This is a new series in Freekick where you see popular characters from life and fiction walking across my only life, without anyone particular around me seeing their trailing glory.
We sat glumly in our chairs, seething, boiling, wishing intently that a freak bolt of lightning might fall upon the other. Nothing of the sort happened. We just glummed for nothing. Actor or boxer, one must pick rudimentary lessons in behaviour if one ever wants to be something, especially a personal trainer. Shashi. I gnashed my teeth as that name once again pops up in my mind. How easily the glib politician had talked me into taking this pompous prick in as my fitness instructor!
I raised my eyes and glared at him again. One must be a numbskull to accept an actor as a trainer, and that too Mammootty. The moment our eyes got tangled we both turned away in disgust, grunting volubly.
At least I should have heeded what I had read about him in a million film magazines. An artist so plain and upfront with his customers, he unabashedly prides himself over the silly fact that he is the only man in this universe who could call a spade a spade. What else do other people call a spade? Pendulum! Shashi!!! I gnashed my teeth again. What did he tell me!
“Oh Manu, don’t believe all the crap that journalists write about Mammooty. He is just choleric and solicitous. But basically he is immaculate and impeccable in character. Only that his conviviality is not coruscant or splendiforous and may not match your idea of ”
“Enough!!!,” I cried, suddenly remembering how distant the shelf on which the nearest dictionary was, and that too a pocket-sized one. “Send him please…” I said in an urgent tone and hung up. Phew!
“I think… err…I will have two iddlis,” I pluck some courage and mumbled, looking down on the floor but fully aware it was a well qualified opening gambit of a heated debate. Anything can happen now!
Mammootty lifted his head from the newspaper, stared at me for a while, studying how I could have such cheek to tell him ‘iddli,’ then leaned forward, and thumped hard on the table.
“Iddlies!!!! You say iddlies!!! No!!!!! Iddlis are carbs!!! Poison!!! You have to work like hell to burn that up! You won’t do it, I am sure! So NO!!!”
“Ok. But, why are you yelling, Mammootty! You are my personal trainer, not my wife, are you?”
“Was I yelling! Was I yelling!” he threw his arms up theatrically, the newspaper slipping out of his hand, flying over his head to the back of his chair. He jumped to his feet. “Yes! yes! I yelled, but don’t you understand why I yelled!” After a few moments of nervous shuttling around our dining room in long nervous strides, he managed to pull himself together, slowed down, and finally came to a grinding halt beside me. “Ok, ok, I was yelling,” he admitted giving me a bit of an edge in the argument, “You know Manu, I always have this habit of calling…”
“A spade a spade?”
He nodded and bent closer to my face. “But just one iddli. I am not yelling now ok, but you can take only one iddli, and,” he straightened and turned to my wife’s direction, “please don’t give him chutney or sambar along with that particular iddli I mentioned.” Divya nodded and hustled to the kitchen. I stared after her.
“So in what should I dunk the only piece of iddli I get? Plain water?” I tried my best to fight back the tears that began to percolate in my eyes. I looked down. The iddli in my plate oddly had the size of a ten-rupee coin, no, a little more than that, a coin drowned to death for two weeks, fished out to a plate and found to be a bit engorged with water. That’s my only iddli all over. No mastication needed, I could tell by the size of it, the iddli would melt at landing. Damn! I cursed myself for my poor choice in life. I should have listened to my friend Aji who told me only that morning. “Hmm…Mammootty… Well, it’s your choice after all. But if I were you, I would have called Mohanlal for the job, Manu. He’s kinda easy with food and exercise. Moreover, you won’t understand what he tells you even if you shoot him with the straight question of whether you can take beef. You can interpret him to your heart’s choice at the end and eat beef. Mammootty, you know…” Aji hesitates, “hmm… I am not picking holes, but eh…” and then says, “he just comes at the face.”
In the kitchen, Divya pinched me on my arm real hard.
“Ouch!” I cried. “What’s that for!”
“See how he is even at 68! You’re 22 years younger, but don’t look a day so.”
“Full makeup Divya, complete makeup!, I whispered on her ears, “He is an actor. He is acting up. After all, he is an artist.”
“Do you want me to believe that his zero size tummy is also part of acting! Can you confidently tuck your shirt in like him?”
“But I don’t have any tummy,” I protested but not before sucking in all the air in the kitchen.
“Then tell me where the knife is?”
“How do I know!!!” I looked around. “You might have misplaced it somewhere.” Suddenly, I had a hunch there would always be a rusty edge to a wife’s question in the morning. I sucked in more air and peered down. Couldn’t spot it still. I turned to her. “What has that to do with my belly!”
“Here it is,” she pulled a knife out from the table right beneath my belly with a flourish only Magician Muthukad could do as he unsheathes those sabers from inside the bellybuttons of those beauties.
“You didn’t see it, because it was hiding all the time under your paunch,” Divya snarled, making her point.
I introduced the new trainer to my colleagues. “Well, not going to the canteen?”
“Yes, we were waiting for you,” they replied, smiling towards Mammootty and then motioning him to tag along in our usual walk to morning tea.
As the canteen chettan came to take the order, Mammootty, quite bashfully whispered in my ears. “No sugar.”
I turned to chettan: “Mammootty doesn’t need sugar in his tea.”
But Mammootty was quick on his feet. “We both don’t need sugar in our black tea!”
“But I take sugar!” I started.
“NO! No. Sorry, I am not yelling. No sugar, no milk. For both of us. It is part of our fitness program.”
Pullu! I should’ve called Mohanlal first, I fought back my tears again, the second time that morning, seeing my colleagues savour tea and banana fry.
“I like your film ‘Ponthanmada,’ Jijo said, as part of engaging the new man in town.
“Oh, it was nothing,” Mammootty replied, his face in blush.
“Yes, it was nothing,” I said with a cruel glee, wiping my tears with the back of my hands. Then I remembered something.
“That’s the one film he acted without his makeup. Ha ha ha…” I guffawed insolently, sadistically, cruelly, just to see him smart with pain. That’s is a beautiful joke, coming from an HoD, but sadly no one, not even Remya, who laughs out even at the drop of a hat, joined me in my merriment. Brats!
“But I got a lot of awards for that,” he said, sipping his tea.
“Yeah,” Mammootty turned to me, gratified. “‘You’re right. Unda’ might also bring in some awards.”