Bittuful Sweety

BITTUFULL SWEETY

Sketch by author

He could not resist the next-door beauty, aptly nicknamed Sweety. After all, the teenage blood and hormones were raging! She was eighteen and a senior at school too. Many concerted efforts and failures marked the babyish love proposals that Bittu made.

On his knees, falling flat, bending backwards, et all. But, the dusky siren was a tough cookie to be wooed. He was at his wits end. One final try was to offer his slit wrists in front of her classmates.
He carried a new Erasmic blade, prominent in his white shirt pocket.

She noticed him and started to think. He had been occupying her thoughts, day and night. Poor chap, following her everywhere like a lamb, throwing flirty, yet furtive, glances.

His heart seemed to be in the right place, even though the actions seemed stupidly sincere. He was just a boy, for that matter. She relented and fell into his embrace behind the Chemistry lab.

They held each other, with all the love they could muster. The silent rendezvous went on unnoticed by many, though I was privy to the secret meetings.

Promises of an ever-after

The puppy love grew by leaps and bounds. One day, Bittu announced “Sweety, my life is incomplete without you. There is no point in meeting like cowards. Pyar kiya tho darna kya? Let’s run away to get married at Hyderabad’s Birla Mandir, atop the hillock opposite the Hussain Sagar lake. The whole city would be witness to our tender love. If someone stops us, we shall jump into the deep lake.”

The hormones hijacked the bodies. Sweety swooned like a midday swallow while he swept her off her feet. The plans were executed, quick and how.

Enter 007: Name’s Bond

Commotion prevailed at both the houses. The parents were clueless. His mom, our neighbour, turned to me for some leads, but I was equally dumbfounded. How could he not tell me? I was his best friend and classmate!

The late seventies was a different time altogether, calling the police was taboo and a black blob on the family prestige, for sure. Search parties were quickly formed and sent out in various directions. I was made an impromptu James Bond by Bittu’s mom with her younger son, Chintu, as my sidekick. We nicknamed our new boss, Eva.

The next day we set out to Jollarpetai, about 70 kms away. Somehow all the runaway kids from our school seemed to land up there for some unknown reason. A high-level Intel report coming straight from the White office informed us that the couple was seen in that remote hilly town.

We combed the chrysanthemum gardens and popular military spicy biryani eateries, but to no avail. Sad-faced we made our way back home. The lack of GPS satellite tracking, WhatsApp groups and Facebook, was definitely a handicap. Maybe, the next intelligence report would be more accurate.

A few more plans were hatched.

Two days later, we got another intel from a close relative who was a bus depot controller. He had many of his conductors plying on the city routes.

The love birds had been seen in Hyderabad, hand in hand. Stars in eyes.

Eva dispatched us promptly at 8 pm the same day. We were suitably armed with chilli powder, pepper spray and loads of homemade masala murukkus. Eva did warn us against the use of blades, though catty remarks were allowed.

We slept well in the bus, woke up fresh at 8 am.

But then, we rubbed our eyes in disbelief.

The Krishna river was flowing majestically under the bridge. We had spent the whole night in the bus! Damn, the bus had broken down and we hadn’t even realised it in our blissful sleep. So much for talented spies.

We finally reached mission city, Hyderabad, at 6 pm. We rushed to Suleiman lodge where they had set up the little family nest. The garments welcomed us at the corner room on the first floor, sweetie’s pink slippers were a definite give away. She would always leave it outside our doors while she visited our homes.

Sketch by author

Nerves of steel

Sweetie froze into a candy on seeing us. She flung onto Bittu’s arms, amidst an avalanche of sniffles and wails. She begged us.  “Let them not parts us, for we are one entity, darling. In the name of God, have mercy on us and quietly go away, pretending that you have not seen us here in our cosy world. We assure everybody that we won’t be a problem to anyone. In fact, he has managed to get a temp office boy job while I have enrolled as a trainee nurse. We will be financially independent now.”

Not bad for a Tech start up, I thought.

She fell on her knees and pleaded pathetically. I felt I had grown older by forty years older in those ten minutes, feeling more like her grandfather. My heart melted. She was my friend too; I wanted to help her, but damn the catch 22 situation.

I could not desert my boss, Eva. Moreover, I knew that self-control should reign supreme in a spy’s life. There is no place for attachments, for work is worship was my strong brief. Karmanya phalesu ma kadhachit.

“See Sweety my pet, I am bound by the parent’s instruction. Let’s go and beg them for your union, it’s not safe here for you,” I said sagely.

Bittu resisted tooth and nail. “OK, in that case, I will have to call the controller uncle who is ready with the police party at hand. The choice is yours.” He tried his luck, blackmailing me emotionally.

When that strategy collapsed, some serious bribes of money, a watch and a gift of the new cycle he had got on his last birthday were offered.

However, The Bond doesn’t get carried away by such inane lures, you see.

I dug my heels in.

The look in Sweety’s eyes was unforgettable; even to this day after four decades. The pleading doe eyes were rapidly destroying my steely will power. She clutched my hands and wept so hard on my shoulders. My sleeves and eyes were turning moist.

Giving her a loving hug, I led her gently to the waiting auto rickshaw, promising to speak to Bittu’s mom. It was one of my most distressing and lost moments in life.

We reached the Hyderabad bus depot besides the great Musi river. I sat, looking out from the super express bus window at the flowing muddy, but serene waters, wondering what’s in store for the young tender lovers.

Turbulence or a calm repose?

 

Venu Rao

5th March, 21.

This is a work of fiction.

 

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