"No way! You're kidding me, right?", I said. It has been a tremendous effort keeping a straight face to everything that he had told me until then. I nodded politely to everything he said, asked all the right questions, hmmmmed and aaaahed as if I was on board with whatever he was saying.
But his latest claim was so preposterous, that I could not control myself.
"It is true. I am the one who invented all these nuclear weapons. I am the one who convinced Truman to bomb Japan." said the man with a pale circular patch on his forehead, right where women wear a bindi.
"But why?", I asked.
"Because I am tired. I am tired of roaming this earth. I want to be set free. It was fun for the first few hundred years. And you'd think it would be fun now. But everything gets boring eventually, even sex."
"Hmmmm.... and you are 6000 years old, right? You don't look a day over 35 to me."
"I eat well. Exercise regularly. Still remember everything my father taught me. He used to say - being a brahmin doesn't mean you stuff your face with sweets, grow fat and cram the scriptures. You have to be physically fit to be mentally fit."
I craned my neck hoping to spot the train. The track was still empty. It seemed like I would have to listen to more of this lunatic's rambling. Strike up a conversation with a desi in America, and this is what you get. They either try to sell you an Amway dealership, or they claim to be 6000 years old.
Well, at least he wasn't trying to sell me anything. And he wasn't trying to talk me out of my plans. I thought I'd help him a bit with his delusions.
"So why don't you just invoke one of your astras and destroy the world?"
He shook his head and said,
"Can't. Can't do it anymore. I can teleport and control a few minds and all that. But that's it. Can't make astras any more. The rules of physics have changed. I really miss the tretayug. The human mind was connected, it was so much powerful, we could do things you folks can't even dream of. But then Brahma got sick of it all one day, especially after Arjuna and I had that fight, and decided that humans did not deserve such power. So he made this new set of rules, called it kaliyug, and just changed the world upside down."
"Really?", I wondered where his marijuana came from.
"Yes. You know this whole thing between Arjun and me. It happened very differently from what the books tell you. The books will tell you Arjun was able to revoke his pashupatasta and I could not revoke my brahmastra so I aimed it at Uttara's womb. Now tell me. Do I look like the kind of guy who will kill an unborn child?"
"I don't believe in judging people, but you are talking of destroying the world. That would mean killing a whole lot of unborn children."
"Oh it's different now. Now I am tired. But back then I was honest, idealistic, honourable. I would never do such a thing. You know who was the real culprit?"
"Who? Arjun? He killed his own kid?"
"No! Arjun was dumb. You guys think of Bhim as the dumb one. But Arjun was really dumb. Bhim was not intelligent, sure, but he at least had a mind of his own. I really liked the guy. A real independent spirit. Even Draupadi liked him the best. But this Arjun was like a frigging robot. Always looking for someone's orders to follow. He was a compulsive submissive."
"Well, then who was the culprit?"
"Can't you guess? Don't you know who was the shrewedest and most conniving SOB of them all? The guy with no ethics or decency whatsoever?"
"Hmmmm....Ravan?", I said with the intention of needling him.
"Ravan?? Ravan?? God, cable tv has really scrambled everyone's brains. This is the Mahabharat you fool.."
"I know, I know. I was just pulling your leg. You meant Krishna of course?"
"Who else? That guy always had a trick up his uttariya. Just as I was about to destroy it, he deflected it towards Uttara's womb. Then since it was his own deflection, he was able to revive the child. I told the gods that I didn't do it. But they were all so biased when it came to krishna. It was his word against mine. The God Jury didn't take even 5 minutes in deliberations. They came out and announced, they would snatch my mani, give me leprosy, I was to wander the earth until kaliyug ended."
"You don't seem to suffer from leprosy, dude."
"I know. That Sushruta was a magician!"
Ah, the plot freakens, I thought to myself.
"So your whole plan to initiate a nuclear war is so that kaliyug will end?"
"Precisely. But these other Chiranjeevis screw it all up. They still want to keep living, and keep nailing chicks. Vyasa made the Japanese surrender, just as I had Harry convinced to fire six more nukes. I worked Fidel and Ernesto so hard, but Parshuram went and told Kennedy how to diffuse the Missile Crisis. Then Bali came to me and said he was sick of living too. He had this plan. We'd convince Reagan to step up the arms race, USSR would collapse, and pretty soon nukes would be sold over the counter by the broken Soviet states."
"Bali is on your side?"
"Yes. The guy makes sense you know. For years I was trying quick-fix solutions. They never work. What we need is a 50-year long plan. A protracted strategy that will ensure a nuclear war."
Right then I saw my train in the distance. I got up.
"Hey, my train is here. I gotta go."
"Oh, ok. It was nice talking to you."
"Nice talking to you too, Ash. Good luck with your nuclear war."
"Thanks. Good luck with your suicide. I envy you."