These happy days in Bangalore, often in cloudy mornings and chilly evenings when the traffic is meagre and air is fresh, on the sad wide roads of Marathalli, can be seen a broad shouldered, leather jacketed and aviator-ed guy, riding away on his prized dhuk dhuk bullet with not a care in the world. A cuss word here, a jumped signal there, and he is gone before you know.
If you have made a traffic error and caused him some trouble, chances are he will land you with knuckle sandwiches faster than you could say sorry.
To others on the wrong side of such situations, he could be a nightmare.
To me, he is Bhai!
I call him by many names.
Bhai, NiMu, Nimmba, Nimutryx, NiMuSOCO, Nimuluru, Chakku, Ghoda, Murray, Pahadi, NimuGhat, Lohaghat ka loha, Bullet King and Nimurender among many other on-the-go variations of his initials.
What I have not called him, however, is Nitish Murari, which is his real name.
It does not matter what I call him.
He is the rock at my rock-bottom.
He may have a million names, but he is that one true friend you call when you need one.
It was in the month of August 2011 that this sturdy, muscular and uptight boy from the hills of Uttarakhand walked into my life as a fellow batchmate in NIT Jamshedpur in electrical stream.
He had a strange air about him, for he dressed up different. He looked different. He talked different.
I and other folks that were local to the Bihar-Jharkhand culture were the norm there. Didn’t care what we wore or ate or looked like as long we got our fill of bakar (NIT JSR slang for doing pointless things). We never bothered with our hairdo or to wear any brands and were in the habit of wearing the same trouser for weeks.
And then walked in NiMu with his bright and long plain orange and green tees, his adidas shoes and trackpants. He could be seen running in the early hours when the rest of hostel was about to go to sleep (this would change with time). His hill-folk calves and broad shoulders set him apart for all the other sportsmen in our batch.
Everyone else there wanted to be an athlete but NiMu was born one.
In the class though he was someone else. He was the brightest (this would get proven five years later) but rarely focussed. When he was focussed, he was as sharp as a knife (hence we started calling him Chakku).
I remember way back in my first semester when we were in adjacent and sometimes in same practical groups, he would be the one doing the arguing with lab in-charge.
I knew him, he knew me, but we weren’t friends, mostly cause our “fun” groups did not overlap. NiMu had all the pluck and fury to be one of the bad guys of the batch while I was the quintessential good guy wannabe. He had a group of his own, and I hung out with different folks.
Only later, the contrast in us would make me Kaka and him, NiMu.
The first two years that we spent in the same hostel, I wrote poetries and blogs while NiMu made trips and emptied bottles. We weren’t great friends, but I respected him, and he respected me.
For two years I was getting surprised at the amount of good and talent in this guy from the hills had, showing signs of having the purest hearts around. But I still was not very comfortable.
All that was about to change on our trip to Hyderabad for two months. In our time together, I got to fully trust NiMu and his gall. He was careless, but he always intended well. He was rash, but he never crossed the line of too much. He would get immensely angry at something he believed was right and worth fighting for. He had every trait of the hill-folk: loyalty, temper and pride.
And he never let his friends down.
That he was funny (mostly unintentionally) came as an absolute surprise. He has been the source and the target of my most brutal jokes and memes, and he takes it sportingly because he considers me his friend. His shayari is lame but humorous and his laughter is infectious that does not seem to stop.
The 41-49 incident in Hyderabad eased away all inhibitions because this was a guy who could take a joke and laugh at himself. Folks like that are rare. He would call himself “panther” but say he had the “jeher” of cobra in the video games we played. He would first get beat and then get focussed. A focussed NiMu is dangerous, and then he would settle for nothing but headshots, so much so, that we blamed his laptop to be hexed.
That he hates summers is well known, and us imitating the sound of cold wind (Whooooooooo) is an inside joke that gets a reaction from him, even after six years of its inception.
That he bought a new laptop and to demonstrate its keyboard was waterproof, poured water on it and got the keys smoked still makes me laugh.
That his “Aaaooooo” is an inside joke, directed at girls and all others alike, is pure humor. It is used in our group chats to summon for a conference call, and at the same time, humorously, at something we shall be afraid of.
It is our war cry to anything and everything.
Girls? A very sweet “Aaaooo”
Friends? A very sarcastic, “Aaaaoooo”
Police? A very defiant “Aaaaaoooooooo”.
My final two years of NIT were made unforgettable because of NiMu and BaMz (the third wheel for another blog post). Be it in “hostel I” where we lazed around studying engineering subjects or going for tea and samosa in shyamda. Be it our cricket matches and his sports laurels. Be it just carrom and coffee in canteen. Be it his modelling flares and acting chops, NiMu has done it all.
I have been with him on night rides to distant unknowns just to have tea. I have piggybacked him from drunk parties on my way back because there is no one else I would trust my life with. NiMu is a great biker. When drunk, he only gets better.
The greatest time with him would of course be our Puri trip. For two days we were there, he was our lifeguard on the shore and tour guide at konark.
That our friendship only got stronger after college is a testament that it is for life. NiMu has many ambitions and he wants to chase them all. He is never satisfied with status quo and relentlessly chases his next dream.
And yet, after all this years, he has hardly changed. NiMu can be a ticking time bomb and yet melts at the slightest gestures.
He is my brother from another mother.
When I need help, and I often do, with NiMu..
all I have to do, is to ask.