PumpkinPie, SweetyBootyCutiePoo to his mother, he was just Fatboy in school. Golu, HumpDump, Door No.88, on different days, among different friends.
School is school; and fat boys are fat boys. They get the taunts, the nicknames, the occasional being-pushed-into-mud, the not so occasional "Miss, Golu farted", nothing out of the ordinary.
When his classmates found that he had no intentions of rising to any gibes about his fourth chin, or the way a fold of his knickers seemed to be buried within his buttocks constantly, they simply left him alone, contenting themselves with the poem most schoolchildren knew, about fat Mr. and Mrs.88.
And this, suited him excellently.
It had been six months since he had moved schools. The last one showed him the boot citing 'Incompatibility with school rules' and in a post script the Transfer Certificate added, 'Adjustment problems; uncontrolled rage'. All because he jammed a classmate's head between the wall and the bench, when the poor boy asked for place to sit next to him.
"What sort of a school is this? Four children to a bench! And you call yourselves an International School! Which country, Rwanda?", his mother had fumed at the Principal.
"Madam, you don't understand, the other children are afraid of him", the Principal tried his most diplomatic tone.
"Afraid? Let them be. Let them cower under their seats, and turn out just like you. Look at you wuss, sweating all over like a pig before slaughter. Here, take this napkin. And do go shopping today. Who knows, you may even grab a pair", she had screamed, her face looking redder than her Banaras sari, leaving the Principal's face grayer than his jacket.
For all her bravado, the ashen faced Principal sought his revenge with that spleen filled Transfer Certificate. The conduct and attitude column seemed like, she cried, "an excerpt from Jack the Ripper's diary, and this is just a well-fed 9-year old for Christ's sake!". But then, giving up was never her thing.
The revenge however paid off. She found no school that was ready to take on her rather big, not to mention rambunctious bundle of joy.
School after school, no after no.
Three months, about twenty schools.
The peering, ever-scrutinizing gazes of the school heads, and their eventual refusal to take him in made her haughtier initially, disconcerted her five schools later, slightly unnerved her a few more schools later, and by the twentieth she was convinced there hid Satan under that Farex baby exterior.
Then started the third degree.
The beating. The morebeating.
The yelling. The toomuchyelling.
The giving little food. The giving toolittlefood. The giving no food AtAll.
The last worked. Like a charm.
So, four months and twenty three reluctant schools later, the arrogant mass of lard had been shaped into being a being of silence, of passivity, of MindingOne'sOwnBusiness; with a much drilled into credo of "Chuppee". The great story that would be recounted many a time by local mothers as The Chupping of the Thupper.
And this suited him excellently, making him realize the joys of non-alignment, of being the audience.
Reduced, and muted; ostracized and ignored.
Unashamed, accustomed to a solitude of a new kind, he began to enjoy his near-invisibility. From his position at the edge of the school and the school's life, he wrote postcards to himself, taking vicarious pleasure in the activities of those around him; quietly celebrating the rise or fall of this or that playground emperor, or the examination debacles of a particularly unappetizing classmate, or in one case, peering through evidently inefficient Venetian blinds to discover the sweaty tandem functioning of the ayah and the gamekeeper - ah, the myriad delights of the spectator; ah, the proximity a pair of opera-glasses could bring; ah, the webs of stories weaved in whispers.
But he remained silent through it all.
Amused, but quietly.
But then, how long can one keep that thing which is innately theirs suppressed? For instance, could this author ever refrain from using long clauses, and thus longer sentences?
Could the bully ever be content with solitude? Could the threat of being not fed Krunchy Krackers hold out for that long? If not bash up people, as he was wont to, was he not tempted to even attempt human contact?
This is against all acceptable 9 year old boy behaviour. The author didn't intend him to be thus. There needs to be some action taken. I can't possibly make my protagonist feel above regular human emotions. Reformed bullies have emotions too. Haven't we seen that in enough and more Hindi films?
(The author, that is I, likes drastic changes, because they are well, so drastic, and because sometimes they are needed when met with a cul de sac.
So, here is one such drastic change.)
He is bored. Yes.
He, our hero, our fatboy erstwhile-bully-now-silent-to-the-point-of-being-silly, has gotten bored of his opera-glass ways, and longs, much like the Charulata he never knew, for the comfort of human beings, for the simple joys of playing tic-tac-toe that the other kids seemed to like so much.
He is bored, he is bored, he is very very bored, and pleads with the author to deliver him from a life so young, but so scarred, in succession by a bully history, a bullier mom, and now a fully dull solitude.
(The author considers, reconsiders, and comes up with what can be the only satisfactory remedy)
DEUS EX MACHINA.
Enter girl. Girls, the cause and solution to all men's problems.
Enter girl. Saturday. Hero still bored. No uniform day. Thrown his opera-glasses. Pink pinafore skirt. Sulks at the edge of the compound. Purple little purse. Catches sight of pink-purple blurb. Who is that? Twiddles thumbs. OH! That boy! OH! This girl! He seems sad. Why is she here? Wonder why he is the quiet sort, and always with those binoculars. God, the girl is always yakking, and always adjusting her hair. What's his name, I've forgotten. What's her name, I don't remember. Must be Fatty, ha ha. Must be Pinky, HA HA. May be he has seen where my hairband is. Oh god, here she comes.
"Hi", she said chirpily, extending a warm hand, wiping the hair out of her face, what with the hairband missing.
"Hello", he tried swallowing the tennis ball that seemed jammed in his throat, wiping the fat sweaty palm on his khaki knickers.
He had found his first crush.
(The protagonist is glad that the author endorses time-tested cliches. As for the author, he just likes happy endings.)