Back in the day, a dashing young man, let’s call him Guy, was riding his bike, late at night through the roads of the majestic city of Trivandrum. He was going to a place called Varkala, which is about 50 Kms from Trivandrum Central. Just before he reached Pettah, an old man thumped for a lift and Guy obliged. As it often happens during hitch-hiking, the Guy and the old man started talking. They talked about the conditions of the road, the speed of the truckers, the arrogance of the beat cops… you get the idea. As soon as they reached the intersection near Chakka, Guy turned around to ask the old man which direction he wanted to go and much to his shock and surprise, the old man was not there anymore.
Guy thought may be he got down while they stopped at any one of the several red lights on the way, he felt a little bad that the old man said neither thanks nor goodbye, a violation in the unwritten codex of hitchhiking. Pondering over selfish nature of human beings in general, Guy spurred on. Somewhere along the way, he had a sudden realization. There are no red lights past 9:30 pm in Trivandrum.They never really stopped nor slowed down on the way. How the hell did the old man get down! Guy broke a cold sweat broke over the idea of the old man falling off the bike at some point during the ride and instantly felt guilty. Guy drove on for another 40 minutes and he reached his exit at Kallambalam, this is where he would take a left so he can go to Varkala.
Suddenly he was tapped on the shoulder.Shocked and surprised, he turned around and saw the old man sitting right behind him saying, “Stop right here, I think that lorry is going north, I’ll ask them for a lift” He got down and jogged ahead before Guy could even say anything, the old man turned around and shouted, “Thanks for the ride, God Bless.” and jogged into the darkness. Guy did not see any lorries anywhere near by.
Guy was absolutely shocked and a little scared. He rode home as fast as he could, fixed himself a nice strong whiskey, and went to sleep trying to forget it ever happened. Three weeks later, Guy told this story to one of his friends and almost as soon as he finished the story, he had a fatal stroke and died at the ripe young age of 28.
Now this story, was concocted by one of my classmates during a college tour. The whole incident happened while I was doing by Bachelors in Engineering. We were on a bus, it was late at night and we were passing by Kallambalam, and there was an assistant professor with us, a very attractive young lady, who was also incidentally 28 at the time and lived near Pettah. The intend of the story, of course was to scare her and for some reason we thought it would be fun, and it was.
Fast forward a few years, I graduated, got a job, worked for a few years, and went back to the same old college for my Masters. The attractive young assistant professor no longer worked there, neither did most of the teaching staff who was there while I did my UG. Even though it was the same college, without my old classmates and professors, it felt like a whole new place. Part of the Masters programme is a mandatory 8 hour a week, “departmental assistance”. Mostly you would grade term papers, assist in the lab, help the professors around one way or other. And there I was, one fine afternoon inside the staff room, with a fellow classmate, grading term papers and I overheard the following conversation between two assistant professors in there.
“….something about rents…..”
“They told me there is a house near Pettah, its kind of pricey, but its very spacious…”
“Ooh, If I were you, I’d think twice about renting near Pettah…”
“Back in the day, a dashing young man, let’s call him Guy…”