Ether Twins


He was wearing a patterned shirt with black and white vertical lines on it; he thought he looked good in it. As far shirts were concerned this pattern was the start and end of his taste. He didn’t waver even slightly to experiment. And he did look good. He perfumed himself. His hair needed no doing up. He hardly had any. He cleaned his spectacles and wore his shoes at the same time. Looking at his watch, while his friend was already waiting below his house, he thought he had at least fifteen minutes left. It was quarter to two, and Junaid was supposed to come at two. He decided fifteen minutes was a lot of time. He removed his shirt decidedly and began looking at his tattoos, one in each arm. One was Hitler’s Eagle, which he had seen on the arm of the hero in an unknown movie about racism; the other was a typically vague saying which instead of eliciting some meaning communicated hilarity among his friends, mainly Junaid and Buttfly. He looked at one then the other, turning sideways, turning his head to get different angles. Contentment came to his face after minutes of effortless movements. He thought he had become a racist and a physical embodiment of that vague saying. He muttered to himself that he was going to get the third done as soon as he managed to collect some money. This time he knew he would do it on his back. Drawn there would be something really shocking and manly; something that would shoot his belief on evolution into the heart of anyone who happened to see it. But he loathed his sagging belly, and to expose the whole back his vulnerable belly would come in the open too. The thought distressed him and he told himself he needed to work out; five hours a day if possible, or swim incessantly. He swam well. The thought of swimming disturbed and in no time erased his repentance of needing a work out. Clancy, his dog, came to him, tongue out and tail between the legs, breathing heavily. He admired it for a few seconds, smiling to himself. Then he bent to hug Clancy, which lifted the upper part of its body to take its master’s tenderness. He murmured some sweet nothings to it and, ordering Clancy to go on with its routine, perfumed himself again. A thought, sudden and explosive, struck him like lightning as he watched himself, topless, on the mirror. He had tremendous amount of smooth hair on his back. He would have to shave them to give way to the third and what he considered the most important tattoo. He tried to look at his whole backside but failed.


Buttfly said, frustrated, “This is disgraceful. We can’t be waiting below his apartment like this while he gets ready like a lady.”
Junaid, who had been trying in vain to start music in his recently bought fifthhand car, knew Buttfly’s usual impatient outbursts, didn’t respond. He continued to work on the stereo of his car.
“I’m calling him. His cell isn’t switched off?” Buttfly asked.
“No it’s not.”

Sanjay told Buttfly to wait for a few seconds. He was ready. He was wearing his shirt. He also accused both of them of waiting uselessly and coming before the decided time. Buttfly’s face contorted into an expression of sheer disgust.
“This is the problem with second hand cars. Nothing works”, Junaid said, at last giving up his gladiatorial effort.
A girl passed by. Junaid observed her. After she disappeared he let out a sigh, which meant he had dismissed her. He said the cracks on her feet were revolting. It wasn’t something a woman was supposed to have at any cost. It destroyed whatever beauty lay in the body or face. The listener, now swallowing the smoke from his fifth cigarette, agreed with the shake of his head. It had seemed an hour or so ago that it would rain heavily. Buttfly and Junaid thought the car would be the best idea. A few days ago they had drenched in the rain, got stuck in an unending line of vehicles struggling to break free. Once they were free they agreed it was a horrible ride back home. No one cursed the rains like Junaid did that day. In his frustration, while Buttfly rode the bike with excruciating struggle, he tried to justify the farmers killing themselves because of dead crops due to no rains.
There was still no sign of Sanjay. Buttfly was hungry and continued smoking made him feel emptier. Junaid had said he was full; he had just had his legendary breakfast, consisting of half a dozen scrambled eggs, four oiled parathas, and a plate full of daliya. But he assured Buttfly he wouldn’t mind having lunch in an hour or so if Buttfly was seriously hungry. Buttfly had confirmed he was seriously hungry, no joke.
Junaid was the tallest among the three though Sanjay always maintained he was shorter than the shortest of Italian models. He was also the fairest. And most importantly, to the consternation of Sanjay, he was having the most number of affairs. Buttfly was having two, one serious and one on chat. Sanjay was having none. He defended it by saying he didn’t have the patience for the rituals of a relationship before sex. Courtship disgusted him. He always made it very clear he only cared about sex. Everything else in a relationship for him was a logical reason why one shouldn’t be in a relationship. He despised the small talk involved; he hated going out for no reason; he worshipped solitude; and he continually complained of people who stripped him of it. Buttfly for his part, on account of being older to both of them, either kept quiet, convinced he was above these judgmental outbursts or shouted disagreement, mispronouncing basic English words, to which Sanjay and Junaid winked at each other so they could laugh when alone.

Sanjay idolized Buttfly’s friend who worked in the army. Junaid idolized Buttfly’s manager. Buttfly idolized both Sanjay’s and Junaid’s age.

“He’s coming”, Junaid said, glancing at the rear view mirror.
“At last”, Buttfly whispered, throwing the remaining cigarette.
Sanjay came in, threw himself on the seat behind them and made a gesture, meaning they were good to go.
Junaid started the car, looked back and stopped the engine.
“Where are we going?”
Both Sanjay and Buttfly shook their heads.
“Why are we deviating from the plan? We were to go have lunch and watch that movie.” Buttfly said, looking at Junaid questioningly.
Sanjay looked at Junaid and, looking at him, pleaded with Buttfly that they weren’t going to some rotten Hindi movie. As for lunch he said he needed time and he couldn’t have anything before four as he had just had his breakfast. Heavy breakfast, he said; not quarter of what Junaid had had, Buttfly thought. Junaid started the car again and they began moving away.
“So what did you do yesterday? Your cell was switched off all day.” Buttfly asked Sanjay.
“Nothing I was sleeping; I didn’t sleep the previous night.”
“How was the movie?”
“Superb it was”, Sanjay said with some emphasis. “It was boring in the first half but then it just blew off like a bomb. I liked it.”