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Self portrait
Literature & Narrative

Self-Portrait (Short): Gaurav Monga.

‘Hold on’, he said to his friend. I am getting a call from my mother. ‘’Hey Ma!” He switched numbers, put his friend on hold. Gaurav spent almost his whole day on the telephone, ever since he was a child.

As a kid he liked to organize his friends’ birthday parties and would take out numbers from a black diary, calling the parents of all his friends, seeking permission from their parents.

He would always ask them to come along with their kids, that there would be pastries and sandwiches and they should come, too.

Gaurav still likes to put people together; he wakes up every morning, sends messages to his friends, saying, ‘Good Morning, I love you, you are such a gem’ and because he is constantly on the phone and talking to people of all ages—in most cases, he has kept in touch more with wives and parents of his friends—he has begun to think of himself as some kind of telephone operator, relaying messages across the globe.

His dream is to unite couples, pairing shy boys and girls who begin to stutter in the throes of seduction, whose lips freeze before a first kiss. He gives them romantic tips, identifying erogenous zones.

Gaurav likes not only to spend time on the phone but enjoys talking to people on the street and loves the comfort of bazaars, train stations, bus stops, open zones, for sometimes he gets sick of talking on the telephone and truly only likes to talk to people who boost his energies.

He does not like long drawn-out conversations, does not like to be schooled, he would rather do the schooling and loves to talk to his friends in gibberish, fragments of languages interspersed with inarticulate sounds, sound effects.

Having lived in so many cities across the globe, Gaurav has accumulated the speech affects of multiple languages, though having not really learnt the languages themselves, he is more interested in edges, crumbs, the crust of a burnt toast to nibble on, remains, the sound gestures that accompany most our languages that do not have any singular, fixed semantic reference.

Gaurav likes street food, kebabs and large naans. He likes the leg of a large lamb cooked slowly in its own fat. Sometimes when he wanders into the bazaar, he gets lost and finds himself somewhere in a labyrinth when the bazaar slowly starts to disappear.

On other days, Gaurav spends his time on the telephone, keeping himself apprised of how his friends are doing, whether they are doing fine andnot undergoing any particular discomfort.

He is a telephone operator, relaying messages from one friend to another, putting in touch people he knows would like each other but would be too shy to meet. This is his strength.

Gaurav has never understood what it means to be shy; at times he often turns sour if he cannot contribute to a conversation and to remedy that he changes the subject most often successfully.

He likes to fill up the silent awkwardness with words. At times, he inadvertently humiliates someone by telling him or her the truth. At times, he imagines deliberately humiliating his girlfriend in front of a party of friends as an act of retribution for how lousy she had treated him the whole day before they arrived. These friends often do not know how to respond to that and usually remain silent.

Gaurav is convinced that certain cultures are harmony cultures and others are obsessed with knowing the truth. Although, it may appear that Gaurav is more interested in truth, because he most definitely is not interested in harmony, it is in fact dissonance that he is trying to achieve.

If a story is being related about a dog and his owner, he makes it a point to confuse the two and confound the group. Did the dog go blind or his owner?  Did the dog run away due to lack of love or the owner? 

Gaurav spends his days talking on the phone, entertaining friends, inviting them to his home that he has turned into a salon. He primarily invites women and disperses the men into different rooms.

He particularly likes to seduce the wives of his close friends by wearing black, especially on Saturdays, the day of Saturn, but most of all, Gaurav likes to spend time on the telephone, sipping a cup of tea, speaking to friends, trying to stop himself from spreading slander, what Gaurav enjoys most when he cannot be on the streets in a bazaar, getting his boots polished, or scanning the marketplace, greeting everyone he knows and does not know, for it is Gaurav’s deepest ambition to be a man about town, to know his city’s entire population.

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