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Chamatkari Chandu
by Ramendra Kumar

Somu was working on his project on the computer when the screen suddenly went blank. A couple of seconds later a figure appeared. It was that of a red, young man. He was completely bald and his head looked like a boiled egg smeared with thick tomato ketchup. Puzzled Somu kept staring at the screen. ‘Where has this funny screen saver come from?’ he wondered.

“Don’t keep staring as if I am some kind of a caterpillar you found in your favorite chicken pizza,” he heard a voice. Somu almost fell off the chair in sheer fright and looked around.

“Why are you looking around a like a startled piglet? I am right here in front of you on your computer screen?”

Somu adjusted his glasses and stared at the screen. Boiled egg gave a deliberate wink and grinned from ear to ear.

“Wh…who are you?” whispered Somu.

“I am Cee Gee?”

“Cee Gee? What’s that?”

“Computer Ghost, silly? Many computers have ghosts and I am your Cee
Gee?”

“But I have never heard of them before?”

‘Somu, you are only eleven. There are many things you haven’t heard? For instance, even though you are so much fond of food, have you heard
of the biggest lollipop?”

Somu shook his head wondering whether all this was a dream.

“The biggest ever lollipop weighed 1370 kg. The largest pizza was a record 122 feet and 8 inches in size. And it took 1,60,00 eggs to make the world’s biggest omelet!” Cee Gee said smacking his lips.

“Wow, you seem to know quite a few facts, Cee Gee?”

“Of course I do. And you can call me Chamatkari Chandu or Chandu.”

“How come I haven’t seen you before?”

“Well, you know I am responsible for the well-being of many computers around the world. I have been touring cyberspace for more than a year now. I visited your computer on a few occasions but I thought the time wasn’t right for me to reveal myself to you. But then today I decided I should thank you in person.”

“Thank me?”

“Yes. You remember a few months back your computer was infected by a deadly virus?”

“Yes, of course – the Ulta-Pulta virus. Whenever I typed a word, it would automatically get converted to its opposite meaning.”

“Exactly. Well, this virus was actually my cousin Nasty Nandu.

“Your cousin?”

“Just as in the olden days you had Pandavas and Kauravas, our clan today is divided into two – we the Cee Gees and our cousins the Viruses. While the Viruses are hell bent on destroying the computers, Cee Gees try to help the humans in protecting their systems.”

“Your cousin was a horrible fellow. It took me three days to get rid of him. But why are you thanking me? I was only saving my system.”

“Somu, in that process you saved my life. Nasty Nandu had trapped me and had you not taken care of him I would have had to spend the rest of my life as a stupid icon on your desktop with no freedom to move around. Thanks once again.”

Somu smiled and bowed his head.

“Now tell me why are you looking so sad?”

Somu hesitated and then said, “It’s my class mate Pradeep. He has made my life miserable.”

“How?”

“You know I am very fat, my neck is almost non-existent and at the last count I had three chins. Pradeep keeps making fun of me. He says SOMU is an anagram of SUMO and keeps calling me a Sumo wrestler. Two days back we had elections in our class for the post of the class representative. I decided to contest. My opponent was Pradeep’s best friend Suresh. On the day of the election posters came up in the canteen depicting me as a Sumo wrestler grappling with the strong and sturdy Suresh. Pradeep, who is the best painter, in our class had done the posters. Naturally I became a laughing stock and lost the election very badly. I got just one vote – mine!”

“But Somu, you must also be the computer wizard of the class. I  haven’t seen any eleven-year old handle computers the way you do. You are fantastic!”

“Thanks! I know I am good. And so does the class. But because of my bulk and Pradeep’s ragging everything else is forgotten.”

“Why don’t you try to slim down?”

“You think I haven’t tried. However, everytime, after a promising start, I am back to square one – hogging more than ever. A few moments back when you were talking about pizzas, lollipops and omelets I wanted to attack the fridge. If you had paid attention you would have heard my stomach rumbling. And this in spite of the fact that I have already had one post-breakfast snack and another pre-lunch one.”

“Well, the problem is quite acute. By the way, what is the ideal weight for your height?”

“I can’t say that but my Papa says for my weight my ideal height would be seven feet,” Somu wryly replied.

Chandu started to chuckle but checked himself in mid-chuckle and acted
as if something had got stuck in his throat.

“Okay, now close your eyes and when I say yes open them,” Chandu said.

A few minutes later when Somu opened his eyes he saw two sketches. One was of an immensely fat young man, whose features were barely visible in oodles of flesh and the other was of a slim and wiry young man who looked quite handsome.

“Who are these two guys?”

“These are my projections of you dear Somu. If you continue the way you are, then after seven years, you will look like this fat porpoise. However, if you decide to fight and win the battle of the bulge, and I am sure with determination you will, then you’ll look great and feel great.”

“But how do I do all this?”

“First and foremost stop eating junk food. All these hamburgers, French fries, pizzas and cold drinks are okay once in a while. But you can’t live on them like you are doing now. Secondly go in for some regular exercise. Right now the only muscles you seem to exercising are those of your jaws to chew food," Chandu said smiling.

Looking at Somu he continued, “Take a print out of these two sketches and stick them on your refrigerator door. Every time you open it you can choose your future.”

