Aroba's Salad Days

S Waikhomba Mangang *

"Do you really want to do it," asked Tomba Hanks.

"Yes, I want to do it. It doesn't mean I don't love my parents," said Aroba, as they sat inside the tiny cyber café cabin.

Aroba was hugely inspired by Tomba's speeches on free society of the Western world. Tomba was an encyclopedia on arts, science, literature, philosophy and theatres of the West. Aroba loved whatever Tomba said and was determined to move to the West to learn the Western Philosophy. With agrarian economy back home, it was almost an impossible dream for Aroba, neither could Tomba help him.

Ideas, they say, germinate under pressures.

Aroba hit upon an idea to make himself available for adoption to any childless couple from the West. He came across a and posted his 'resume' on it with a big smiling photo, ignorant of the dangers of sharing personal details in a virtual world. ~

Name: Aroba
Age: 18 years
Sex: Male
Height: 5'4" (and growing)
Features: Squinted eyes that looks Caucasoid from side-views. Not so flat nose.
Aim in life: To be a good son and learn Western Philosophy.
NB: Childless English couples are preferred. ~

"Anything to be real has to evolve. And since God has not shown any evolution in years, it can be safely concluded that God is not real"
"Well, this is according to the philosophy of Buddhism," continued Prof Chhavi Singh, course instructor as well provost of the college.
"Partly, I too believe in that"

"But ma'am, is not that belief an individual choice?" asked Rengnu.
"Yes, but if we are to exist as rational human beings, we can't be stubbornly blind to the reality. Can we? And the reality is that God is not a part of our evolutionary process. Well, Miss Rengnu, what makes you believe so much in God?"

"Ma'am, my belief in God is my unflinching faith on Him," came the confident reply from Rengnu.
All these while, the class was wondering at Rengnu's smart and harmless debate with the provost of the college. Aroba wanted to be part of the debate but he could share less as he was being intrigued to know more from Rengnu and Prof Chhavi.

"So, how can you relate your faith with reality, Miss Rengnu?"
"Ma'am, how long have you been teaching philosophy?" asked Rengnu.

"Long before even you were born!", Prof Chhavi was pleasantly surprise to come across a question like that in her entire career. She inched towards Rengnu with anticipation for an answer.

"Ma'am, it's been only some weeks that I've come to know about you. I know nothing about you apart from the fact that you are my course instructor. Despite all these, I attend your classes because I've complete faith in you that I can learn new things from you. The same faith makes me believe in Him and a belief that He is there".

"Ma'am! You can't be real because we haven't seen you during our evolutionary process!" added Varun Kukreja sarcastically. The class broke down laughing.
"Varun, I'll get back to you but let Rengnu continue. She has a point in her explanation," Prof Chhavi smiled towards Varun.
"Ma'am, Varun too has a point. Not everything we see is real. Unseen things too can be real," said Rengnu.

Prof Chhavi was gripped by the beauty of Rengnu's explanation though she found it difficult to accept a new philosophy from a demure girl.
"And from where have you got these ideas?"
"Ma'am, that's the vicissitudes of my life that shaped my faith in Him. Also my mother has enlightened me about the things that I often ignore"
"Ok. So, you got these ideas from your mother?" asked Prof Chhavi.

"No, ma'am, my mother is an illiterate but educated enough to teach me about the things that govern our lives," Rengnu smiled at Prof Chhavi as she continued with her philosophy.

Aroba was blown away by the candidness of Rengnu. She spoke with élan devoid of any hubris that most girls of her age carry.
Rengnu never shared much about her. She maintained an aloofness from people around her without annoying them. She was friendly yet lost in her world. She hardly spoke to any members of the prayer group of which she was a regular member.

"I'll continue the class tomorrow. Miss Rengnu, you were good but let's see what happens tomorrow! Ha ha ha…" Prof Chhavi gave a broad smile that almost wrinkled her well-creamed broad face. She moved out of the class.

Aroba searched for his mobile. An sms was there already. It was from JK.
~Come to M. Bring that phajabi leishabi Rengnu. Waiting.~
"Rengnu, ngasigidi class loire. Canteen chatlusi dana?" asked Aroba.
"Oh! Aroba, ei thabak macha ama lei. Chatpa ngammoi"

"Eikhoi emanaba-na kourakpane-da. JK. Liz Noo…" Aroba pleaded Rengnu. After initial vacillations, she agreed to move. They walked along the boulevards that dot the University enclave. The weather was dry with almost no humidity. Autumn has finally dawned in Delhi.

"Hi Rengnu!", Liz Noo waved from inside with a pitched voice. People around her made faces but she didn't notice them. She ran towards the turnstile to receive Rengnu and Aroba.

"We were not expecting you to be here but we really wanted you to be here. Thanks for coming, Rengnu," JK offered the menu books to Rengnu and Aroba.

Aroba noticed another boy with a confused look seated already with JK and Liz Noo. Rengnu browsed through the menu book. Aroba could not understand any of those items written on the menu book apart from black coffee.

"Ok. Little introduction please," JK interrupted as Rengnu and Aroba as they ran their fingers to pick their choices from the menu.
"His name is Aroba and she is Rengnu. Both from Manipur, first year and fresh as mint!"
"Oh! Glad to meet you both," the other guy moved his hand forward for a handshake.

