Monday, February 22, 2016

Episode II: Celebrating Life, Celebrating Friends.

When I left for India, my father told me that I should refrain myself from discussing about religion, that India was not in a mood to discuss liberally about Hindu-Muslim conflicts. He also advised me not to eat anything which I would be offered by passengers in train. 

I would discuss and read about various religions, and eat what I was offered by strangers, I guess, I am lucky in that ways. 

Imam at his best. 
It was one of those classes of Engineering Graphics. I was in first year and we would go to  our classes with Mini-drafters, imagining it to be AK-47, felt like a military personnel then. I was admitted late and though my roll number was 21, I was seated on the second last table. It was a big hall and this was second class for Engineering Graphics. 

It was already second week in Warangal, and I didn't like the place much, then, today I long to go back there. It was always hot and we would say, "only two seasons in Warangal, summer and super summer". 

I was there in class and two new boys entered. One I could make out was a Muslim and one was just like some withered Chappati (Roti). The Muslim guy, being Muslim wasn't at all what we had in our minds about Muslims, he was smiling all the time and he was acting very funny. This Muslim Guy was talking more than the withered Chappati fellow. The Muslim guy asked me, what's my name and where I was from? I bluffed telling him that I was from China. He didn't buy it at all. 

Then we would talk for a while and he would bother me like shit, asking what and how the drawings were made, and I got very annoyed. When it was lunch time, he said, let's go out for a smoke. It was funny to find a Muslim guy smoke. I had never seen one in my life before. Then I would learn that his name was Syed Baquer Imam. He would limp as he would walk, and I would realize that he have had polio, when he was young. It was too sensitive to talk about that topic, i thought. He had a cycle and I was slightly chubby then, and I had to ride along with him. He took me outside the campus and I got worried, whether I would get robbed or nicked. He rode that cycle and few minutes later, we would buy some cigarettes and some snacks, and go towards a lake. It was that lake, he introduced me to. There we  sat and smoked talking about ourselves and we got back to college. 

We were first year kids, Imam and I became friends and it was through him that I learned how misunderstood Muslims were. There was a time, when I wanted to buy a laptop and the shopkeeper took advance. Laptop didn't get materialized and I wasn't getting my money back. When he came to know about it, he took me to that shop and fought with that shopkeeper and got that money. He handed me that money, and I still remember, how he yelled till we reached college. He would tell me how crooked people were in India and it wasn't Bhutan, that we trusted everybody blindly (no rocket science in there). 

Then in order to buy a new laptop, we went to Hyderabad, he accompanied us and there was this Bangladeshi guy as well, Arnab. He didn't know Imam like I did. I was vegetarian then and Imam took us to those little Ghettos of Hyderabad, whereby I was tempted to eat chicken and puked all along. Arnab was dead scared that he might get mugged. Jamyang didn't bother at all. 

During the days of Ramzan and Eid, Imam would invite us to his house and we would celebrate. That is something I miss today, I miss dishes cooked by his mother. Imam's father had expired and was previously working in our college. When Imam studied with us, everybody knew him. At first, people didn't like him because he has this knack of acting too friendly, with time, they see the good part of him. He really is a good man. 

He isn't that smart however, but he is way too emotional. He has his swag and he is funny. Imam was always there, always there for me and my Bhutanese Friends. He knows how to say Jdha. 

The first time he said that was funny. A girl came to our college and she had her sister and her mother. They were in our room and I saw Imam coming towards our room while I was in corridor. Imam saw me from far and started to shout, of course limping and his right hand waving like some Japanese animation character, he said: Da.... wa....... J...dhaa...... Da... wa.... J... dhaa...... 

I had to run towards him and make him stop. To this he reacted, what's wrong? Jammy ney bata ya ki Jdha ka matlab, OH MY GOD hai... (Jamyang - whom he called Jammy because of his not required swag, told him that Jdha meant oh my god). I was laughing all along, and it still makes me laugh. 

