid. The massage club of Shabana Begum was his favorit. He even gets a discount like regular flier’s discount in those flashy airlines. Business is business and incentive is incentive, isn’t it.
Few steps in desperation and his thoughts were broken by a sandal, his own sandal. A good looking prostitute threw it on him which he left there in hurry. Well, good looking from the standard of jama masjid. Nobody should get any ideas here, a good looking prostitute in purani dilli means a cross between Rakhi Sawant and your kaam wali bai, a bit flashy with a lots of un-necessary makeup, but can speak pretty nice english. As one of his friend used to say, they look like a dead cat, but a cat that you hold on to when your girl friend leaves you and you find that cat most loveable creature in the world, it loves you back, or atleast shows that it loves you until you keep filling its tummy on regular basis. He ignored that insult and continued his walk, naked feet. Does he knew where he was going, absolutely not, but he was certain about one thing, he wanted to die, no, no, not die, he wanted that somehow lightening should strike there and he should perish.
It was one of those self-realization moments in his life when the whole philosophy of life changes in one moment. One event, one taunt, one accident, one pattern or just one fraction of a scene in front of our eyes and bamm the life changes. He was forced to stop due to unmanageable traffic on that road, most of them rikshawpullers screaming at one another in rude language. He stood there for few seconds. A shopkeeper on the roadside asked, “bhaijaan dhoodh piyoge”. He noded and searched his wallet for a 10 rs note. Milk, or it could have been daaru, he didn’t seem to care. A few sips of that hot milk calmed him a bit. He started to think, either life is meaningless or the way he was looking for meaning was meaningless.
Arnav worked for a consultancy firm, in its front office, as a relationship manager. His main job was to satisfy the clients with their offering and keep them in good humour until the company is finished with the project. His MBA degree from a prestigious B-school ensured that he was considered very succesful among his friends and he himself took pride in the way he conducted himself in front of his clients. He followed a basic thumb-rule taught to him by one of his professors. “BE THE MIRROR” which means, your personality should reflect what client demands. This thumb rule has served him well for last 5 years, he has it on his whiteboard all the time. The current crisis started few months back.
He started to chat with one of his old aquintance, Apoorva, on facebook. It was just a matter of time when those random hi-hello got converted in long sessions of chats and sms-s and occasional phone calls. He felt that he was falling for the girl. All that violin music, uncalled for rain as suggested by Aamir khan in 3 idiots, also happened. So, one fine night, he told Apoorva indirectly that he likes her. But the girl was one of those “cool” girls who think that showing their feelings is a sign of decreasing coolness, so she kept him in dolldrums. He tried few more times but to no avail. This apparent heart-breaking process led him to that brothel after a long time and today’s events followed.
Begum offered him choices, bengali, nepali, punjabi, south indian or firangi. But she knew that it is a fruitless exercise, he was a regular and had a fix girl. Arnav got infactuated by her looks and somehow he liked her more than those 10000 rs callgirls, who dont even let you realise that they are prostitutes. Everybody searchs for girlfriend experience in prostitutes but he was always looking for prostitute experience as he had many girl frinds in past for that other thing.
Then she came in the room, asked him, “kaisi banoo aaj”. He said “aaj original hi raho”. After a little pause he asked, “I wanted to ask you for a long time, what is real you, sometime I find you very sophisticated and sometime very…”, just at this point he remembered something. His face become pale, he dreaded that second and prayed the God that let her answer be something else. What he remembered was one of his long chats, Apoorva asked him “I wanted to ask you for a long time, what is real you, sometime I find you very sophisticated and sometime very…”. He replied, “I am the mirror, I deal with lots of people, and I become what they want me to become”. Apoorva chuckeled and conversation went to other direction.
Today same question, and after few seconds finally that pretty prostitute answered “I am the mirror, I deal with lots of people, and I become what they want me to become”. Suddenly in the state of shocked realization, he fell on the bed. His life went in front of his eyes too quickly to comprehend what is going on. He remained there for a while. That girl unzipped his pants, removed his undergarments, but Arnav was too lost to notice all this. Was his whole life, his whole personality, which he was proud of, just a prostitutization of personality. What is the difference between him and that girl trying to arouse him. Character-wise, both can impersonate others for money, both can speak in a way their clients expect them to speak, both had no identity of their own. Remember man becomes what he does. Last time, something HE not his imposed personality, did, was so long ago, that he cant even remember that.
All this philosophical sparks did a round of his mind, while the pretty girl became upset over apparent inability of hers to arouse a regular customer. She got frustated and asked him to leave, though not in such soft words. You can not expect to hear good words from a seller when you are deadly disinterested in his/her product. So, There he stood at that milk shop, a modern prostitute, thinking about meanings and values in life, when he saw a simple weighing machine, a scale. He just looked at it. How the weight on one side was constant. Many and many came; took their stuff; measured it against that standard 1 kg weight and left; it remained same; it didnt change its value, even for most valued customer. Others were able to judge their value by comparing with it.
A light came to his eyes, he started to walk again, then a little faster, then start to jog, then ran like a child who has found the news of new toy at home. He ran for few hundred meters then took a rickshaw, then metro to go back to his 3BHK apartment in Gurgaon. He went to his bedroom straight, and first thing he did was to login to facebook to tell Apoorva about his new orientation. He just wanted her to understand the real Arnav one last time, and if reply is still no, he would stop trying, he thought. Once he wrote a long message to her, the second thing was to erase and re-write on his whiteboard. Now his whiteboard says “BE THE SCALE”