Brotherpur: History Repeated

It is the end of an important season in Brotherpur. And the beginning of another: the season of sobriety and fasting. It is a time when the lolling cows are swarmed by armies of mosquito-pilgrims. They have arrived fresh from the drying swamps nearby.

The mosquitoes have come for their annual bovine Eucharist.

This is the time when the dark swamps of sewage overflow have begun to sink into the earth. Like colour from a chameleon's skin. The colour of the new season is dirty green. More dirty than green.

Sandwiched between two dirty greens is Ring Road, tar-black, and in parts, grey with dustings of yellow earth. Ring Road is not like the other roads of Brotherpur.

Ring Road is Brotherpur's new, improved jugular.

And it sniggers at those who have no use for it. It sniggers at the old and the ancient who hang over Brotherpur. It sniggers in its many motor voices and its many changes of skin colour.

Ring Road is fast speed and upward movement.

The infrequent silences of Ring Road are filled by laughter from Budge House. Budge House too sniggers in many voices. Many colours.

Budge House is the house of laughing birds.

The budgerigars at Budge House laugh a lot.

Budge House is also Blue House for it is blue, like navy blue. Not military green but navy blue. The budgerigars are under military rule. A teeth-coloured plaque names the owner of Budge House. He is an RETD. LT. COL., a man abbreviated and exed by his employer of over 40 years.

The RETDLTCOL is also called 'Miltree Sir' by those who work for him.

Miltree Sir's five dogs, one of them a trained-to-kill Rampur hound, have very low tolerance for Balloon Man.

Balloon Man passes Budge House everyday at 12 noon on his creaky old Atlas cycle. He doesn't use Ring Road because he thinks he isn't fast enough for it. He only uses Ring Road's folded-arm of a service lane.

Listen to him. Here he comes… 'Namaskar. This is All Indi-ya-ya Radio.'

He is never late. 'It's five seconds past 12 O…'

The budgerigars have stopped laughing. 'This is A.I.R.'s Brotherpur Service…'

What colour balloons has he got today? 'A duet by Lata Mangeshkar and…'

Can we choose? 'From the film…'

The blue, pink and white one for boy who's just turned two. A whistle for the snotty girl. A winking mask for the…

'The song has been requested by Pup-poo and his mother and his friends Bub-loo, Pin-key, Chee-knee and Good-do from…'

Lay-jow, lay-jow bail-loon lay-jow.

The Balloon man is singing his 'take-away' song. Miltree Sir's dogs have also joined in. With their clenched teeth and angry snarls they are following Balloon Man and his bicycle as they cross Budge House. Balloon Man's bicycle is covered with a huge rubber and plastic veil. There are guns, bugles, horns, wind-up cars, TVs with scrolling screens, whistles and dumroos. Long wavy balloons trail over him like Medusa hair.

'Phishoeeow… phishhh'.

'This is All Indi-ya-ya Radio's Brotherpur Service. And now the news headlines in English…'

People match their clocks to Balloon Man's arrival. He's only missed once, since he started business at Ring Road.

The Ring Road has teeth. They are white and rock-solid. The white rocks show only at the edges, where the road grins. Its gums are dusty patches of grass. Clearings in the grass are filled with water and moss. When the moss breathes tiny bubble domes appear on the surface of the dirty green water.

People like Balloon Man get hurt when they get too close to Ring Road. Balloon Man knows this from painful experience. A twisted ankle and a twisted wrist. And five bicycle wheel spokes in his back like Bhishma Pitamah's. That was the only time Balloon Man missed work. And missed it sorely for a whole week!

Ring Road had leapt at him like a hidden muggermuch. Balloon Man still doesn't know what really happened that day. He thinks his bicycle slipped on a clearing of moss and water. He thinks he is 'accidental' because of his stars. But in truth it was the new, improved Brotherpur getting its back on the old.


  1. At first read, I find parts of this quite disturbing. I have to take time to mull over. Reread. Ponder.

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