Bobby is my newest friend, noble and mad. He is noble for good reasons and mad for many! The first time you meet him you may think him unstable, what with his eccentric ways and black stand-up hair. Look beyond the appearance and you find a heart of gold.
Bobby drives cars and runs his own taxi & transport service. At the age of 16 he was behind the wheel, earning for the upkeep of his expanding family of brothers and sisters. He decided to give his father early retirement and a life of relaxed luxury.
Maybe it’s the unpredictable hours, the long halts in unknown places, and getting to brush shoulders with the full spectrum of the human kingdom that made him wise and philosophical.
Quick to anger at the smallest injustice that may pass his sharp eyes, and quick to cry, the mere memory of God brings tears to Bobby’s eyes. Bobby’s eyes are like two lakes, ever full and glistening, threatening to burst the dams of civilized equipoise.
What I love most about Bobby is his unflinching ‘Yes’, in this world of resounding ‘No’s. Every pore of his face shines with readiness. No task is too big or impossible for him. He can even take on gravity with triumphant levity! In this respect he plays the role of the mythological Hindu wish-fulfilling tree (Kalpa vriksha) and wish granting cow (Kamadhenu).
Bobby is my best friend’s brother. A month ago I met him for the first time when I visited my friend’s home in Chandigarh. I had been in two minds about whether to go to Chandigarh with Meera who was quietly adamant about me travelling with her or to follow my heart and go solo to Rishikesh. A phone call to my dad swiftly sorted out the matter.
“Go wherever you wish, but don’t travel alone!” were his barking orders. The phone quivered a weak acceptance. I am usually poor at following others’ instructions. There are two things that I don’t like to short change myself about: one is my Guru and the other is Ma Ganga. But Meera’s persistent plea and my father’s command weighed in favour of Chandigarh. So I thought, “Let me be grandly selfless for a change.”
But all the way to Chandigarh my heart wept silently for Ganga. Grand Ganga, wide and royal, flowing swiftly past like a lost dream. Gone, gone into the Ocean of Nothingness. “Oh, Mother, please forgive me this time,” I prayed.
Chandigarh was an unexpected homecoming. Stepping into Meera’s home was like stepping into the Golden Age of my childhood. There was something so adorable and familiar about everything. Her mother, old and frail, took my hand in hers and showed me around. It seemed as though I had always held her hand and smiled into those deep, kind eyes.
The bus ride from Delhi to Chandigarh had been long and dusty, yet the child in me, delighted, rushed out to the park outside and slid down the snaky, curvy children’s slide with glee.
The shyest member of Meera’s family, Bobby, avoided us on the first day, and tried to dodge us the second. But I insisted he have dinner with us and he came sheepishly downstairs carrying a large pot of steaming fragrant pullao he had cooked. And that was that. Bobby and I bonded like instant glue. Over dinner he suggested driving us to the famous Naina Devi Temple, their family deity, the next day.
But my heart was still where it was. In the lap of Ganga. And so without any forethought or idea of the great distance by road, I blurted out, “I want to go to Rishikesh. Will you drive us to Rishikesh?”
And Bobby said, “Yes!” A Divine Yes that lit up his eyes, with not the slightest hesitation or trace of doubt. It had such a beautiful finality to it!
Yes, he drove the 600 km stretch back and forth in high spirits and kept us laughing all the way.
Thank you Bobby for fulfilling my deepest wish with just a simple ‘Yes’.