RUBY IYER IS just another scared, screwed-up teenager growing up in Bombay, until the despotic Dr Kamini Braganza kidnaps her best friend. Now, Ruby will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the reticent Vikram Roy, a cop on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza’s teen army. As Bombay falls apart around them, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram.
Ruby wrote almost daily in her diary from the age of ten, till she left home at sixteen-and-a-half. It is from here I picked scenes from her early life. They have been chosen in chronological sequence but are in no specific order of importance.
I have always been addicted … to adrenaline.
It’s right in the middle of my summer holidays. The sun ripples through the fronds of the coconut tree. Placing my hands on the low wall, which separates my apartment block from the one next door, I heave one leg onto the top; the other still dangling down. Balancing the full weight of my body on my arms, skinny biceps vibrating with tension I pull up my other leg, scraping it against the rough edges of the wall in the process. Heedless of the thin stream of blood trickling down my knee, I survey the scene from my now-superior height of four feet nine inches, plus another five feet added by the wall. I look down at the scattered boys and girl assembled below.
“Dare you,” pouts Sid.
“Ha!” I snigger back. I am taller than him—for now—and am going to prove just how much braver too. I stick out my tongue; and am instantly rewarded by him rolling both eyes towards his nose and sticking his tongue right back at me.
Yah! Whatever. I’ll show you now!
As light as a ballerina, I walk across the narrow surface of the wall towards the adjoining coconut palm. One of its long fan-like leaves hangs suspended. I tug on it, to make sure it’s firmly attached to the tree trunk. Then, holding onto it, I raise myself to the tips of my feet.
Angling my head up towards the sky, I let the sunrays warm my face and neck, enjoying the little rise in my pulse. Then, as my heartbeat speeds up to tango with the blood now pumping through my veins, I jump.
“Kreegah Tarzan Bundolo,” I scream at the top of my voice, sailing through the air, over the heads of my friends. I look down at Sid as I cut through the air near his nose. He raises his hand pointing towards something behind me.
Yah! Right, no way am I falling for that trick now.
The ground rushes up to meet me. I head straight for the pebbled mud just past where the group is standing, and hit the ground with such force that my nose slams into the dirt. Something hits me on the back of my head.
Sid! How dare he?
I shimmy up to my feet, my hands still grasping the palm frond, to find the kids laughing at me. One of the boys is literally rolling on the ground holding his side. The large leaf has come loose in my hand; it now drags behind me as if a large cape.
“Ha! If you are so strong, why don’t you wear your underwear over your pants like
Superman?” The boy bursts out between his guffaws.
“She can’t because she is a girl,” replies another. The look on his face suggesting he smells something horrid in the air.
“But you are a girl. So, how can you be Tarzan? You should be Jane,” bursts out the only other girl in the group.
I walk up to her, more distraught than I care to admit. I don’t know why, but it seems terribly important to clarify, “I am Tarzan.”
“No, you are not!” The girl pushes her face right back at me, so we are nose to nose.
Losing patience, I lift my hand and slap her. Thwack!
To see her features crumple, you would have thought I had socked her hard. For all that, its just a measly little slap. She bursts into tears. Can you believe that?
Sid goes up and comforts her.
“You really shouldn’t have Ruby.” He looks at me sadly. As they walk away, Sid still holding her—as if she is going to die any moment—the girl looks back at me and sticks out her tongue. Then, turning around she places her head on Sid’s shoulder and continues her incessant crying. She holds her hand to her cheek for good measure.
So much for female solidarity.
I learn that lesson quite early in life.
From the author-
If Ruby intrigues you then please do mention her to your friends 🙂