Little Jimmy went looking for his companion in the scorching summer heat. He had searched all the usual places but without any luck. His furry friend has been missing from the evening.
Yes, you guessed it right. Jimmy was looking for his squirrel Tom.
The quiet reticent 7th grader was devoid of any friends. All he had in the name of friends are some over-bearing dramatic animated creatures – just like the Television Shows watched by his mother. Sadly, Jimmy understood neither of them. Both his friends and his mother made little sense to him. Often, they seem comical and at other times, they are an eye-sore.
Whenever he was with them some kind of weird dramatic scenes happened. Take yesterday, for example, Jimmy had forgotten to take his notebooks to class and it was quite a scene when he ran home to get it.
As he got into his room, he saw a pot-bellied hairy gentleman getting out of his mother’s room gasping for breath. The situation seemed quite comical to Jimmy as she saw his mother pounding and getting ready in the background. However, it soon took a turn to rather gruesome experience when his mother came face to face.
“What on earth are you doing here? Why aren’t you in school?” asked a startled Mrs. Biswas.
“I came back to take my Maths Notebook. The teacher won’t budge till I hand it over. Apparently, he has a similar pounding and gasping trouble like you”, gestured Jimmy
“Well, what are you waiting for? Get going. Take your damn notebook and rush off to school”, retorted Shaileja Biswas.
This was Jimmy aka, Janardan Biswas, a quiet little mute child living with his father Mr. Jaidev Biswas and stepmother Mrs. Shaileja Biswas. Jimmy disliked most of the things about himself including his family, friends, school, home and most certainly his old-fashioned name. This is the reason why he changed his name to Jimmy. Just Jimmy without any titles, subtitles etc.
“I will be a rare specimen. Without any genus and certainly without any species name” thought Jimmy. The young boy didn’t know then that scientific names are different from proper names. To him, they were one and the same thing. Biology was never his forte and he never understood it.
But one thing delighted him the most – caricatures, cartoons and comics. He was always up for some mischief or the other with his caricatures. The kid was mute but he wasn’t dumb. He spiced up his dull life with his cartoons and sketches. Sometimes, it was the school bully being chased by an ostrich, at others, it was the headmaster having a difficult time handling his young kids.
He didn’t even leave out his parents from this equation. Her mother’s regular rendezvous will be caught in his caricatures of the fat hairy man. Even the daily episode of saas-bahu serials didn’t have it easy with him. As a result, most of the people in his life considered him to be a nuisance.
Only the squirrel made some sense to him, and he made sense to the squirrel. The squirrel’s antics never failed to amaze Jimmy. He pioneered in drawing squirrels and made a treasure trove out of those sketches. Little did he know then that this will open up the doors to another world someday. He called these collection “Sciuridae”. It was the proper name, err the scientific name of the squirrel.
Cut to the present time, this quiet little lid has metamorphosed into an adult butterfly. Jimmy has now become the renowned cartoonist Jimmy. He is still up to his usual antics of raking up of a storm with his pen. The classrooms and the home theatre has replaced high society parties, corporate functions, and other such idiosyncrasies. As usual little Jimmy celebrated them with mirth and fervor by ridiculing them all with the stroke of his pen. Here too he was widely despised but certainly can’t be disposed of, altogether. For the speechless Jimmy was indispensable and often lit up the space with his sketches, caricatures, and mimes.
Over the years a lot has changed but cartoonist Jimmy remained the same – fragile and timid, as he was 3 decades ago. Now, in his forties, Jimmy still remains the comical self whom no-one accepted. He couldn’t accept others as well. For his mother’s treachery bore a lasting impression on his mind and all the broken friendships he encountered all through his life made him more cynical.
So, here he was nursing a heart which was neither broken nor plastered but perhaps missing a valve to separate the blood from mixing. And just like the blood, his emotions too were haphazard and mixed, making him a wild goose out in the wild.
Hence, after some rather unsuccessful stints in mating and match-making, Jimmy accepted his fate. He wasn’t interested in a partner anymore – neither on or off the bed.
“Perhaps a partner in crime would be better”, he thought.
“I should get hold some con-woman, or god-woman and make some money out of her.”
While this was his state of mind, the state of his fate was something other than that.
Jimmy was in a social gathering, another high society party in the city when he came across another antique specimen like him. Reema Mishra, a young journalist who wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Reema was a quiet person like Jimmy but unlike him, she could speak.
So, one fine day while Jimmy was attending the business party, Mrs. Mehta, the hostess introduced Reema to him. Reema was blind but cynical and comical like him. From the first time they met, their unlikely likelihood brought them closer. One spoke while the other heard. One drew while the other enacted it. That’s how they complemented each other. They were one side of the same coin. Concentric circles who were fragile and incomplete around the edges but complete at the center. Together they stabilized each other’s edges.
Coming back to their awkward first meeting, this was the situation at the party when they meet.
The venue has lavishly decorated banquet hall overlooking a lush green lawn and garden area. All the people were decked in their best attires. Amidst this condition, a young lad entered the room clad in his trademark white kurta and blue denim.
He is looking for a girl, who does not know he exists or the story that has brought him here. He has no reasons to be discreet but still, he has to be careful. He is standing near the doorway and surveying the golden banquet hall, which is filled with refined bodies in saris and jackets, and beautiful young women with straight hair who never make facial expressions. But they will, soon. Any moment now.
As he made his way into the mannequin crowd, he noticed a quiet girl standing surveying the delicious spread in the buffet, all the while making weird expressions. Apparently, it was Reema explaining someone (who remained invisible) about the various things people do while eating.
Jimmy was about to move that way when Mr. Mehta called him for a chat.
“Eh, Jimmy what do you think of our new product?” asked Mr. Mehta.
“A bunch of moles has developed on my skin” gestured Jimmy.
“Making fun of our fairness cream, are you? Why don’t make a cartoon of it?” asked Mr. Mehta.
“I already have and took out of table napkin from his pocket”
“This looks familiar”, said Mr. Bhansal
It was a sketch of 2 girls – one fat, short and dark-skinned, another one slim, tall and fair. The taller one resembled Reema. Below the sketches, it was written “White Ink and Black Ink – The new age inking lotion”.
“It’s that blind journalist from the Todays News”, said Mr. Mehta
He at once took the drawing to Mrs. Mehta. Mrs. Mehta being the perfect gossip queen and neighborhood aunty immediately took to her task and spread the word like a wildfire. In no time, the whole party came to know that Jimmy had an inkling for Reema Mishra.
Well, this didn’t go down well with Reema. She was quite offended with all the gossip about her. When Mrs. Mehta introduced Reema to Jimmy, she went off with her ballistic sarcastic missiles instantly. This is where the camaraderie started.
“So, you are the new man in life” Reema sarcastically taunted Jimmy.
“Well, what can I do? I couldn’t resist the delicacies you were serving at buffet area” gestured Jimmy Mrs. Mehta conveyed the message to Reema.
“By the way, what did you draw?”
“See it for yourself”, Jimmy took her hands and touched the napkin.
As Mrs. Mehta explained the drawing Reema chronicled with her fingers and a teary-eyed smile flickered in her face. It reminded of her teenage days when she was an ugly looking fat blind girl, a burden and a bad omen for her family.
“Can I keep it?”
Jimmy put the napkin in the pocket of her coat.
That moment Jimmy knew that he had found the girl. Indeed it was Reema. Fragile, dense and cynical just like him. Their friendship went on to flourish and so did their relationship. Jimmy learned braille for Reema while Reema learned the sign language for Jimmy.
Today, they don’t require any language to communicate.
For theirs is the language of love.
The Language of Silence.