Two years ago, my brother had personally overseen the civil work of the duplex we now live in. The two of us had the entire first floor to ourselves, complete with a separate entry from the main gate and a floor thick enough to block out the din of a jackhammer. That night my parents slept soundly on the ground floor after knocking themselves out on Panadol Night while my brother engaged in a rather loud late-night cardio session on the first floor.
My brother was sleeping with the younger of the Khannas' daughters and I could tell from the noises that he was pretty good at it. (Unless screaming, 'Call me a bitch!' periodically is a sign of bad sex.) Also we are brothers and I was used to seeing him walking around naked in the house till he was about eleven and it didn't become the most awkward thing ever, so I know he's hung like a horse. Again, the dice of fate had rolled in his favour.
I wouldn't know at the time if size mattered; of course, I know now it does because I was still a virgin at twenty-three and I was sufficiently ashamed of it. My brother didn't know that, because I never told him. I think he thought of me as more of an arrogant snob who was picky about his sexual encounters.
In the party the night before, the elder of the Khanna sisters got bored after the first five minutes of my unsuccessful attempts to be charming, and she stared intently into her phone for the rest of the party to avoid any conversation with me. Truth be told, I was quite relieved. The elder sister was hot (by my standards, which you know by now didn't exist) and if the conversation led to sex I wouldn't know what to do, except maybe prematurely ejaculate.
Worse still, my brother would know I had underperformed in bed. Being the brother with a smaller dick was enough humiliation for a lifetime. I had to make sure the venn diagram of the women I would sleep with and the women who could tell my brother how bad I was in bed never intersected.
But being small, sexless and foreseeably bad in bed were the least of my issues. What troubled me that morning were the impending final exam results of my course, while my parents were actually looking forward, as well as terribly scared, to their son being a graduate and hence employable.
'Aren't the results available online?' asked my mother when she was leaving for college that morning.
'The website is down,' I answered, hiding myself behind my Kindle. I was re-reading The Lord of the Rings. If only textbooks were as interesting.
My mother wasn't a fool. She knew I was a compulsive liar and a pro at hiding exam results, so she tried to check the website of my college in her phone. Good thing she was also stingy and relied on Wi-fi and never bought a 3G plan.
'I think the Wi-fi isn't working,' she said.
Of course it wasn't. I had switched it off. 'Let me know whenever the results are out?' I nodded. 'And ask Ankit to have his breakfast before he leaves.'
As if on cue, my brother walked out into the living room and hugged my mother before she left. She pointed out the little dark circles he had going on underneath his eyes and asked him to stop straining himself so much. If only he wasn't a god in bed, he would have got some sleep and would be blessed with as smooth under-eye skin as mine.
'So, a graduate today, haan?' my brother said, piling bananas, apples and oranges on his plate. The girl must be starving after the extensive cardio session my brother had put her through.
'Keeping my fingers crossed,' I said.
'You will make it,' he said and squeezed my shoulder. So naive of him despite his intelligence! A little later, I could hear the girl screaming again while I took my shower. It was sex like that which gives women quintuplets, I guessed. His Forbes article had made him quite desirable and I'm sure my parents knew he sometimes got girls home but I was never too sure about it.
I left the house, nervous, and trying not to feel bad about myself.
I would have been surprised had I passed the exams but fate has a funny way of not surprising me ever. I wasn't the only one who had failed, thank God for that, but I had failed quite miserably, even by my standards.
'How did it happen?' asked Raman. 'You read so many books!'
'Fiction doesn't count,' I said, surprised that he had got through.
'So what will you do now?' asked Raman.
'It's a toss-up between hanging myself and drowning. And you don't have to sit here. It's your day. You should go dance,' I said, pointing to our classmates who were celebrating their success. Yes, I had friends. I wasn't some lonely sociopath who just wallowed in his inferiorities all day long. But how valuable a friend I was to any one of them was a different matter. There's always this guy in a group who's not funny or resourceful or kind or good-looking or rich but still is a part of the group for no understandable reason. The guy who only sits and listens and hopes some day they will talk about their favourite authors and he will be the one who will have the most to say.
About the book:
Life teaches us what 'love' truly is And love gives definition to 'life'
Aisha, a bit of a late bloomer, has to figure out what it means to be a woman and to be desired. Danish feels time is running out for him and he's going to end up as a nobody, as opposed to his overachieving, determined younger brother.
Life takes a strange turn when Danish, the confused idiot, is appointed as the student counsellor to Aisha. Between the two of them they have to figure out love, life, friendship--most of all, themselves. And it's not proving to be . . . easy?
Our Impossible Love presents,
Life the way it is and
Love the way it should be
Snippet from A Fine Balance
- Rohinton Mistry
Snippet from Things Fall Apart
- Chinua Achebe