Mukul Chakroborty stepped out of the cab and onto the sidewalk. It was unbearably hot. He turned the corner, fanning himself frantically with a newspaper and walked into Her. She was the stuff of dreams, nay, her beauty was beyond dreams even. This was who he had been waiting for all his life, this beautiful pilgrim of rarefied light. She was standing at the mouth of the Tunnel that led into the fish market and he had almost knocked into her.
He composed himself, this was big. “Breathe in, breathe out, relax, relax”, he muttered to himself. He reached out to tap Her on the shoulder when a large hammy hand clapped itself on his. “Arrey, hello hello Sirjee! How nice to meet you here! Buying fish, eh? Arrey hello Sevanti! You’re on time!” Mukul Babu shrank away from the strapping six foot tall young gentleman who towered above him and looked nervously at Her. She was smiling up at Arvind. He was appalled. “These girls, really, no brains at all, Arvind of all people! My God!” Arvind was the most gormless boy Mukul Babu had ever taught. Anyway, he was talking again. “Sirjee, this is Sevanti, my boss lady, model coordinator she is. I am doing modelling nowadays, you know?” He had not, in fact, known that. It made sense. “Oh, very good Arvind, you did rather well in sports, I remember. Much better than you did in Accounts.” The incredible hulk literally squirmed. “Oh never mind that, son, you’re doing well for yourself, I’m sure”. Arvind grinned sheepishly, reassured now that Sebanti would hear of no more embarrassing college stories. “Mukul Babu was my favourite teacher in college, Sevanti. Three years he taught me”. This was a blatant lie. Arvind had not attended many of Mukul Babu’s classes, only about one fourth. Half he spent punished outside class and the remaining fraction, he bunked. Mukul Babu could not quite see where this was going. “So Mukul Babu, I have come here for photo shoot. You have to come watch” , said Arvind and he dragged Mukul Babu into the dark labyrinth. Mukul Babu went sunblind for a few seconds before they stopped in front of a cleaned out fish stall. The raised concrete platform had been stripped clean of all piscine accoutrements, there were many men walking around looking busy, there were reflective sheets, neon lights and there was a photographer with a big camera. “Wow, impressive. Good work Arvind. Anyway, I must be off now”. “Heyy wait no, you can’t leave now, you have to watch everything! No, I insist”. With that Arvind jumped up on the exposed concrete slab and striking a heroic pose, took off his shirt. His face was lit up in the neon lights, bright red lips, glittering black eyes, beetling brows, the very picture of masculinity. Mukul Babu gaped. The photographer aimed and shot, aimed and shot. Somebody reached for a basket of fish and poured the glistening contents at Arvind’s feet. There were beautiful pools of light around Arvind’s head and feet, the rest shrouded in darkness. Arvind looked down at him and smiled, then the smile widened into a grin as he said, “Hello, Editor jee, why don’t you give Mukul Babu a chance to appear in your magazine? Hoist him up, let me take a few photos with him, you can use those too, no?” The editor seemed to think it was a good idea. “Oh My God! No! No! Please! I am old man!”, Mukul Babu’s pleas fell on deaf ears and several hands hoisted him up to the platform. Arvind gripped Mukul Babu and hoisted him up till they were equally high. It made for a strange but funny photo. The editor intended to use it, it would give his magazine the Human Touch without involving any breast cancer patients. Mukul Babu squeezed his eyes shut, he was truly sorry he had been so harsh on Arvind in college. He prayed for this humiliation to end. Next to his face, Arvind grinned. He’d been waiting for something like this to turn up for years.
A dialogue between a model and a proffessor, at a fishmarket.