Bhaskar was never into women. Later he realized that he wasn’t into men, either. It all fell in place when he first made love to a Peepal tree.
It was luscious, that tree. Beautiful green leaves that hung in splendid style. Pre-2022, people never really got it. What’s in a tree? Sure you hug it. To protect that is. And then shade, clean air and care for the environment. Post-2022, people gave this false notion of environmental safety a new name:
Imagine a woman with a thousand hour glass figures – exactly. That’s the appeal a fully leafed tree has on a telepathic adult human. And they eat sunlight. The nerve endings on the leaves of a tree were later found to be the most sensitive thing in the planet. Emo kids quickly won back that honour with the careful use of black tongue and a blue-eyed dolphin piercing.
But people never really stopped cutting down trees. One reason was, they needed paper. Another reason was; bored lumberjacks tended to become transvestites, who then cross-dressed back to become men and hung out in local bars looking for another lumberjack-turned-transvestite-turned-lumberjack. The straight lumberjacks never really had a problem with such encounters though. Douglas, the sole representative of that faction, was always too drunk to lift his head; let alone do all the cross-dressing.
A one night stand between two non-straight lumberjacks usually went like this:
Guy 1 removes the jacket of Guy 2
Guy 2 removes the belt of Guy 1
Guy 1 removes the shirt of Guy 2
Guy 2 pulls the pants down of Guy 1
Guy 1 reaches behind Guy 2 and pulls off his bra
Guy 2 puts his hands inside Guy 1’s panties
And what they did afterwards cannot be made explicitly clear; but it did involve a cactus, two brinjals, one dunkin’ doughnut, three silkworms and a tub filled with Head and Shoulders Menthol shampoo.
When Lumberjacks were doing this, other people were hugging trees; and got arrested for doing so. Hippies celebrated another one over the newly telepathic P22 (Post-2022) people.
“Hey brother!” said Randall the Hippy, as he took another drag of his Manali. “I don’t want to say, ‘I always told you so.’ Because that’s not really love. That’s hate. And that’s not what we really believe in. But, if you really wanna hear it; hey, we always told you so.”
Needless to say, the Hippy culture saw another boom during this era.
In India though, more moral policing ensued. People were getting beaten up left, right, centre and a bit to the top where the telepathic aura was. After repeated threats of spoiling Valentine’s Day and labelling it as derogatory and not an Indian tradition, they quickly turned their attention to World Earth Day.
“Earth Day is immoral,” announced Mr. Sainik.
“But it is about the Earth. Indian traditions talk about Dharthi Ma (Mother Earth),” countered a reporter who was doing his 25th ‘Breaking News!’ of the day.
“Earth Day is immoral,” continued Mr. Sainik, blissfully ignoring the protests of the reporter. “And we will beat up everyone who is seen within 10 feet of a tree.”
In any other country that would have been a problem. But in India, especially in places where the Sainiks were much in strength (i.e., cities with high number of women and low number of inches-below-waist for skirts), this didn’t really pose much of a threat.
It was tough luck for Bhaskar though. He didn’t think much, when an average Sainik came to the park bench he was sitting on. He should’ve panicked when the Sainik drew a tape measure from his pocket.
“Bhaisaab. Can you hold this end with your leg?” asked the Sainik.
“Of course. But may I,” Bhaskar tried asking. But as soon as he kept his toe over the tape, the Sainik slowly started moving towards a Banyan tree.
“Saar!” shouted the Sainik to someone at a distance. “9 feet 4 inches, Sir!”
At this point Bhaskar should ideally have fled. But he did not. Instead, he sat peacefully, but a bit bewildered, on his park bench when a lathi knocked him unconscious.
“Wake up, sunshine,” called a mellifluous voice that seemed to hang around in the air for a good 10 seconds after it was heard.
Bhaskar slowly opened his eyes. Strokes of gold beamed down at him. He squinted. A million shapes formed over him.
“Is this heaven?” asked Bhaskar. “In that case I am sorry. I think I’ve come to the wrong after-life.”
The source of the voice swayed a bit to the sides and gave out the most sensuous giggle Bhaskar had ever heard in his life. The giggle hung around for about a good 13 seconds, partially because of it being of a higher register.
“You are not dead, Dearie. You are under my shade.”
“Yes. If you really want to know, the truth is Buddhism. That’s what my great grandma told Siddhartha as well.”
“You mean, Gautama Buddha?”
“Yes, yes. Whatever you wanna call him now. My ancestors used to call him Sid.”
“Wake up Sid!” exclaimed Bhaskar.
“No… no,” corrected the voice. “That was just a coincidence. But he was a good lad, that Sid. Quite cute too. With droopy eyes…”
“Oh no. Not him. He had sharp looks. Except for his hair, of course. Which was a bit curly. I was talking about Ranbir”
“But, who are you?” asked Bhaskar.
“I am Peyali, Bhaskar.”
“How did you know my name?”
“Ah, you silly Bhaskar,” said Peyali. “We know telepathy for much, much longer than you human folks did. How do you think we told Siddhartha about Nirvana?”
And then it became clear to Bhaskar. He saw that the countless shapes hanging over him were leaves. His head was rested on curvy roots.
“You,” said Bhaskar. “You are a Peepal tree?”