A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return.
The ‘Word of the Day’ mail was no coincidence. It was all part of a conspiracy. The word and its meaning resonating with my life (and mocking it) was just the icing on the cake. I wondered who would savour that cake, as I sat perched on the coconut tree which was the tallest in the neighbourhood. From here I saw my gang of friends, wasting hours at our usual hangout – the semi-constructed railway bridge. How I wished. To waste.
But I couldn’t. I’m the Cocoman!
The Kochi heat had pierced my costume; sweat was enveloping me. I should get a revamped costume, I thought for the zillionth time this summer.
Bored and helpless, I scrolled down the gallery in my phone. Within seconds, time flew to the days of a carefree life, when I was lean and useless. But happy. I felt a weight drop inside me, seeing us friends beaming and up to no good. Life had changed when a similar weight had dropped on my head, for real. “A coconut. Biiiig one.” The sleazy doctor had said with inappropriate gestures, when I woke up three days later in the hospital. When Newton’s finding had lured a coconut on a sunny afternoon, the latter dived down, landing on me as I was walking back home for lunch, trying to sniff my mother’s fish fry from distance.
I’ve not had fish fry ever since. I’d become the Cocoman – a vegan.
The phone gallery now displayed photos of news reports about me. But before I had turned into the “Chank of Kochi”, it was a weird phase for me, alone at home. The overnight muscles were alright; I could live with it. But the uncontrolled emission of coconut shells from thin air and sudden eruptions of coir from my wrist took time to get accustomed to, let alone master. Now, these were branded as ‘Thengakeer’ and ‘Cococoir’ respectively. The scans of the newspapers had me excitedly speaking of my story, wearing my first costume which had strands of long, green hair that resembled coconut tree leaves. That was my superhero costume until the troll pages from Facebook hit me. Yet, I was thrilled then. My own Facebook page soon got a blue tick and I trended every time I took a leap from a coconut tree to another. A posed, flashed and selfie-d shamelessly, and people loved me.
Fan pages followed, flex boards rose up. Cococoir was being auctioned, having been picked up from wherever I left it. (This was banned after one dude hanged himself with a piece of it, while posting it live on FB with #cocodeath) Merchandise, events, chief guest invites…everything happened in no time. The Kerala Coir Board even offered me a handsome contract if I endorsed it.
Life was good. At that time, I only prayed that my life too did not face the catastrophe of my American counterparts – the entry of villains once someone turned into a superhero.
My prayer was rejected, like the plea for a one-rupee balance in Kochi’s private buses. With contempt no lesser than of those bus conductors, God played the entrance music of super-villains.
Thus began my agony.
Pooppalascious slid through the city, leaving behind a thick trail of ‘pooppal’ or slippery mould, until my super-precise Thengakeer flattened him. Lulu Ma Ma, named after the only sound the creature could make (Ma Ma Ma Ma), hijacked Kochi’s heart throb – Lulu Mall, with its brooding figure and tentacles. I was almost out of Cococoir ammo, entangling the creature and its countless limbs. And Maiday was another menace, glueing people to their spots by shooting jets of maida dough. Thanks to my evasive swings, he was bundled and is now supplementing to the Sub-jail’s Friday menu of porottas.
They all came and left. The media turned frantic. I was a legend. And soon, thoroughly unhappy.
My friends did not like my muscles anymore. And my family was always wary of my status – the marital one. “Superhero can only be a part-time thing. Nobody would give their daughter to an unemployed guy.” On social media, the number of haters were on the rise – God knows why! The media covered me only on those days when stray dogs did not bite anyone new. And incredibly, none of the useless villains ever threatened any beautiful lady, giving me zero scope for super-heroic romance. Only young chaps with hair like mushrooms were perpetually enthusiastic about me; and clicking selfies with them were of no joy.
Then why? I wondered. Why was I continuing to do this. Why wasn’t I down there with my friends, discussing IPL and making rounds inside Lulu Mall?
Before I could comprehend it, the Twitter App buzzed. Someone had tagged ‘@cocomanreal’. I had to add ‘real’ to the handle because ‘@cocoman’ was already taken! Opportunist bastards.
The tweet had an image of people running – their hands on noses. The text said “hlp us bro @cocomanreal ths smelly buddy calling himself septica #shittyscene #infopark”
A new challenge. I took a deep breath. Not because Septica would be foul smelling, but because that’s what I’ve seen people do before doing something dramatic. Deep breath. And I dived down.
In the microseconds before I would swing a strand of Cococoir, my super-mind answered the question of why I was doing all of these…
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Parker was told.
“Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Wayne was told.
“Give me a scotch. I’m starving.” Stark had told someone.
We all have had varied lives. Yet, when danger knocked on the door – amused and over-confident, we start to burn inside. It’s a flame that can be quenched only when that door is opened and when that danger is greeted with a smile. It’s an impulse untameable, residing within us, deep beneath the woes of daily lives, yet one that rushes to the top when the moment came.
I swung and headed towards Info Park.