Here’s an excerpt from a short story I wrote.

It’s about my teen years. Years of innocence spent playing basketball terribly yet having the best time in the process.


Sex with the Apostles

Long after he sailed to Indonesia or Borneo, none of us could remember how Sex got his name. Maybe because he’s the only person I knew who used that word as an adjective. Maybe it was because he shouted “Sex!” whenever someone made a basket on the court at St. Peter’s. Or maybe it was the only way to describe that period when Sex graced Bandra’s, and probably Bombay’s worst basketball team, the St. Jude’s Flying Apostles.
    His real name was Dylan, but no one called him that.
    His mother called him “Loafer!”
    Fr. Ambrosius called him “Swine!”
    His brother Hyacinth called him “Duffer, butcher, sailor”, although he was a sailor himself.
    It probably came from the time he got into trouble with Hyacinth. “Dylan you duffer, you know Diamanta came home crying because you ditched her?”
“You asked me to take her out, bugger.”

    In a bid to butter up his merchant navy ship captain, Hyacinth had set up a date between Sex and the captain’s daughter Diamanta. Instead of taking her somewhere nice, like Bandra Gymkhana for chutney sandwiches, Sex had taken her for a rickshaw ride about the neighborhood. After cruising through all of Bandra, he stopped the rickshaw outside his lane, told Diamanta to wait, jumped a couple of bungalow walls and went home. Diamanta had to pay the rickshaw fare in change.
    “You do that one more time and you know where you’re going, no?” Hyacinth said to Sex later.
    “If you have guts then send no, bastard!”

    “Please Neil, tell him something no?” his mother said to me the next day when she came home for my mother’s coconut cake.     “Hyacinth’s saying he’ll send him to the ship.”
    Sex’s father left his family and moved to Goa when Sex was in the seventh standard. His brother, who would send half his merchant navy salary home, became the head of the household. But Dylan ignored Hyacinth and pretty much did what he wanted. Maybe that’s why his mother thought that at least I, as his best friend, would have some influence over him.
       “Philomena says that Hyacinth wants to send him to cadet training in Singapore, and after that he’ll be sailing on this ocean and that for a year,” said my mother to me.
      “Wow”, I said. “Singapore!”
     “What wow, idiot?” said my mother.
     “My poor boy will be putting his life at risk at god knows what ocean!”
      “Just please tell him to do something- anything so Hyacinth thinks he’s behaving”, said my mother.

      Beside our old school’s church, there was a tarred basketball court. It was part of the St. Jude’s Youth Centre, where a small group of ex-students played every evening. I used to go there once in a while to meet my old friends now that we’d graduated. I thought playing basketball with the boys might get Sex in line so I asked him over. He accepted my offer, and showed up the next day in yellow shorts and a headband that made everyone laugh.
      “Neil, we’ve got a real tournament coming up. You know or no?” said Richie, the de facto leader of the group. “We can’t let you raw mangoes play.”
     “I’ll learn, bugger!” protested Sex.
     “Dylan, just because you’re thin and tall, doesn’t mean you’re not fuck-all”, said Alston. “Now get on the bench, ya fuckers!” he said and rejoined the game. 
        When it got dark and became clear we’d have to sit the game out, Sex got annoyed. He started heckling anyone who missed a basket and singing, to the tune of Auld Lang Syne:

“He fucked it up,
He fucked it up,
He fucked it up
All balls he was,
All balls he was,
All balls he was

     “Ok, bugger”, said Richie, throwing the ball at him. “Make one bloody free throw and show.” Sex immediately started stretching.
     “Ho ho. Bugger hasn’t even touched a basketball and he’s stretching like Pippen.” said Naschon.
      Sex grunted. He crouched like a duck, bounced the ball between his skinny legs and threw with all his force.  The ball cracked a plank, ricocheted over the blackboard and rolled into the Youth Centre office.
     “Who’s that swine?!” shouted Fr. Ambrosius from inside.
      We were all fans of the Chicago Bulls back then. They had just won their fifth NBA championship, after Michael Jordan returned from retirement. The Bulls had Jordan, Pippen, Grant, Rodman and Kerr. We had Richie, Vaes, Naschon, Adi and Sheldon, who could dunk. The Bulls had the National Basketball Association, we had the 16th Annual Chacha Nehru Memorial Colaba YMCA Open Basketball Tourney for Boys.
     When it came time to fill in the team name on the tournament form, the choice was obvious.
     “Why not the Chicago Bulls?” suggested Sex.
      “This looks like Chicago to you?” asked Richie.
     “St. Jude’s Bulls, then”, said Sex.
     “The team should be called St. Jude’s Flying Apostles”, shouted Fr. Ambrosius, who stood at the edge of the court.
     “We’re Apostles or what?” said Clayton.
     “We are all apostles of the holy word of God. And besides, it’ll be easy for me to get funding from the parish”, said Fr. Ambrosius, who after all was in charge of the Youth Centre’s funds. 

Cargo Collective 2017 — Frogtown, Los Angeles