Skunky: Hey, want to see something nice? Here, come closer.
Me: (Stupid fool that I am) What what? Are you going to offer me a piece of your orange?
Skunky: NO! (squeezes peel of orange very quickly into my eye, so that a spray of something very sharp hits my face, making me cry out. Through watering eyes I catch her grinning, the air in the bus smelling of oranges)
Me: Aaaaaargh!This means war.
(We take turns squirting orange-peel poison at each other, and then wonder whether we should try it on the driver. We decide against it. We are young, but we're not that idiotic)
Skunky: Hey, you want to practice throwing the peels into the windows of passing vehicles? Ten points if you get it in.
It was only later that we found out what "Don't Pollute The Environment" meant. And, to our credit, we did manage to chuck most of the peels into the buses. So the roads remained clean.
We come to a corner, turn it, and are on the road. Cars come at us in whooshes of bright light, and our laughter sounds harsher and nearer, as if it were ricocheting off their flashing bodies.
A group of people walk towards us in Pujo finery - big earrings, mismatched purses, shiny new shoes that have nothing to do with the rest of the outfits, the works. We try to look inconspicuous and fail, especially since quite a few of us are cackling insanely and the other half are, well, tottering.
Hiju: Do you realise that these people are walking towards us?
[I stare blankly]
Hiju: No, they're walking the other way. We're the only people walking forwards. The whole world's against us. (eyes her shoes tragically)
[Well, we tried not to die laughing]
The Narcissist: (gasps for breath and finds her voice) you know, I love you guys. I really do. This is fun. Oooh, look, a crossing! We're going to cross the street, yay!
[She's like that in real life too, yes.]
Me: I'm not crossing the street.
The Shrew: Why not?
Me: Because I'll die. (am encountered with blank look, and proceed to explain) I just know I will. Some car will mow me down and I'll be a stain on the road. Bloody cars. What do they think of themselves? They're just tin boxes on wheels, for the love of God. They MUST NOT kill me.
The Shrew: So they won't kill you. Come on, cross!
Me: No, I'll die. Did I not just explain it to you?
The Shrew: This isn't the time, really. I can't handle you like this.
Me: You prissy spoilsport! Can't you see I'll DIE if I cross the street? I'm only eighteen, I don't want to die while I'm still eighteen! Lemmego Lemmego! I'll die. You want your friend to DIE?
I was dragged across the street and was able to stomach a huge dinner thereafter. And I'm here writing this, so it's obvious I lived to tell the tale. But I'm still afraid of cars. Bloody cars.
Me: Hey, stop doing that schoolwork.. listen to me.
The Gollum: (puts pen down, eyes me wearily) Yes?
Me: Did you know that when you're cremated the only part of you that remains afterwards is your bellybutton?
The Gollum: You mean when a person is cremated. I've never been.
Me: Don't distract me. So your naabhi is the only thing that remains?
The Gollum: So I've heard.
Me: So where do all the discarded bellybuttons go? There must be someone who collects them.
The Gollum: (Doesn't bat an eyelid - proof of the superhuman levels of endurance she's now reached) No, I think they just lie there. And then maybe they're swept away.
Me: Where's your sense? Of course someone collects them! The Naabhi Collector! He collects bellybuttons.
The Gollum: Okay, fine. The sooner this ends the better. So what does this Naabhi Collector do with the bellybuttons?
Me: He strings them into necklaces, of course. And wears them. Or maybe he makes things out of them. Showpieces maybe.
The Gollum: You're twisted. I don't want to buy any decorative items for a while now.
Me (bristling) : Oh, so you find the Naabhi Collector sick, but you can buy those fake Made-In-China things? They have bone powder in them, I've heard.
Me: It might.
The Gollum: So you're telling me it's better to have a showpiece with some long-dead person's bellybutton in it instead of bone china?
Me (as if stating the obvious): Yes!
The Gollum: In that case, Naabhi Showpieces it is. Somewhere in my house is a bellybutton. Hey... (suddenly becomes interested) do you think he has a patent for it?
Me: Dhat. I've always hated showpieces. Don't you have to finish your work?
And no, I did not get murdered for that.