“I shit you not, this has to be the most dim-lit, rodent infected, foul-smelling place I have ever worked at. I ain’t calling this piss-bliss my office for long, you can have that signed on any damn paper you want.” I said, trying to get a ketchup stain off a uniform that barely had a name tag on it.
We had nothing to work with. There were two chairs that could split apart any damn day, the boot of an old abandoned Maruti 800 to keep our shit in, and an old ass music speaker that Akarsh and I had managed to preserve from ninth standard.
“Don’t seem that bad to me.” said Akarsh, my brother and best friend in the literal sense. I didn’t know if he was talking about our job or the song that was playing on loop. I could never know. He would never tell me.
Before I could get over my stained shirt, lay back and have a cigarette, he spoke again, this time with a screwdrivers in his mouth, trying to fix a flickering light bulb.
“…For one, the ghosts from my previous office were a lot more cocky. The ghosts here are probably just dead employees. Weak, pale and scared shitless.”
I was alarmed that he couldn’t see the irony in his statement. But then again, ten years ago he was sipping bubblies and the only screwdriver he went near had ice in it. What would he know about irony!
“And you don’t mind that? I would like to be around real men even if they are dead. Men who should have quit this God forsaken place long ago. I mean at least before the ‘whole death/ becoming a ghost’ thing…” I said, almost to check if he still hoped.
“And you don’t? Bullshit. What could possibly make you think that? We are here scrubbing toilets and fixing lights in a parking lot that hasn’t been used since Sachin last played, working at minimal wages for the government, without a break. You know why? Because there is literally nothing else we can do. So you better make a choice. You either shut your mouth and do your job or you stop giving a fuck and have beers. I made mine on 27th June 2021, exactly two days after I started working here. I have been at peace ever since.”
He made no eye contact during the whole thing. I guess it was yet another instance where his younger brother was getting on his nerves.
“In all honesty brother tell me one thing, if I tell you that you would eventually find your heaven, or bliss or whatever it is that you want in life, I mean apart from the bitches and coke, just that it would take your whole life to reach there, would you still fight for it?” I said, almost like a big brother, almost.
His eyes were dead. His shift was nearing its end. He couldn’t care less.
“I don’t know man. It all seems a bit confusing…I mean the last time I heard this shit was from my priest, and in no universe did he mention bitches and coke.” he said, yawning and laughing altogether; classic addict behaviour.
“Screw you Akarsh Pandit. I am as fit to be a priest as is your wife.” I said while packing my bag.
“Then screw her too.” said Akarsh, almost softly. The wife situation was a touch and go in his life. No surprises there.
I knew he didn’t give a shit. Our father, our fathers, had fucked us over way before we were even born. I mean they sent us to school alright, even got us the tools. What they couldn’t do was get us a fucking job!
So I work the nights, work the days and I never sleep. Nights are when I meet Akarsh, my only family, and the day is when I meet my crew.
Let me introduce you to my crew but before that first let me tell you why we do what we do.
So basically our holy ancestors were blessed with glass of water. Just a glass but enough for them and their children. But those greedy bastards, those greedy fucking bastards drank all of it in haste. They spilt some on their shirt, and wiped it off without a single fuck. What they forgot was that the glass was for them to share. It was our share that they wasted.
Now a person like Akarsh, would wake up from his sleep, look at the empty glass of water, curse his fate, have his drink neat, and go back to sleep. You would have already gathered that I am not like him. I stay awake the whole night, spitting out in the damn glass. Spitting hard and exhaustively till there is enough for all of us. And I am not alone. Nor do I have a single glass to fill.
Why you ask? So that people like Akarsh can become a big enough person to drink someone else’s spit. History is just a reminder of the grave mistakes that our fathers and their fathers before them, and their fathers before them, kept on making. We are not make going to make the same mistakes as our fathers. There is going to be enough water for everyone, even if costs us a whole lifetime. We are here to work. We are the working class.
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