Imam was very fond of Jamyang, and Jamyang would call him Chota Don. While he visited our hostel, when we had juniors, Jigme Yonten who was close to us, Imam would always call Jigme as Chotu. And always teased him telling that Aaj, Chottu ka Ragging lena hai (Today, we will rag this infant). But Imam, although being a year senior to our Juniors, never did care whether he was called Sir or Acho or Aue, because none of them called him that. He was directly called Imam. 

Imam never takes things to his heart, he however got mad when people would back bite about us. He would fight with them for us. He is anti-Jihad and says that Jihadis don't understand Islam. He refused to give a copy of Koran to me, for he respects Koran and reason being - I might be treating Koran as any of my books. Imam belongs to that section of Muslims who read Koran in Mosques, you know those voices which wakes you up early in the mornings? That sect of Muslim. We would joke about he being Muslim and he would never mind, he would laugh if he found them funny and he would explain if we were wrong. An Indian friend even joked about his limping and he didn't mind, instead he laughed on that joke. He was told, one leg was already in the grave. That was mean, but Imam did find it funny. 

Jamyang with Imam.
Both of them don't know shit about Guitars. 
Imam has always been there for me, even when I had tumor, which might have caused me cancer later stages. When we skype or call each other, Imam, me and Jamyang, we always start our conversations with all the slang and cuss words and insult each other, alot. Sometimes, Hindi slang words (galis), can do pretty much good job than English words ever will. Imam always smokes when he is on camera, he has that cocky swag still. When college was over and he wasn't placed, Imam being Imam, Manvendhra from Nepal helped him to make his passport so that he could leave for Georgia. He worked there for few years and he is back in India. 

When I look back, I miss my college days. It won't have been that interesting, if Imam wasn't around. Imam taught me that it doesn't matter what your religious background is, or where you belong from or what odds life has for you, or how hard life can get at times, Imam has taken everything positively and melodramatically (like the time during his state farewell, he wore shades so that people won't see his eyes tearful- a classic cliche from Telegu movies). If you had graduated from NIT Warangal during 2007 to 2011, I am pretty much confident, that you knew Imam. 

Oh, and he is that engineer who flunked mathematics, never forget that Imam. He, Manvendhra (Nepal) and Arnab (Bangladesh), they all had flunked mathematics. First Mavendhra went inside our Lecturer's chamber and told that he was weak in Maths and confessed that Binomial theorem was something out of Nepalese syllabus (to gain sympathy to pass), it turned out that Manvendhra was taught Binomial Theorem for two freaking hours. When Arnab went inside, telling that he was from Bangladesh, he got scolded and Imam could never get in. That year, 2008 summer, they had to suffer in Super Summer of Warangal. 

When I was gone to India, I met with many good folks. People who actually cared that we might have bad impression about their nation. Like Imam, there were other Indian friends who were nice to us. Like Anupam Chawan Singh, who came from UP, who vouched for us. Ravinder from Delhi.

The last time I saw Imam was at Kazipet train station, whereby he came to see us off. After that, it was skype and it still amazes me, he surely can curse a lot and me too. I haven't lost that touch of potty mouth student which I was back in college. 

Imam still wants to visit Bhutan, and he has never changed his statement since college days: When I come to Bhutan, I will get you boxes of Cigarettes. I still hope, he understands that he will be imprisoned if he does that. I however wish to see my friend here in Bhutan. I just hope, his not so important swag doesn't land him up in trouble, while he comes to Bhutan. Apart from my college mates, Tashi and Yangchen, none of my other Bhutanese friends have met Imam. I am sure when they meet him, everybody will laugh their asses off. He is a funny chap. It is friends like them, I feel that I have in my life, that has inspired me all along.

1 comment :

  1. It was great meeting Imam and knowing him more through your blog. Feels like it was just yesterday. I can never forget some of the funny things that happened at the park area. I hope he visits Bhutan soon and look forward to meet him again. ☺