Venu—reading a book, understanding just a little of what the writer had conceived.
Venu—brushing his teeth, enjoying the sprinkle from the shower, soap in the eyes.
Venu—having his breakfast, upma with mango pickles, saliva sprouting.
Venu—driving to work, flowing with the traffic, keeping safe distance, seeing everything…
I feel so alert today, hovering a few feet above myself and watching
what I am doing, like watching a person not myself
negotiating a world in which I have no part and yet
someone by this name I know is playing out a role and I see his emotions
those are not mine
and feel how he feels when the wind blows on his face and hear what he hears
when they honk the horn…
—this person who is not me…
This takes me to something I had noticed in a childhood friend. Parameswaran is his name. He has this habit of referring to himself in third person only.
“When Parameswaran was in the town today, a sudden thought struck him. Why not buy a kite for Venu,” I remember him saying once, giving me a kite.
He is some 10 years older than me.
It is said that when I was a very small kid—just beginning to walk, perhaps—I had urinated in a glass that was there on the kitchen floor.
And Parameswaran took a good gulp of it thinking it was coconut water, emptied into the glass when mother broke coconut for use in the kitchen.
“Parameswaran still remembers the taste of Venu's urine,” he would say whenever we meet, even after many years. It is not he, but someone by the name Parameswaran who still remembers that old incident.
It is always someone else, a third person, who is experiencing everything.
I remember him once falling from a tree and spraining his ankle badly. Other boys playing with him surrounded him and started trying their crude methods at setting the sprain right, holding him by the toe and shaking the leg and twisting the injured ankle this way and that.
He howled out, writhing in pain: “Hoooo-hooo-huhuhooo…you will kill Parameswaran! Please leave Parameswaran alone!”
And he was also giggling with merriment over Parameswaran’s plight, laughing, even as he was screaming out in pain.