"Well, my name is Carl Reid Aibok Pyngrope. I'm from Shillong. Umm… my name is a bit long so you guys can call me C-R-A-P," smiled Carl as he pronounced his shortened name.
JK, Liz Noo and Rengnu could not hold back their laughter. Aroba could not understand what Carl meant.
"Crab haibadi waikhoo nattro?" Aroba enquired.
"Eesssh! Waikhoo-na Cee Ae Aar Bee-ne. C-R-A-P haibana… oops!" Liz Noo giggled and laughed like a Hyena exposing the tunnel of her oesophagus.
"Oh, Helloji! What's wrong with the Chinky Union? Lagta hain sab pagal ho gaya." Varun Kukreja asked as he joined them.
"Oh, Varun! Please come and join us. We are about to make orders," JK welcomed Varun.
"Tick your options please. Let me make the order," said JK.

"I'll have granita with no sugar and ice, salad with passion fruit, mochaccino with frothed milk, a pancake with cherry toppings, burger with extra salami. Only." Liz Noo announced as she ran her fingers over her hair. Aroba was shocked to hear the list, partly because it was long and partly because he didn't know what those items were.

"I'll have an egg-roll and a cup of black coffee," said Rengnu.
"I too will have a cup of black coffee," said both Aroba and Varun in unison. They looked at each other.
"Ok. I'll have a non-veg burger," JK said. The waiter arrived and took the order. In a short time, the items were populated on the table. Liz Noo had the largest share. She oozed oodles of contentment at the sight of the items on her plate.
"Patrik paraga chaba yamna ngammi-heh Liz Noo-se. Yoomdana namthiba ngari, apumba hawaijar, soibum lek'aga charaga, sidana granita, burger, salami… Seita!" Aroba murmured to himself.

"Aroba, by the way, are you a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian?" asked JK.
"I'm an everytarian," came the blank response. JK puppy-punched at Aroba as both giggled.
"Hmm… Rengnu, I loved your arguments today," said Varun.
"Thanks Varun, but that was just a flash. I did not mean to argue with my ma'am. It was mainly a discussion."

"But you guys know so much. How do you know so well?" Varun asked as he raised his cup to sip coffee.
"Varun, we know more than philosophy. We know about your Punjabi culture and many religions that you guys follow," said Aroba.
"Wow! How come you know so much about India… erm… I mean about us, Punjabis?" said a surprised Varun as he never expected 'chinkies' to know much about them.
"Varun, a very simple question for you. Tell me the constituents of an atom," asked Aroba.

"What?! It is neutron, proton and electron. Simple," came the response from an irritated Varun on being asked a high school question.
"How do you know that? I mean, have you ever gone inside an atom to know that?" Aroba continued.
"What rubbish is that? Of course, I know it since I learnt it," said a charged up Varun.
"Exactly, we don't need to go to Punjab to learn Punjabi culture or whatever!"

"Yeah man! We don't need to be in England to learn English," added CRAP.
"We don't need to be in Germany to eat burger," said Liz Noo as she cleaned up her plate.
"And we don't need to be in Ethiopia to drink coffee!" smiled Rengnu, a rarity.
"Guys! You all are mad! Ha ha ha…" Varun high-fived Aroba. Aroba responded back.

"Sir, bill."
The waiter handed over the bill along with fennel seeds and currants on a plate to JK.
"Guys, Doctrine of T2M2 would not be applicable to Rengnu and Aroba since both are new. But to rest of us, please contribute as per Doctrine of T2M2."
"T2M2? Karino adudi?" Rengnu asked Liz Noo. Aroba too did not know what T2M2 was all about.
"Rengnu, T2M2-se Tu Tera Main Mera haibane. Bill piramdai-da eikhoi T2M2 follow touwi," giggled Liz Noo.

Rengnu wanted to contribute her share but JK did not accept. JK, Liz Noo, CRAP and Varun paid the bill. Rengnu took a rickshaw to her hostel. Varun zoomed away with his bike. JK, Liz Noo and Aroba moved towards Vijay Nagar in an auto-rickshaw.
"Haanji, pachaas rupaiye dedo mujhe"
"Kya bhaiyaji, yahan tak forty rupees hain aur aap fifty le rahen ho," said JK.

"Nah ji. Naye rate lag gaye hain"
"Bhaiyaji, forty rupees rakhna hain ya police station chalna hain?!" shoulted an energetic Liz Noo after a heavy meal.
"Lo kar lo baat, aap to naraaz ho gaye. Chalo, de do." The auto driver took the money and drove away. The auto-rickshaw was brightly decorated. Aroba read the lines that were written at the back.


Aroba took the stairs towards his room. Tomba Hanks was deeply engrossed in his book. He did not notice the arrival of Aroba.

"Bhai Tomba, Dilli meesing-se karigino yamna kadar tourishe?" asked Aroba. He took off his shoes and placed it over the oriel window of the second floor beneath their floor. Tomba Hanks did not reply instead he gave a piece of paper with something written on it. Aroba read it.

1. Never share your problem.
2. No one is interested in your problem.
3. No one has got the solution to your problem.

NB: If you want me to be your agony aunt then I can be. But it would be a waste of time.

Aroba took the note and proceeded towards the cyber café to check any responses of the offer he made of himself. Aroba was excited to see a response from a lady from Derbyshire, England. He skipped some heartbeats while opening the comment box.
'Dear Aroba, I need a baby who is less than 18 months old. You are too young; for a rebirth'.

* S Waikhomba Mangang wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on January 04, 2013.

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