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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#RubyIyer: Bombay Shorts episode 15: BE A MAN!

Circus performer, walking on a steel rope, Bombay local trains

Recap: Ruby Iyer is pushed in front of a local train in Bombay, and wakes up with super powers. Now, as @BombayVigilante can she stop a man from jumping off the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Read, to find out—

- Be a Man! -

“So, are you going to jump or what?”

There she was, perched on a steel rope, her toes gripping the thick steel chord in the manner of a circus performer, and the jumper had not even noticed her.

When she had signed up to be a superhero, she had anticipated running after villains, perhaps rescuing cats; not trying to talk down someone who was desperate to take his own life.

“So… Hello! Anybody home? Sirji I am talking to you!” There was no response from the man perched on the tiny ledge built into the slippery steel girder.

His bald head shone in the sun, a perfect compliment to the folds of his wide, bull-like neck, which rippled over the fear, trapped in his flabby stomach.

In his large horn-rimmed spectacles, perched low on his hooked nose, he looked more like an oversized pigeon than of the human race. His torso straining against a too-tight red coloured T-shirt, legs clad in torn jeans, and just now folded over, in an agonized yoga asana.

As if reminded of her own discomfort, the muscles in her thighs clenched, sending out distress signals. She shifted slightly, wondering who was going to lose grip and plummet first; then, inched a little closer to where he was clinging to the almost invisible perch set into the side of the massive steel pylon.

Out of nowhere, a brainwave popped up, prompting Ruby to ask: “so who was she?”

“Uh!” His head swivelled to her, then back, to whatever point in the distance held his fascination.

At least she had his attention now: “Love affair kya?” When there was no reply Ruby prodded, “arre! Say something! Kuch to bolo!”

“I’ll jump… don’t… don’t threaten me!” His voice emerged, low, rusty, as if unused for a while, and she wondered how long he had been sat there, hovering between realities.

“Okay!” She tried to relax, her body twisted in a position, which would have done any Olympics winning gymnast proud.

Then, as if she had all the time in the world, she drawled “I know you are upset, but frankly if you jump do you think anyone is going to miss you?” He jerked his head at that.

Sensing, she had his full attention now, Ruby ploughed on: “Naam kya hai?” At his stony silence, she signed, then softened her voice: “if you don’t tell me, I can’t do anything. You do want me to help you, right?”

She couldn’t tell if he gave a slight nod, but at his hoarse “Amit,” she nodded in satisfaction and plunged ahead, “so, Amit! Just because she broke your heart, you will kill yourself? If you are man, go after her, pursue her, woo her… show her why she belongs to you.

Be a man!” Whoever thought superheroes had just to don their costumes and masks and run after the bad guys, had got it sooo wrong! 

“I AM a man!” his short growl had her starting and just for a second, she swayed, feeling the ground come up to meet her, before righting herself. Having met her maker once already she was in no hurry for a repeat performance. At least not that soon.

“Achaa?” She sniggered, intent on needling him just a little more, enough for him to forget the depths of what he had sunk to, just a few seconds ago.  “So what are you going to do about it then?”

“What to do? She… she hates me!” His voice ended in a hastily choked sob.

Ruby looked at him aghast. Was that tears on his cheeks, or just sweat from being at the juncture of the bright-red-sunlight meeting the blinding-white-heat of the tarred road all day? Could falling in love actually reduce even grown men to snivelling fools?

“No, she doesn’t!” Was she really having this conversation with a man on the verge of jumping of an emotional cliff?

“She was a beauty!” He whimpered: “my first real love. But woh mere bhagya mein nahi thi; so my first love became the last love.”

“Arre, first love is normally fast love, it’s the real love that counts!” She shot back, then wondering how to manage the love-sick puppy, that the larger-than-life-man was threatening to melt into she changed track: “how did you meet?”

He cleared his voice and Ruby hoped, he was not going to make this a huge production number: “First I heard her voice, it was her very first day at work, and my heart said she was the one. She was made for me.”

“So she is your colleague?” Ruby prompted, hoping to keep him talking.

“No, no, my boss! And, when I saw her that was it! Kaput!” Amit gestured widely with his hands, his face lighting up with the memory, his enthusiasm on recollecting how he had met his beloved, making him lose his balance and carrying him over the edge of the small stand he was perched on. As he fell towards the white-tipped waves in the sea far below, Ruby stopped breathing: the shock holding her motionless, before adrenaline firing through her bloodstream, she lunged after him.

—To be continued

Laxmi Hariharan is a Kindle bestselling author.  Find her @laxmi or Facebook.  Want more @RubyIyer episodes?  Visit her blog, Young Adult Soul.

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