Monday, August 07, 2006

Asturas and Nivea creme

Every time I cut myself shaving, I think of this guy I used to know. I will refer to him as “H” since that was the first letter of his name and I’m not that interested in protecting his privacy.

I don’t cut myself shaving very often nor do I find it particularly traumatic when it does occur. This is because of H. I think of him and end up giggling even as I mop the blood.

H was not a close friend. Nor was he an enemy. We would fall into the category of ships that passed in the night approximately 20 years ago. I have no idea where he is, or what he’s doing. If he’s around, I wish him well.

He was an interesting character. His personal life was a melange of contradictions. He was an apostate muslim; an atheist who ate pork happily and imbibed alcohol with great dedication (especially if somebody else was paying for it). He also indulged in generalised substance abuse – in fact, he embodied the definition of the goofball, cavalierly mixing dexies, codeine, charas and smack.

He also borrowed money right left and centre. But he never returned the principal, much less paid interest. So I suppose he wasn’t going against the tenets of his religion in this regard.

H worked in the visual arts and he knew a lot about art and cinema. He was the first person who informed me that a Shia school of representational Islamic art existed. On one occasion, he pulled out some 19th century heirloom Isfahani pictures, which depicted the life of the Prophet (although the face was not drawn in any of them).

In other respects, he was more traditionalist. His folks were deeply religious. He lived with them and he generally invited a bunch of us home to participate in the eating of sewai and biryani on Id. Or indeed, on other occasions. He was a hospitable chap – if you stood him a drink, you were guaranteed lovely grub in return.

At home, he ate his halaal chaaps with as much enthusiasm as he did his French-style pork chops in restaurants. He was also a die-hard supporter of Md Sporting, which introduced a little variety into the endless MB-EB soccer debates of Calcutta.

And, he was also a traditionalist in that he believed in the Indian riff on the droit de seigneur. In other words, he enthusiastically perpetuated the tradition of banging the maid.

Now, India would be a very different place if a cross-sectional consensus on the desirability of banging the maid had not existed for centuries. Entire sub-castes are composed of little bastards, legitimised over time. These were all created by the tradition of banging the maid.

Indian history would be far less turbulent. So many of the protagonists of all those wonderfully fratricidial succession struggles would not have been conceived. Millions of sex-starved young bachelors would have gone virgins to their respective suhaag raats.

I doubt that H cared too much about either the tradition or the historical context. There he was, a sex-starved bachelor. There was his live-in maid, a relatively comely, and above all, willing young woman. So he banged her.

You may wonder why I knew about these aspects of his life in such intimate detail given that he wasn’t really a close friend. Well, you see, he had this rather irritating habit of offering graphic descriptions of his sex-life to all and sundry.

In fact, although his memory makes shaving nicks bearable, he also turned me off the use of Nivea crème forever. One time, he gifted the aforementioned maid a tin of Nivea. And, she responded with this deliciously flirtatious line about “did he think she really needed to improve her complexion?” So, he twirled his moustache proudly and leered and told her what he actually wanted to do with it. Etc. When I said that he was into substance abuse, I meant it!

I’d get the weekly bulletin of the H sex-life in grisly detail. I often wondered how much of it was true and how much figments of an outré imagination. That was until he ended up in hospital.

The maid's official swain happened to be a local barber. One night, when H was heading home, after his statutory drinking bout, he was accosted by Le Figaro. This was in the pre-AIDs era when straight razors were still the norm in hair-cutting saloons. And that was what the barber was wielding in his wrath.

Confronted by the flash of an astura and a roar of abuse, H turned to flee. He slipped and fell, flat on his face. Nothing loath, the lovelorn barber slashed away at the most prominently visible part of his anatomy. He slashed through H’s trousers and professionally etched a criss-cross design on H’s derriere. No major blood vessels were hit but H bled for weeks.

Unfortunately, buttock injuries are inherently risible. We visited him, as he lay on his face and groaned his way to recovery. We enquired sympathetically about the ease or difficulty of bowel movements (and other bodily functions). We pointed out the silver linings; razor scars on the nether cheeks are less visible than the same upstairs. And, at least the razor had been clean and hygienic and he hadn’t got tet in his anus.

People gifted him assorted patent piles medicines on the commonsense principle that these couldn’t do him harm and might actually do him good. And, we emerged and laughed ourselves silly after every visit.

Through it all, the maid was most solicitous. I suspect the relationship continued. But for some reason, he stopped talking about it.


Blogger km said...

Zigzackly was on the money about that coffee warning.

Minor picking of the nit, that should be an "ustara".

7:24 AM  
Blogger Kingsley said...

"tet in his anus" - ROTFL!

9:36 PM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

H should be thankful he didn't land on his back, with the consequent accessibility of certain areas to his rival's blade.


11:48 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Nautiyal said...

I am quite relieved your "ship passing in the night" fell bottoms-up on the ground... Otherwise, with a crazy foe armed with a razor, their are worse inconveniences than that of defecation.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

That was a great post

10:32 PM  
Blogger Neurojava said...


6:30 PM  
Blogger John said...

Liked this! Yeah, was wondering what Astura meant, it should have been "Ustara."


11:47 PM  

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