Archive | 2:14 am


4 Jun

Soli the Kamakli lives right below us. Now before all you politically correct people pounce on me for calling someone less abled (kam = less, akl=brains), I must hasten to inform you that I am merely faithfully reproducing matters as they stand. And since you are unlikely to storm the almost 100-year-old Parsi bastion of high ceilings and cool corridors that is our common abode, demanding a change in title for him, you must be content with Soli the Kamakli.

Truth be told, I don’t know his last name. Nor can I hazard a guess about his age. He’s always been around, you see. Loping rapidly and uncoordinatedly to the door as we climbed up the stairs, peering out of the peep hole in silence, and then yodeling our names as we ran past, his long, comical face stretching even further into an eternal oblong.

Soli the Kamakli is a lonely man. He lives with Viru, his man Friday, who makes three additional salaries a month by renting out the extra rooms of the house to newly-arrived job-seekers in Bombay. He is also a rich man, the heir to millions and the owner of a South Bombay Parsi housing colony. It is widely murmured among the old families of the neighborhood that there lies a curse on the Kamakli family: no heir shall be able to enjoy his/her wealth. His mother inherited a fortune, but died crazed and clueless. Madness lurks in their genes, you can see it in the crackling dilation of their irises, but for us, Soli the Kamakli is a much-loved fixture who sing-songs daily as we go past, telling us we’ve forgotten him, of how the world has no time, asking after each member of our home, making us stop a while and smile and shush the twinges of guilt we feel about being such busybodies.

Soli the Kamakli is a young old man, an ageless creature of antiquity, a sane man in an insane world and a clock that cuckoos the slipping of time. It’s been years since school and college, so many of us have moved out, swapped continents, returned and traversed mind-zones, but our time-trained ears are still treated to the sound of shuffling feet, a peep-hole shutter being lifted and the precise hush before our name is warbled.

I don’t know why I told you about Soli the Kamakli. He is not a famous man, or even a clever one. He didn’t discover relativity or father babies that resemble gamboling puppies. He lives his long days in sky blue bush shirts and starched white pyjamas and worn leather slippers that scrape soothingly. It is strange to be aware of one’s mortality at 30, but I realize that life is seeping us by. And I want to cling on, just a little while longer, to a time when my name is yodeled twice daily and a flute-like voice declares I have forgotten its owner. The stairs won’t be the same without Soli the Kamakli. Until then, I’m making sure I get plenty of exercise.