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The Iron Man
by Amit Parmessur

I must explain this strong head, but I have only rumours to quench your burning curiosity. Some say his father was a blacksmith. Others say his mother was excessively stubborn. But these are too cheap explanations. Too cheap.

Some state that he’d gone to jail and been beaten so much that his head is invincible now. That sounds better because he had gone to jail 11.5 times. The last time he went he went halfway and ran away. This explains his presence in the bar that chilly Thursday.

Everyone’s attitude changed as he entered. But there was a silly tourist who didn’t know much about the Iron Man. He talked to his old but new friend. “How’s the silence old man?”

The old man remained quiet.

“This man is the King of Kings. He can drive a nail completely into the wall with his head. He’s from Rodrigues, the Indian Ocean solitaire bird island,” he then revealed. “You know’bout the island?”

With the Spanish tourist seeming like a hen who knows how to bark, the old man decided to go for a bet. Some easy money. He called the barman and asked for a nail. “I’ll put it in the bill,” said the barman handing a 20cm-long nail hesitantly. After much discussion, everything was settled. 500 rupees from the tourist and the old man each. If the latter was to win 275 would go to the iron man.

And the barman had to be persuaded that the nail would help him hang another calendar in his saloon. He was yet to understand how to hang calendars on nails fully driven into the wall though.

Many stopped drinking.

Some seized the opportunity to drink the drink of their entranced neighbours. The Iron Man was ready. He put the nail into position and headed it: 5 centimetres into the wall.



Fantastic business, thought the old man.

He was convinced the totally baffled tourist would sponsor his grogs for the weekend. He wore a smile. And there we go. A second header and the calendar had got its perch. The old man’s smile got wider, his hands closer to the money.

The iron man braced himself and buried the nail up to 15 cm soon. A last shot left; the notes were almost the old man’s.

Last header. “Dios es grande!” exclaimed the tourist, kneeling. The nail was going nowhere further. The iron man tried and tried with his bleeding head. The old man’s smile withered and collapsed. Everyone was shocked. The iron man hit. Hit. And hit.

Can you say why the nail was going nowhere further? There was nothing wrong with the wall certainly.

It was just about another man from the solitaire bird island, leaning at full leisure against the wall on the other side, drinking his Pepsi peacefully. The nail had just come to rest against the back of his head. This man’s ancestors were all stubborn blacksmiths.

The search for a sexy calendar was on.