We gulped. The sacred stones appeared and disappeared every time Rohit spun around.
Now we realized why the girls screamed. They had witnessed the blood-curdling spectacle of the sacred stones coming off from the river, soaring into heights dripping water, when Rohit leaped onto his feet.
The stones were still on his back, no… the dark stones they saw were his back, his bums.
His trousers had somehow ripped apart and all his background assets were up and exposed in bright sunlight. Dark. Grainy, but shining, as the girls noticed. Not a single thread leaped across that big gap from one torn edge of his trousers to the opposite.
It was plain murder.
Poor unmarried girls. They were studying the bums of a guy all the time. Another five minutes, the girls later shuddered, they would have come closer to connect the dots, decipher the mystic scripts and…perhaps… would even have touched them with the tips of their pens to demonstrate to others why a particular line pointed upward, why another got thicker as it moved, why a third curiously seemed like a human wart.
“Sir,” a girl broke down 11 hours after the impact, “We would even have thrust the same tip of the pen into our mouth, thinking. What would have happened then?” I shook my head. No idea. Never did it myself.
Think about Rohit, I wanted to ask the girls. It was these bums that they wanted Rohit to get up from; it was these bums that they demanded him to leave behind on the water; it was sitting on his very bums that they called it blasphemous. Now he had to lug them around with their unkind aspersions stuck on for life.
I looked at Rohit. All that cuticura powder, Wrigley’s chewing gum, zippers…my eyes welled up.
Poor guy was still whirling around without realizing that all the planets had spun out of his world. Let him whirl to his heart’s content, I sighed.
We stood there frozen to the ground. Soon it was customary time for his hands to check his hair, his back and… AND. His hands shuddered as if they had suddenly brushed a 44kv line at his back.
The sacred stones!!!
A series of hectic chemical signals leaped across the synaptic gaps, racing along his hands to convey the shocking message to the headquarters. His eyes popped out, his tongue thrust out. With a scream, Rohit’s body fell on its back, splashing the river all around; the sacred stones sank deep, and fell flat on the gooey river bed.
We too fell, but on our face, to bury our heads deep under the river and laughed our lungs out.
Half an hour of intense underwater emotional drama all three of us surfaced. Dawn and I looked like pity in human forms. I tried to cover his back with a plantain leaf Dawn had brought from somewhere; we carried him back to the deserted river bank. “Why sir?” Rohit sobbed. “Throw it away sir. The fireworks are over. What use in plugging my ears now?” he leaned on to my shoulders and burst into tears again.
The girls were tough.
“No sir, don’t argue for Rohit. No one can be that innocent or foolish. It was intentional. We almost fell for it. What would have happened if one of us also sat on them?” she asked.
Hmm…a pertinent question, even with all my experience I didn’t foresee the possibility of two persons sitting on the same bums. “And we don’t know why decent guys like you still root for someone like Rohit,” she said. See. One man’s poison is another man’s meat. What you heard just now was the final nail in Rohit’s coffin going in.
“What happened Rohit?” I asked later. “Sir, I might have seen it. But quite thoughtlessly I treated it like a stain and wore my trousers inside out.”
“You wore your trousers, which don’t have a single thread at the back, inside out thinking that it won’t figure at the other side?
He nodded his head mournfully.
After one year. The girls couldn’t concentrate on their work since the impact. They left one by one carrying the indelible and mortifying image of something dark, grainy but shining. The first English tabloid from the city was thus smothered to death even before it was born. Old men still say, it was the curse of the real sacred stones, still lying somewhere on the mountain.
NB: Before exploring the mountain, please check whether Rohit is away at his home, or on another planet.
(Rohit is a generic name I used to protect the identity of the person. He can be Rohit Gingiberis, Rohit Wallellala or Rohit Krishnan. He can be from Tai Pei, Belfast, Siberia or Pettah Sree Narayana Nagar (Third house on the left). I am sorry, but you must respect the privacy of individuals. Some journalistic ethic that I still hold on to).