Coming back to the city where I was born and lived the initial twenty and one years of my life and being here now for almost four months on the trot, I decided to look back into the initial days of my life here in Thiruvananthapuram. Since leaving this city in 1982, I have not lived here for more than a few days on the trot. Any trips back to this city have been for brief time lasting at the most three days. Consequently, though I did notice the change that has been happening here, to the roads and lanes, to the trees and the once prolific population of birds, the cleanliness that was vivid, the once sparse traffic , the classic architecture, buildings with history ,atmosphere , life and beauty and most of all the people who dwell here.
I rewound back to those years three decades ago and decided to reminisce about the men and women who lived in my neighbourhood, who have walked their life into the sunset. And Doctor Antony’s recent post instantly reminded me about the story of the man who lived may be a hundred meters across my house.
He was an officer of the Constabulary,but known more for his off uniform feats. It must have been in the mid seventies and his “Norton” motor –bike was perhaps the avant-garde in a town which only had the antediluvian “java” , “Lambretta”, a “Rajdoot” and the Royal Enfield Bullet . For some, together with his Norton motor-bike, he was a sex symbol.He was a kind of an iconic figure physically and riding his motor bike, he ensured that he dispersed the air with imperiousness and arrogance. He was the coach of the wrestling aspirants at the gym. I remember him dancing, pulling off his shirt in drunken revelry when the news about Mrs Indira Gandhi’s election defeat came across the official display board at the Central stadium,( that was in 1977).
Now, he was a fantastic swimmer too. And he used to volunteer and pick young boys and supposedly took them in his tutelage, be it on the wrestling mat or in the swimming pool. He had this preference for young boys who were into their teens or in their adolescence.
He did not know me in person, nor did he know that I was living near his house. He might have noticed me at the gym and at the pool. But since I was not keen about wrestling, was not eager for a swimming coach and was comfortable watching him from the distance, I never came to his proximity. He was regular at the swimming pool in the evenings by 6. He used to venture in, in his swim trunks and walk around the fifty meter long pool, bare- chested and like a rogue Elephant conscious of the awe he has created. He enjoyed exhibiting his naked torso and only with the protective cover of his swim trunk. He ventures into the pool and does a few laps of nonstop free style, breast and back stroke, before floating around in the water observing others in the water. He had this acrobatic way of slicing the water with his palm, sending up a wave of water as from a wide jet stream. It was, I understood his way of stamping his presence. By then, usually the flood lights of the pool would be shut off except for one, sending shadows across most part of the pool.
One day we happened to engage in a conversation while we were leaving the pool. And I answered his queries about my school /college etc.He had come there in his vintage Studebaker car and he offered to give me a hitch –hike to the city center.Though I politely thanked him and tried to move on, he insisted that it was not a problem for him and he also lived near the city center.While we moved on I told him that he could drop me near his house and I lived near by. Anxiously, (I felt), he asked me where near his house I lived. I told him the ancestral name and also told him that I understood that he was the college mate of my maternal uncle. I do not remember much conversation after that.He dropped me where I wanted to be dropped and went on his way. I do not remember him showing any signs of acquaintance or acknowledgement thereafter, whenever and wherever we have met.
Epilogue- My telling him about ancestral house etc was a kind of a defensive tact which in fact ensured that he did not invite me to join his shady idiosyncrasies. Though I have had heard many exploits of his and his enticing young boys for homosexual acts, I was not convinced until I saw myself one evening. It was at the swimming pool and the lights were going off. There were only a few of us in the pool. This boy may be aged fifteen hurriedly swam past me and got out of the pool. I had noticed him quietly being held and putatively coached by our man, in the far corner of the swimming pool.Now,I could see him clearly in the shadow of the lone flood light. While he got out, with a blushed appearance, I saw that his member was erect and he was trying to avoid others seeing the erection through his swim suit. Our gentleman has had homosexual routine with him. When I confided this to another person there, he giggled and said that the officer was a infamous homophile as well as straight.
A few years down from then, I heard that this man had a cerebral hemorrhage, and died instantly. .