How did zero become hero
Boy developed many passions as he grew up, to top up his addiction to reading, which he had developed early in life. He was keenly interested in Cinema, Music, Theatre, Arts, Travel, and Poetry; and became involved in Social Work, Adventure Sports, Wildlife, Camping, even Martial Arts. He also developed into a keen foodie.
But the one passion that led to all the rest was one that he shared with the entire male heterosexual adolescent population; GIRLS!
It is said that around the time one enters the teens all boys are afflicted with two infestations, but Bong boys are inflicted with three. Whilst everyone finds a dark smudge discolouring their upper lip and the sudden transformation of every female human not closely related by blood suddenly transforming into this mesmeric being, bong kids have the additional burden of poetry bubbling within them. All three are inevitable and equally irresistible. Boy was no exception.
Being a thin dark lanky bespectacled bookworm, Boy’s interest in the fairer species was not reciprocated, and his confidence in making an approach run was near absolute zero, that is, minus 273 degrees. His being in a boy’s school did not help matters.
Then one day, a miracle occurred. Deeply uncomfortable in mixed company as always, Boy reverted to his standard defence mechanism, making wisecracks. He heard some feminine giggles amongst the usual sniggers and was mortified. Nature, with her generosity in providing him with melanin had made it impossible for him to blush, but he was hot under the collar.
This was routine for him. But suddenly, looking up, he noticed that those pretty eyes were not looking at him with derision, but with interest!
He tentatively tried cracking a few more jokes, and was thrilled to notice that the young ladies were not laughing at him, but at his jokes. This transformed him. He became the insufferable class joker. His caustic wit and sarcasm kept him within perilous proximity of a sound thrashing by his more robust classmates, and got him sent out of class regularly by irate teachers.
He also discovered that certain young ladies were more impressed by his vast storehouse of irrelevant trivia, a by-product of his voracious reading. (Reader, remember, that was the pre Google era, where information wasn’t a tap away.) And those certain young ladies also read books and enjoyed talking about them. His life was made.
Boy had a major complex about his unflattering looks, and despite great enthusiasm, his very modest success as an athlete. That is why he tried extra hard to impress with whatever meagre talents he did posses.
He discovered that a striking young lady was a ghazal and thumri aficionado, and pretended to be one too. Though he couldn’t sing, he could at least listen and admire. Soon, he developed a genuine keen interest in this genre.
Similarly, he discovered that Spicmay, the society promoting classical music and arts, was patronised largely by young ladies, and that the jocks steered well clear of it. He promptly joined, and suffered many long evenings with the Dagar brothers droning on, or some Diva dancing, or the caterwauling of some strange instrument until it all began to make sense, and enthral him.
With equally dubious motive he trailed along art galleries staring incomprehensibly at weird squiggles, and slept through a screening of (aesthetes, please don’t die of shock) Fellini’s ‘Eight and a Half’ in the company of intellectual ladies. But it paid rich dividends. Today he loves World Cinema, and collects prints of Indian Masters.
But it was not only wimpy arty stuff that that he got into in his single minded pursuit of beauty. He went trekking with the short haired sporty kinds, and developed a lifelong love of the outdoors. He went to all night Rock concerts with the chain smoking spiky haired beauties, only to become a devotee of Jim Morrison, Bob Marley, and the Man from Tennessee.
His very brief foray into martial arts was not inspired by Bruce Lee like the rest of his generation, but comely young lass who gave coaching. Like all the other ladies of various talents this coach too was oblivious of his passion, but Boy developed an unfounded confidence which helped him face up to roughnecks in his delinquent later youth.
Poetry was the one art which beat him, and still does, though he faked it then and fakes it now, (his tastes and talents were more inclined to limericks) as there is no greater magnet for the soulful lady than poetry. Although in his early teens he did spout heartfelt poetry and wrote them too, quite sincerely, for his then current crush, but thankfully those have long since disappeared. You can blame that on his Bong genes.
As you can see, Boy did not discriminate. As long as she was female, and would tolerate his company, Boy would happily tag along. But unfortunately the reverse wasn’t true. Although these ladies tolerated Boy’s company for the entertainment value for short spells, they soon moved on. But in their wake, they left Boy enriched with new interests and passions.
Thus our zero became a hero