The other day our neighbor Robin looked postively grave.
Like we always do, we tried to coax him into talking about it. It took him a few long South Indian sighs and serious head nods to open up to us.
He broke into a squeak and then somehow harnessed his voice into a regular tone.
He began by saying, " Keskar I called my dad and he says that I am twenty eight and it is time I do something with my life!"
I do not have the slightest idea why he calls me by my last name but looking at his face I realized that I had more important issues to address.
So we had the following conversation
Robin : Keskar, I always thought that when I turn thirty I will stop working and start my restaurant!
Me : Yeah, but what's stopping you? You can still do it!!
Robin : No Keskar, but my dad said I am twenty eight and I have not done anything with my life.
Me: Well, yeah I agree on that! I always see you dozing off on the couch or smoking. I wonder what "doing something in life" means in your language.
Robin: Keskar! It is not about that Keskar! I had no idea that I am twenty eight. I thought like I am twenty six now and in January next year I will be twenty seven! Keskar, but my father says that I am twenty eight. It is like I lost a year of my life Keskar! Now I have just two years before I would want to stop working Keskar!
Yes, I agree that there is a near annoying appearance of my last name up there. That is exactly how it is. The word "Keskar" is said in all the scales that a bad singer could try before he hits the one that sounds the worst. All of this goes with eyes dancing in every corner of the carpet but never looking up at me.
Me : When were you born?
Robin: January 1981?
That is how a question is answered with a question.
Me: Then you are right. You will be twenty seven going on twenty eight coming January.
Robin: No! I will be twenty seven.
Me: Yes, but you will enter the twenty eighth year of your life
Robin: What do you mean by "enter the twenty eighth year of your life" Keskar?
Me: That means that you would be approaching the end of your twenty eighth year all through 2008.
Robin: ( With a disgusted frown) No Keskar!! I will be twenty seven!! ( Then he fishes for a paper and a pen from the eternal mess that he has made around the couch) Wait Keskar, I will count!
Me: There is no need to count Robin! You will only know what you already know because it will add up to twenty seven.
Robin: Then why do you say I am entering the twenty eighth year of my life Keskar?
Me: Did you go to school?
Robin : Shut up Keskar!!
Me: No really! How did you make it through Engineering?
Robin: I copied and fell at the lecturer's feet. Sometimes I begged Keskar!
Me: Okay. Do you know anything about 'whole numbers' and 'fractions'?
Robin: Shut up Keskar. Of course I do.
Me: So say you turn twenty seven on the 9th of January. How old do you think you will be on the 9th of February?
Robin: 27 years and one month?
Question for a question again!
Me: Yes! Exactly! So you have lived one month of the twelve months you are supposed to live to turn twenty eight. Do you get it now?
Robin: Keskar, but I am still twenty seven right? If someone asks me how old I am on the 9th of February 2008, I say twenty seven right?
Me: Yes but you are going towards twenty eight.
Robin: Naaaaw Keskar!! Why does that number have to come into my life in 2008?
Me: Okay you can say that you are twenty seven. Imagine twenty seven rooms that you enter and exit for each new year of your life. In January 2008, you will lock the twenty seventh room behind you and you will enter the twenty eighth room where you will stay for a year.
Robin: Yes Keskar. That is a nice way to put it. So do I tell people that I am twenty eight? Since I am in the twenty eighth room?
I used to worry about my pathalogical urge to hit people with frying pans but at such times I thank God that I feel that way.
Me: No Robin. You can tell people that you are twenty two. No one cares how old you are anyway. You hardly make a difference to anyone. So you can just choose your age each year.
Robin: No Keskar! I really wanted to stop working when I turned thirty Keskar!
Me: Look Robin, if you cannot calculate and state your right age when you have lived more than a quarter of your potential life there is no meaning to anything you want to do with it anyway. So just pick a number and be happy. What is it with not working after thirty? It is such an American Dream! You should work all your life. Work is the only salvation.
Robin: Shut up Keskar! You with your vacuum-cleaner philosophy. I wanted to become happy when I turn thirty but everyday I realize that I become more and more unhappy.
Me: Hmmph. I reckon that is because you have some issues with dreaming the right kind of dreams.
Robin: (Speechless for a while) ( A solemn and quizzical expression on his face) ( Neck turned sideways like an alert bird) Yeah maybe Keskar. All I dream is about earning money and becoming rich! I think that is the only happiness in life.
Me: Yeah for you that is a lot of effort. I am so glad you are at least a bit greedy about money. That is a fairly decent dream. I think you should chase it now that you have just three years left.
Robin: Promise Keskar!!? ( His usage of the word 'promise' closely translates to the word 'really' in normal human language) That means I am twenty seven right?
Me: Yes Robin your chronological age is twenty seven but I have serious doubts about the linearity of your emotional age.
Robin: Keskar you are so mean! How old are you Keskar?
Me: I am twenty four
Robin: That means you are twenty four going on twenty five Keskar?
Me: Oh My God! Naw!! You are not supposed to use that number till next July!!!