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Stories from a MUMBAIKAR…

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Once he completed his graduation, Alber had caught hold of one verity he was not guilty of – His dreams were too big to be detained within the one-room workshop of Kareem Tailors; the epiphanic sounds within his self-proclaimed insane mind were meretriciously louder than the continuous paddling rhythm of his Abbuu’s sewing machine…

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other” asserts Charles Dickens in his novel A Tale of Two Cities. How could he possibly know that?

It was a dusky compendious evening in the laggard town of Latur (eastern Maharashtra) when I first came face-to-face with a mystery. The dust-cloaked greasy face of ALBER MASHAYAK was surprisingly and unassumingly glittering with delight. Mystery Man.

I had never seen a man, 6 feet tall, an unsubtle physique, a pedestal nose, in his early fledgling twenties and in my acquaintance, to be wondrously excited about selling movie tickets outside a single screen theatre, infamously named Sapna. I would refrain the readers from getting into the legal sense of Alber’s act. For he, an enduring movie buff, was in divine happiness over the Friday release of the movie Hum at Sapna.

Jumma chumma de de (read “Jumma, give me a kiss”)” he hymned as he passed dexterously across the thick crowd of youth brigade, presumptuously dressed in an unbuttoned black shirt knotted at the ends to mimic a film star from the movie.

And Yes, it was a hymn for Alber. An ardent passion can turn a flimsy movie song into a hymn. For the Man. Mystery. Again.

“You are a commerce graduate. Second class passed! How could you resort to selling movie tickets illegally? Have you no sense?” Alber’s father – his non-condescending Abbuu, confronted him as he arrived home for dinner.

“Hmmm,” Alber’s sonorous voice could only come up with this. His efforts were mostly concentrated gulping the rice he was served by his mother, his Ammi.

Alber finished his swigging act and rushed back to his room, a small under-the-staircase arrangement that hosted a charpoy and a small lamp; emblazoned posters of film stars surrounding him all along the cracked walls of his personal den. –  Dreams. Uncanny.

Alber had been a good son for his parents. Mostly. His academics were pertinent. Not in a way that his parents boasted his achievements aloud, but they weren’t ashamed of their underachieving son either. His Abbuu, usually dressed in stark white pyjamas and a befitting white kurta, intermittently recalled his son’s, young Alber’s hullaballo whenever a new movie released in the town.

“He used to drag me from my tailor shop, holding my kurta with his tight grip, pleading me to take him to the movie theatre,” Abbuu’s words had a sense of fatherhood when he narrated Alber’s stories as a kid to his friends at his tailor shop. Kareem Tailors.

“May Allah show him the right path. Once my son gets a government job, I will be free from my worries.” Abbuu’s usual ending remarks of a conversation were more an appeal than an asseveration to the Almighty.

The maniacal euphoria the city of Mumbai breathes is veritable and does not exude any scientific or psychological validation in the regard for that matter. ALBER MASHAYAK could not agree more.

Once he completed his graduation, Alber had caught hold of one verity he was not guilty of – His dreams were too big to be detained within the one-room workshop of Kareem Tailors; the epiphanic sounds within his self-proclaimed insane mind were meretriciously louder than the continuous paddling rhythm of his Abbuu’s sewing machine.

MUMBAI was the destination. Alber’s elusion was orchestrated with the inclusions of robbery – Ammi’s Dabba savings, as she referred it; and a late night eloping with one’s beloved dreams. His train travel among the vegetable vendors seated near the toilet door of a passenger train was eventless. The stink around was an ironic signal of the impediments to come.

The journey of ALBER MASHAYAK within Mumbai was multi-folded and jolty – being a spot boy (helper) on the sets of films, television soaps; being an official ticket-window employee at Galaxy Cinema, Bandra; then gradually moving to the role of production assistant on T.V advertising engagements; to leapfrogging to second campaign manager for Parag Sarees – He was unstoppable as the wind. AND RAMBUNCTIOUS TOO JUST LIKE A TWISTER.

Finally at the end of the 6th year of his exile, Alber made that one call he was planning for years – “Hello, Abbuu, Salam Alekum! Alber bol raha hoon. (Read – “Hello, papa, this is Alber”)

The next day the Mashayak family received an invitation to the opening of a company Kareem Film Distributors Pvt. Ltd. Accompanied with it were 2 AC-Tier train tickets to Mumbai.

Alber had proved himself instrumental in the generational metamorphosis of Kareem Tailors to Kareem Film Distributors Pvt. Ltd. Today the distribution company handles most of the distribution business in Mumbai and North India territory for the most prominent film producers in the Indian film industry.

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