“I shall try,” Somu said.

“No question of try, Somu you have to do it. Now I am off on an urgent assignment but I’ll keep sending you inspirational messages. I’ll meet you in a year’s time. I am sure, by then, staring at me from the other end of the computer screen will be the new look Somu.

~*~

Pradeep’s father Vishaal Khanna was sitting in his office when he got a call from the Principal, Mr. B.N. Sharma requesting him to come to the school. When he reached the Principal’s office Mr. Sharma was there along with three other teachers. He looked quite grave.

“It was nice of you to come at such a short notice Mr. Khanna. Let me read out an email, which I received yesterday. Its copies have gone to all my colleagues.”

Mr. Sharma started reading out:

“The Princy is very pompous
And one of the biggest bores
His wife has left him
Because he always snores.

He wears purple pyjamas
Every time he sleeps
When he ‘crawls’ in the halls
He gives us the creeps.

We feel he should quit
And become a circus clown
And in his purple pyjamas
Entertain the entire town!”

Mr. Sharma stopped reading and looked at Vishaal, “This is one sample.  Here is another :

“Our history maam thinks
She has the best brains.
We think whatever she had
Were washed away in the first rains.

Another secret let me share
Though her head is swollen and big
It is as bare as a boiled egg
And so she has to wear a wig!

What she does with her make-up
Will remain forever a mystery
The more she tries to look younger
She ends up looking like history.”

Vishaal couldn’t help glancing at Mrs. Pinky Chadda and her ‘lustrous’ hair or rather wig. Mrs. Chadda was sniffing into her hanky and trying to look as dignified as possible.

“But sir, why are you reading out all this to me,” Vishaal asked.

“Because these emails have been sent by your son Pradeep. We gave the ID to our computer wizard Somu. At first he tried to shield his classmate but after I threatened him Somu revealed the identity of the sender,” Mr. Sharma replied handing over the print out to Vishaal.

Vishaal looked at the paper – the email ID was clearly Pradeep’s.

‘B…but Sir someone else might have sent it,” Vishaal said.

“We’ll know soon enough,” Robert Sir, the Computer teacher said. “Please tell me Pradeep’s user name and password and we’ll have a look at his email account and confirm.”

Vishaal knew Pradeep’s user name and password and gave it. Robert went to the computer on the Principal’s desk and within a few minutes had opened Pradeep’s email account. Sure enough, in the sent box, the messages were there.

“But Sir, if Pradeep had actually done this he wouldn’t have been foolish enough to use his own email ID.”

“I am sure Pradeep was confident he wouldn’t be caught.”

Vishaal kept silent.

“Now, Mr. Khanna, since this is the first time Pradeep has indulged in something like this, I am willing to take a lenient view. If he repeats this conduct I’ll be forced to take drastic action,” Mr. Sharma said.

~*~

A few days later, Pradeep was playing a computer game when the screen went blank and a funny figure appeared on the screen. As he stared goggle eyed the figure spoke to him, “Pradeep, I know you have been punished for a crime you didn’t commit. I am Cee Gee, a computer ghost and the emails were sent by me.”

“What! You rascal?”

“Shut up. If you utter even a single word I’ll create greater havoc.”

“But why are you doing this to me? What have I done to you?”

“You have tortured my friend Somu.”

“Oh! I should have guessed. So it is fatso who is behind all this.”

“Don’t call him fatso. He knows nothing about all this. In fact you should be thankful to him, he tried his best to protect you. And I am warning you; if you ever act smart with him again you’ll regret it. Is it clear?”

Pradeep nodded.

“And Pradeep try to make friends with Somu. He is a guy who is loyal and trustworthy. Besides, he is a computer wizard and you are terrific at art; together you can create magic,” Chamatkari Chandu said and vanished.

~*~

A year later an inter-school cultural festival was organized by a leading youth organization of the city. As a part of the festival a design competition was conducted. Somu and Pradeep’s design - a beautiful collage of art and graphics - won the first prize.

That evening as Pradeep and Somu were trying out some computer graphics the screen went blank. The familiar figure of Chamatkari Chandu appeared. He seemed to have put on quite a bit of weight and looked like a red version of the Laughing Buddha.

“Chandu,” the two friends yelled jumping up.

“Hey, Somu you are looking quite trim.”

“And you are looking absolutely prosperous!”

“I know. You remember, I was sending you those inspirational notes on how many calories each of the culinary delights, which you were addicted to, contained.”

“Of course, those ‘gems’ would invariably appear just when I was about to dig my teeth into something yummy and put me off,” Somu said.

“Well, that was what they were supposed to do. Anyway, I had to do lot of research to collect the facts which made up those ‘gems’. I visited many of the sites on the internet which dealt with different kinds of cuisines – each more delicious than the other. I ended up sapling a few dishes and got hooked. And the result you can see,” Chandu said ruefully.

Somu and Pradeep looked at each other, struggling to keep their smiles in check.

“By the way Somu, how many Kgs did you lose?” Chandu asked.

“Twenty two?”

“That’s strange. I have gained exactly twenty two!” Chandu exclaimed and all three of them burst out laughing.

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

9-May-2010
 
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