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by Amit Parmessur

Two friends are seated at the far end of a bus. One has long hair. The other is bald. They travel silently for a while.

&: [Breaking the silence.] I forgot to tell you about my results.

8: Yes! [Pause.] What happened?

&: Promise you won’t laugh at me. [He scratches his head.]

8: Why? Latest result, latest insult?

&: No salt on wound. Please. [Disappointedly.] I have failed in Visual Arts.

8: [After reflection.] But you passed in other subjects. [Calmly.] That’s more important.

&: 0 in Arts. I got 0. [Pause.] Anyway, forget it. I took the plane the very day and went to Cambridge.

8: [Adjusting himself.] And what did they say?

&: They got my work out and showed it to me. And they proclaimed “0”.

8: They could have given you some marks for going there at least. [Frowning casually.] What was it you drew by the way?

&: I painted the page black.

8: You did what?

&: [Shrugging.] I painted the page black. [He adjusts his spectacles.] It was my work, my style.

8: Then deserve your 0.

&: Then you are a fool too. [Exasperated almost.] Just like the foolish examiners. It’s not a black page.

8: [To himself.] A page painted black is not a black page! Hmmm...

&: Zulus. Zulus dancing enthusiastically in the night. [Proudly.] That was what I drew.

[The bus conductor starts collecting money from the talkative old couples in front. 8 laughs like a madman.]

&: Stop laughing and let’s come back to our usual questions and answers.

8: OK. [Pause.] OK.

[The bus suddenly starts to go faster.]

&: First question. Why does a fart smell?

8: [Tentatively.] Biological. Bacteria decomposing food.

&: [With a smile.] Nop.

8: The answer is?

&: It smells so as the deaf can enjoy it. Simple. [They both laugh.]

8: [Concentrating.] Next question.

&: Have you heard of the expression ‘Winds raping walls’?

8: [Scratching his bald head.] Yes. Yes I have.

&: But have you ever heard walls bearing little walls? [He lifts his eyebrows.]

8: Never.

[The conductor is approaching.] &: This is because walls have abortions. [He laughs. 8 is not impressed.]

8: [In a low voice.] It does not appear he has failed.

&: Next question?

8: Hmm. [He adjusts himself, looking at &.] This time say something serious.

&: [After much thought.] Have you ever entered an office and given the clerk your name and your address?

8: Of course. I did it yesterday itself.

&: You’ve given him your name.

8: Yes. [Pause.] Actually it was a woman.

&: [Excited.] You’ve given her your address as well.

8: [Hesitantly.] Yes.

&: So, this means you have neither name nor address now if you’ve given them to her!

[8 shakes his head, not knowing if he should laugh or not. & laughs, but he is cut short by the bus conductor who comes to him.]

Conductor: Where please?

&: [Confusedly.] To my house.