Humourist Soumya tells us about two men, Ram and Shyam, each other’s foil and what happened to them in a bawdy house Read more in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Ram Kumar and Shyam Singh were colleagues, Punjabis, professionals, batch mates and friends in a large corporation, posted in different towns of Punjab as Branch Heads. The names are obviously fictional, so reader, please do not draw conclusions about their identity, as these are common, almost generic names of the North Indian male species.
Both were middle aged, middle ranking, middle-income, middle-class people, but differed totally in tastes and temperaments. Whereas Ram was a shy, diffident, law abiding, god fearing soul, popularly known as “gau admi”or as harmless as a cow; Shyam was the very opposite.
Extroverted, a man of the world, street smart, boisterous, fond of the good things in life, rules to him being impediments to be avoided without detection; Shyam enjoyed his life with few pangs of conscience.
Despite their disparate natures, being from the same part of the country, and having graduated from the same engineering college, they hung out together. In the evening after the boring lectures, the participants unwind. Ram wanted to play carom in the common room, but Shyam had other ideas. He persuaded his friend to accompany him in visiting a pub a few miles away. Ram, being too polite to refuse, and a little excited about living on the wild side with his colourful friend, reluctantly agreed.
They, therefore, went over to a seedy bar in a nearby township and ordered their drinks, Shyam with nonchalance and Ram with guilty nervous excitement.
Now this bar, as Shyam well knew, was a pickup joint frequented by the local inexpensive call girls. So that soon as they settled down, they were joined by two highly painted and garishly if scantily dressed young ladies of negotiable virtue, who chatted them up quite flirtatiously. Shyam was in his element, exchanging scurrilous repartees, buying them drinks, to the shock and titillation of Ram.
Having quickly finished his drink and negotiations with one of the ladies, Shyam disappeared with her to some back rooms, winking at Ram and requesting the other lady to take care of his friend.
Impatiently urging the tongue-tied and by now alarmed Ram to finish his drink, the young lady put her arms around him and firmly led Ram to a back room. Both mesmerised and panicked, he meekly allowed himself to be led in.
But when the lady quickly disrobed and started disrobing the frozen Ram, he regained enough composure to yell,
“Don’t touch me. I don’t want any of this, let me go!”
The woman shrugged and said, “It is okay by me, just pay up and go.”
An indignant Ram bristled and screamed, “I didn’t touch you! Why should I pay?”
The woman patiently explained that his impotence is not an excuse to welsh on the deal fixed, and she was willing to oblige if he was able to perform, but able or not, once in you have to pay as agreed.
Ram tried to bluster and flaunt his exalted status as a senior government employee in distant Punjab, perhaps fuelled by the unaccustomed alcohol in his veins.
But it cut no ice with the experienced young woman, who just put two fingers in her mouth and let out a shrill whistle.
At the signal, two bulky bouncers bounded in and proceeded to teach poor Ram the etiquette of the bawdy house.
A bruised and battered Ram relieved of not only his money, his wallet, his watch, but even his clothes were unceremoniously dumped on the road outside.
Clad in his underwear, penniless, dazed and mortified, poor Ram dared not enter the bar again to seek his friend or approach the police or anyone for help. He was mortified and wanted no one to know of his plight.
Helpless, he slowly began to limp back towards the hostel in the pitch dark, unable to hire a rickshaw.
It was a long walk, and by the time he reached it was well past midnight, and the gates to the institute were firmly shut.
Not wanting to draw attention to his unclothed and unsavoury appearance, and unwilling to provide tedious and embarrassing explanations, he decided to scale the walls.
Now, this may be in a day or rather night’s work for cat burglars but was well beyond the scope of a middle-aged official. The resultant ruckus raised the guards, who raised the alarm, switched on the lights, apprehended the intruder and proceeded to thrash him. His feeble attempts to explain that he was a legal resident brought no respite.
In the meanwhile, the hullaballoo woke up the residents and even the director who came down to investigate.
It also produced Shyam, who had long since concluded his romp and whizzed home in a rickshaw, no doubt passing the hapless Ram trudging along in the dark somewhere on route, and was happily and safely in bed.
He identified poor Ram, who was speechless in shame by now, and asked,
“What happened Ram? Did you get mugged somewhere?”
This easy explanation revived Ram, who readily agreed.
Thus, the matters were laid to rest for the night. But Ram’s reluctance to file a FIR the next day raised suspicion and close interrogation revealed his whereabouts of the night before, as he being innocent, had a little practice of lying. The understanding authorities agreed to let things be, in deference to Ram’s family but issued a stern warning to him never to indulge in such peccadilloes again. Shyam’s role in the episode remained hidden.
Till years, people talked about Ram. “Nobody could have guessed about this man. What an animal! And acts so respectable too!”
A bitter Ram is no longer on speaking terms with his old friend, who doesn’t quite understand why.
Photos from the internet.
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