Saturday, July 23, 2011

You Know All the Tricks

Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995), pp.194-196:
Past the crouching men, the three found a suitable spot. "The steel rail is very useful," said their neighbour. "Works just like a platform. Puts you higher than the ground, and the shit doesn't tickle your behind when it piles up."

"You know all the tricks, for sure," said Om, as they undid their pants and assumed their positions on the rail.

"Takes very little time to learn." He indicated the men in the scrub. "Now squatting here can be dangerous. Poisonous centipedes crawl about in there. I wouldn't expose my tender parts to them. Also, if you lose your balance in those bushes, you end up with an arseful of thorns."


"Tell me, O great Goo Guruji, do you recommend that we buy a railway timetable, if we are to squat on the tracks every morning?"

"No need for that, my obedient disciple. In a few days your gut will learn the train timings better than the stationmaster."


Along the line, men and women abandoned the tracks and waited by the ditch for the locomotive interruption to pass; the ones in the bushes stayed put. Rajaram pointed at a train compartment as it glided slowly in front of them.

"Look at those bastards," he shouted. "Staring at people shitting, as if they themselves are without bowels. As if a turd emerging from an arse-hole is a circus performance." He flung obscene gestures at the passengers, making some of them turn away.


" I wish I could bend over, point, and shoot it like a rocket in their faces," said Rajaram. "Make them eat it, since they are so interested in it." He shook his head as they walked back to their shacks. "That kind of shameless behaviour makes me very angry."

"My grandfather's friend, Dayaram," said Om, "he was force to eat a landlord's shit once, because he was late ploughing his field."

Rajaram emptied the last drops of water from his can into his palm and slicked back his hair. "Did that Dayaram develop any magic power afterwards?"

"No, why?"

"I've heard of a caste of sorcerers. They eat human shit, it gives them their black powers."

"Really?" said Om. "Then we could start a business—collect all these lumps from the track, package them and sell to that caste. Ready-made lunches, teatime snacks, hot and steaming."
Hat tip: A friend.

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