The lights in the streets glowed brilliantly determined not to allow anyone to miss daylight. Two men stood beneath a light pole, looking in different directions. They seemed as much of strangers to each other as they are to you and me.
One of the men covered in black attire and revealing a glorious goatee, the only hair above his shoulders, spoke in the lowest and gravest of tones possible.
“Have you brought it?”
The other man, who remained as impassionate as ever, was a stark contrast to the one in black. He had wonderful hair, like sheep’s wool, curly and fluffy, growing at all possible places on his head. Thick black-rimmed glasses were the only piece of accessory he had and the light orange kurta which he wore over an old, torn blue jeans gave him the funny tinge which we can only find in a certain class of movies. Unlike the other man, this man replied calmly.
“Yes. 500 bucks.”
“Are you fucking mad? 500 for one disk?”
“Yes. Take it or leave it.”
“Bhaiya, 500 is too much! I only have 200.”
The disappointed look on the black one’s face finally revealed that he was just a boy. His face enacted a hundred emotions instantaneously. He looked pale, and shattered, and broken, and disheartened.
“Bhaiya, will you take the money in installments?”
The man in orange did not bat an eyelid. He knew he held the higher ground. He knew he was the one in command of the moment. The boy had to be squeezed hard, and for that hard compulsion was required.
“No installments. I want it in lump sum. And it’s only on rent for a day. You’ll have to return it tomorrow, same time.”
The boy knew he had lost it. He was the common man looted of all his property. He was the child parted with his block of ice-cream. He was the lover separated from his life.
“Koi nahi bhaiya, I’ll take it some other day then.”
The orange man saw the opportunity fading away quickly. It had been so many days since he last had liquor. One drop. Two drops. No. He dreamt of a whole glass that night. But 200 bucks wouldn’t buy him even a look. 500 was what he needed.
“Hey,” he said, “Will you watch it alone?”
For the first time in their meeting the hush of the voices were lost. The two males looked eye to eye, both desperate for the fulfillment of a need. A need so strong they could’ve killed for it.
“Why? Why don’t you ask some of your friends to pool money? You guys can watch it in turns or together.”
The boy hadn’t thought of it. Yes, that was a possibility. He looked at him with a smile and a sparkle in his eyes so bright it could have lighted the moon.
“Hmmm… Please wait here for five minutes. I will be back ASAP.”
It had been nearly a year since liquor and porn had been banned by the government. People had expected it to be just another law but the government implemented the law with an iron-hand.
Liquor was a jewel, a gem, only found in the showcases of the upper-class, and of course, politicians. For the common man, it had vanished into thin air. But then came to rescue the people the underworld. They made the liquid gold available to people and led the gold rain into their coffers.
As for porn, it took the highest toll on students. The universities raided the hostels and confiscated hundreds of hard-drives with terabytes of porn. Students were suspended, internet was firewalled, the local area networks were monitored. Any student found with porn in his possession was dealt in the harshest possible manner. A punishment dealt out not only to him, but to his family members too. The whole family was forced to watch the prized possession together.
This hard-enough punishment nearly ensured the porn-free campuses of universities. But, the MEN were in need everywhere, always looking out for ways to have a drop or two and a peek or so. The men had forgotten how the beer tasted, and the boys, they had stopped even having wet dreams. Deprivation was at its peak and so in the middle of the night two men met, ready to help each other out, ready to quench their desires.
The man in orange was now tensed. It had almost been 10 minutes and the boy hadn’t returned yet. The proctor’s patrolling jeep would have been there any minute. If he were to get caught, he would have been destroyed. His impassionate face tightened. His eyes searched, his ears ready to spot the sound of engines and his heart racing like a Harley.
And then he saw his messiah. The boy came running, smiling at himself, pleased. He waved the five notes in front of the orange man. The man pulled out a packet from inside his pants. The exchange took place.
As the two men parted after thanking each other, they smiled, thinking of the treasures the night had in store for them. A night to cherish, to laugh, to live.