Nandkumar, we call him Nandu is a soft-spoken, wheatish, stout built. His mustache, Ray-Ban sunglasses, and bullet motorbike reminded me of Salman Khan’s Dabangg.

Nandu cleared BPSC(Bihar public service commission) and posted as BDO in the nearby block from my hometown. Nandu’s father was a headmaster in the middle school in my village. I grew up playing Gilli danda, goli-goli, spinning lattu with him every summer.

I wonder if it was not the strict grumpy father of Nandu, would he reached this far in his career. A moveable blackboard and a chair for the teachers were limited furniture at our village school. Students would bring their seats: ginny bags, pens, books along with them. Most classes would happen around the mango trees.

I met Nandu by fluke at the railway station while strolling to my old-time favorite comics shop at the railway platform. He invited me over for dinner that I gladly accepted with the hope of alcohol serving. Bihar is a dry state like Gujarat. One has to buy alcohol illegally in black by paying 10X more. But for babus and netas(politicians), it was always available in abundance.

For old memories and reciprocity, I was confident of my Old monk rum. Nandu was in Delhi preparing for the IAS exams. We had many alcohol sessions at his barsaati in Mukharjee Nagar. I paid for most of those sessions because I was earing and he had limited money.

I was at Nandu’s main gate sharp at 8 pm. Electricity condition has improved, so finding the house was not that difficult.

Nandu hai kya?
Aayee, wo aa zainge. A pretty lady opened the door and greeted and introduced me as Deepika. She was about six feet tall, well built. Her eyes reminded me of the female lead from Nagraj comics. The long sindur, dark red bindi, and hand full of bangles made me wonder if it was Nandu’s instruction. I was happy and surprised with the fact of Nandu marrying someone out of his league. It happens in Bihar; a government job gets you anything.

I could see a bottle of Old monk. Deepika bought hot water and a plate full of onion pakora. I was sober for two weeks, hence without further wait poured my first peg.

Deepika mentioned that Nandu had gone to the nearby village to buy lamb meat for dinner preparation. We kept talking while I was emptying my peg; Deepika was an orphan and, Nandu gave her a family and a shelter.

I had stopped counting my peg; I saw someone in the room in a white sari and milky white hair flying all over her face. I ignored it and focussed on my rum glass. As my clock gave 10 pm alarm, I saw the same structure running towards me with a plate and human flesh on it.

Khao, isko bhi kaho, tazza hai.

Was it Deepika, some devil or a trance meditated mind. Something was not right and, my alcohol effect cleaned in a second. Deepika’s eye was all in rage. I puked, cried for help, and was it god or Bihar electricity department magic; there was a power cut. The runner in me took over, and I was out from the village in quick.

How can someone sober a few hours back turn into a devil, I wondered while entering my house.

Sale gandu, Kahan tha tu? Screamed Nandu. Tera 4 ghante intzaar Kiya aur tu aaya he nahi. Thak haar ke mae he aa gaya.

Who was she? Did this happen to me or, was it a dream?

I told mom about the incident. She hugged me and said Ma Durga saved my life. Was it some newborn baby slaughtered by the devil and offered to me on that plate?

Nandu still thinks I took some weed or bhang and, there is no one named Deepika in her life or the colony. He is happily single and always ready to mingle like his idol Salman Khan.