If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Dec 24, 2009

Michael

There was Small Michael. Big Michael. Mike. Cycle Michael and Michael Bandy. The original bad boy. Named Bandy for the bow legs he's been born with. Said epithet used when Michael was beyond earshot. Three times over.Trouble found him even when he was running full tilt away from it. With teachers and peers. With neighbours whose fruit trees he'd raid. With hockey teams who sort to decapitate him before a match. Because with him playing all the eleven players of the opposition may as well have stayed home and done their cross stitch.

They'd gathered up outside the school gate to get him. In revenge for their defeat. With their instruments of revenge aptly their hockey sticks. He came out of the gate with school bag and nothing else. The dust cleared to the attackers on the run with one of their hockey sticks in Michaels hand. Those were odds of four to one that he emerged from. He was a year ahead of us at school. The teachers thought him notorious while to us he was famous. A legend.

At assembly pink slips were given out for major infractions of school rules. Michael was called upon often. Until the applause started. Everytime he was called up the whole assembly would burst out clapping.

Every Christmas we'd go for the Christmas tree to the gymkhana. Where there'd be a huge Christmas tree. With presents under it that Santa would come around and distribute.. Games, that rarely went beyond the lemon and spoon race, or sack race or a three legged race. The lemon and spoon was solo the sack race was solo but for the three legged race you needed a partner. From your age group and sex. Michael and me won it with yards to spare. Inspite of me.

In the corridors of St. Stanislaus my stature was big. Because Michael knew me and would say hi to me by name after I'd shouted out a hi Michael that even the teachers in St. Joseph's could hear. The next year it was the wheel barrow race. Which we won hands down. Michael had his hands down while I held his legs and held on for dear life while he raced us to victory.

The next Christmas he didn't show up for the Christmas tree . I' d still see him in school. He still said Hi. His legend was larger. Out of school he dropped off the radar. The grapevine brought news of him joining the oilfields. Of the fear his fellow riggers held him in. It started to go bad with substance abuse. White powders on bits of foil destroying he whom the god's themselves had lifted up. Till he found religion. Where his Thor like strength and determination was channeled into setting up stages and seating for prayer meetings and fellowships.

Then he was gone. Drowned in a well at Gorai where he'd gone for a picnic. With rumours abounding. How he'd been done in. He was too good a swimmer to drown. How an old enmity had caught up with him. Or that he'd been drunk. Or back to the powders.

Wild, free spirited, rebellious, dangerous, hard, tough you could run out of adjectives with him. But he was the guy who won races with me at the Bandra gym Christmas tree and in my years in primary school made me ten feet tall.

 

12 comments:

The Cloudcutter said...

Intensity is always brief.
Nice one!

Saltwater Blues said...

Merry Christmas Clem!

NoSiNneD said...

....stories that my dad told me......

mentalie said...

you make michael sound a bit like james dean and a bit like this verse by edna st. vincent millay...
my candle burns at both ends
it will not last the night
but ah my fellows and oh my friends
it gives a lovely light...

The Cloudcutter said...

Happy 2010 Clem! How's the frunky family? Gave Dad your book to read. He's stuck to it like glue :-)

Shanu said...

Aww..I had goosebumps reading this.

Loved the last line :)

clemde@gmail.com said...

nosinned:- your Dad knew MIchael ?
mentalie:- when I hear verses like this I promise myself to read more poetry. Never hapens. Saltwaterblues does a [ as Russel Peters would say ] mindblasting photo poetry blog. I think you'll like it.
Shanu:- Thank you.

keith p said...

good ol bandy!!!great guy, awesome heart!! cant ever forget him... RIP bandy!

desigirl said...

Clem! I knew the softer side of Mike! Thank God...he revered God and respected us women! God bless him..may his soul rest in peace.

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Anonymous said...

One year they had a boxing competition at Stanislaus. Sponsored by Coin Tea. I remember the match where Michael was to come on stage. Chants of Michael! Michael! and the opponent got shit scared - afraid of what he was going to get into. And then Michael came on stage. The match was over in the first round.

And then there was the time he brought a snake to school ..

Sad thing was I heard his father was a raging alcoholic and regularly beat him up. The jesuits tried their best to help him.

Anonymous said...

Michael was fascinated by snakes. On a class trip to Haffkine Institue, he stole two cobras from their display tanks, in the reception area.

Apparently he concealed them in his khaki canvas school bag and got bitten while on the school bus, on the return trip.

RR.