Dedicated: To my favourite Sooper-Hero!
It has been about 3 weeks since I first got the urge to do this post. I’ve always wondered what this guy is beneath all that trippiness. Secretly, I still wish that some day he would seel the rights to doing a biography about him to me. But all that apart, I wanted to write something for him and thought it might be special to do so on his birthday. But as luck has it with me always, I keep procastinating and finally when I make up my mind to do it, my compute dies.
So I met him a few hours ago and thoughts about him are still stuck in my head. This is one guy who can talk with you for a 5 minutes and keep you thinking about the tiny convo you had 5 days later. Ans just as I was walking back home, I was thinking about this long pending post and I knew I couldn’t resist the urge to write about him anymore. So I walk all the way back to the net centre and here I am, typing whatever comes from the top of my head.
After slogging off in NCC during my first year and nearly killing myself in the hospital, I was sitting in the auditorium a year ago, during the department association day, as clueless as the first years about what was happening. There is this guy on stage, conducting some competition, desparately trying to make a spellbee contest look interesting and draw the crowd’s attention. Something about his name kept ringing a bell in the head and I just couldn’t place it. I come back home and like every other time, log in straightaway to facebook. There’s a friend request from a school friend with whom I had lost contact a good 4 years ago; maybe more. In her list, I see this Berty guy and then, it all clicked. Vikaasa was the link!
Though I initially related him to one of my seniors and Madurai Vikaasa, I later slowly recollected how everybody from my school used to talk about him whenever they were wondering whom to approach for clarifications or help for issues ranging from events to food during Youth Festival. I used to wonder who this guy was and I also remember sprinting into a Berty-hunt on the last day of the Youth Festival in the last year I ever attended it. No, I didn’t see him.
A few days later, I get to talk with Elton, a school friend who had studied at Loyola and I tell him how this Berty was a judge at some event at college and he says, ‘Tell me about it!’ and narrates his experience of bumping into this guy at his college during a department association as well. A month later, I go to Stella Marris for Creative Writing and I hear the familiar voice, announcing that anyone who solves his crossword would get his entire Tintin collection. I run and click a picture of him and my friend uploads it. I tag him and he says, ‘Heyyyy! Why didn’t you just come and say hello?’ Mind voice: HUH? Yeah, right. Big personality this fellow. I will go say hello, it seems. And only he could’ve come up with a reply like this: ‘blah! chee go ya.. what nonsense.. please do not even hesitate to yell 'Oye berty wassup!!' from anywhere anytime :) and i how can i forget poet/blogger/college mag editor/ now photographer you?’
So that was how it started, more or less. Fun(da) should be his middle name. No one, absolutely no one can ever match his energy levels or hogging skills. 10 Chilly Cheese Toasts at a time, or was that record further high up? Whichever, you’re no match for Berty there. He is so effortlessly funny and even when he is narrating a tale of how the girl he liked later says that he is her best friend because he helped her find the love of her life in someone else, you can’t but help laugh till your stomach pains. And no one but Berty can come up with experiences of driving all the way from Madurai to Kodaikanal on a bike during a tea-break at college to have a 7 rupees ‘eruma paal tea’ [tea made from buffallo’s milk]. Seriously, eruma paal tea. Who else can look cool saying that?
Just about the time when I was having ‘Batman’ in my syllabus at college and when I started adoring the character for all that he is, I get to see that I am dealing with Batman himself. Bertman, the Batman, yeah. Of how he was the first person who came to my mind when I thought of asking for help to pick up a tagline for elections at college and the speech consequently, I have no idea. But there was something strong that bound me to him and the respect that grew further, looking at this guy and how he carried himself with all the weight that hangs around him. and how it would always remain special, the way he called up right after I finished my speech and how he called after my results and how it felt very fatherly, very comforting when he spoke whatever he spoke then.
At school, he was this big man who had the answers and solution to everything, the guy who everybody used to talk about. And suddenly, at Chennai, he is the judge I see everywhere, drummer, jammer, quiz master, first-name-google-able, co-founder of ASAP productions at the awe just grows everyday and the jaw just drops further down. And I know, someday, when I am teaching science to my kid, I’d be teaching about ‘The Berty Cycle’ and I would be fondly recollecting how I used to know this guy even before he became that famous and I am also pretty sure that it would have something to do with food. Also, his caller tune would go ‘Don’t worry, be happy!’
Berty Ashley. So I’ve been in this internet café for over and hour and I am still typing. It’s time for me to go home. The word count says it is a little over than one thousand. I still feel there is so much left to say. There’s a picture of batman in my mind, Berty. And though I am not able to put it down in words here right now, it’s pretty much close to the picture of you in my head.
Not like I have to say this, but be you. Be Berty. Keep doing everything you do. Even when you are are a million miles away, whatever you say or do keep spreading smiles to people like me out here. It’s hard to see you low. More than that, it is weird. Bertiness in you goes down then, you know. And I am just out of words, my head is blank and there I stand, clueless as to what to say to make you feel better, if at all, but still desparately hoping something magical would happen to get to back to being you. Write more often, Berty. No reasons. Just write.
Also, nothing can equal a big bear hug from you. Special you will always be. When you decide to let someone write a biography about you, let me be your first option, please? My co-authour says: Try bathing more often. :)
< Happy Belated Birthday, Dark Knight!
We love you like crazy!
Co-authoured by: Srunika Kannan.
~ Just Someone.
[Photography Courtesy: Nrithya Randhir]