Mumbai Fable

May 15, 2015 at 9:15 PMMay (Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy, Uncategorized)

Last week at the Sahayana Sahityotsava, friend and a fine scholar Arun Joladkudligi mentioned about modern folk stories that have come into circulation in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region which reflect people’s fear, distrust, suspicion and aversion towards city. As he spoke I was reminded of a story a small boy had told me two years ago. Today after watching the film Bombay Velvet I am reminded of the boy and the story again. So here I share it…

It was in the month of February. Year 2013. Taking my plate, in the mess, I went and sat with Com. Kislay who was having dinner with Lakshman, who then was lesser than 10 years of age. Lakshman’s father works at the FTII mess, hence Lakshman was on campus being loved, pampered, irritated by almost everyone. Later he was put to a boarding school with the help of Com. Kislay and few other students.

lakshmanSo on that night when I went and sat with Com. Kislay and Lakshman I was asked by Com. Kislay how I was doing and what was happening in class. It was just few days before the Screenwriters Conference-2013 in Mumbai. We, the students of SPW Department, were expected to attend and for extremely personal reason I was reluctant to go. As I was explaining all of this- the compulsion to attend the conference, my reluctance to go – to Com. Kislay, Lakshman who was eating roti asked me, “daadaa aap Bombay jaa rahe ho?” (brother, are you going to Bombay?) and when I said “haan” [yes] he widened his eyes saying, “aapko pata hai,” (do you know) and then immediately twisting his wrists his fingers his arms and squinting his eyes also, acting paralyzed, said, “wahaan pey aisey aisey log hotey hai,” (there are such people there) and added, “woh log aap ko touch karengey toh aap bhi waisey ho jaaogey.” (if they touch you even you will become like that.)

Saying this he went back to his roti and sabzi. I looked at Com. Kislay who was still looking at Lakshman wondering what he meant by what he had just said and what prompted him to say so. Those were my questions too.

Lakshman, I guess, must have (over)heard quite a lot of modern folk tales about Bombay and the harsh life there. He must also have heard about the “moral corruption” there which is always the non-metro perception about metros and non-urban folk about the urban space. So he must have heard all these stories and in his mind had made a picture of people in Bombay being tedha-medha (twisted) and not seedha (straight). Interestingly in his mind this twisted-ness was contagious.

My favourite quote about Bombay has always been that of K.A. Abbas who said, “Bombay is a state of mind.” But Lakshman with his fable said that “Bombay is a state of being.”

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