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My Lost Friend Sastryji (standard:other, 1126 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 12 2010Views/Reads: 1772/1088Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A sad story about a lost friend

My Lost Friend Sastryji 

Subba Rao 

Mr. Sastry's full name was so long, it was abbreviated to M.V.S.S.R.
Sastry. Each initial letter represented the name of a major Hindu God, 
as if his parents were in some bind to name their son after them. 
Juggernaut met Mr. Sastry on the university campus when he was a 
graduate student. 

During their first meeting, Mr. Sastry was very cordial. “You are from
south India, right?” he inquired. He addressed Juggernaut with prefix 
Mr. and Juggernaut addressed him “Sastryji”, the suffix “ji,” a 
courtesy since he was older person, and also he was a staff member in 
the department of physics. 

Sastryji was in late 40's, a chain smoker and chewed betel nuts all the
time - the two fingers of his right hand were turned brown from holding 
cigarettes constantly. His teeth were turned brown from smoking 
cigarettes and chewing betel nuts. He said he got a steady supply of 
betel nuts in a store owned by an Indian merchant. 

Sastriji came to Trinidad some years ago to pursue graduate studies to
obtain a Ph.D. Not too far from the university campus, Sastryji and 
Juggernaut shared a two-bed room apartment. Sastryji employed a maid, a 
middle-aged East Indian woman for cooking and other chores. She cooked 
vegetarian meals since Mr. Sastry was a strict vegetarian, being a 
South Indian Brahmin. The daily diet consist of boiled split peas 
slurry called dahl, a dish eaten in every East Indian household in 
Trinidad (as well as in India), vegetable curry, steamed rice with 
little bit of ghee. For the first few months, Juggernaut enjoyed the 
Brahmin meals he missed after he left home. But then, he got tired of 
eating this meal every day. 

“I miss curry chicken and goat meat,” said Juggernaut one day. 

“I didn't expect you eat meat but it won't bother me,” Sastryji looked
surprised but then he was a very generous man, but he insisted that 
Juggernaut should use separate utensils. 

Sastryji spent a lot of time socializing with expatriate Indian doctors
who flooded Trinidad in the early seventies. Dr. Mohan one of the 
Indian doctors living in Trinidad visited us almost every evening 
though he lived miles away working in a major City Hospital. Dr. 
Mohan's intention was to immigrate to the United States but he had to 
pass a tough qualifying test administered to screen the quality of 
doctors entering the United States. After failing a few times, he gave 
up and focussed on dating Trinidad women. He never had any trouble 
getting women. Because he was a doctor, the Indian women clamored for 

Puja is a Hindu religious ritual. Pundit Jairam, an East Indian Pundit
(Brahmin), also a part-time cab driver, facilitated the puja for 
Sastryji. Sastryji presented handsome dakshen, a monetary gift and new 
clothes at the end of puja to the Pundit. A few days before the planned 
ritual, Juggernaut cleaned up the fridge free of any meat, frozen or 
cooked, as symbol of obedience to old beliefs and to comply with 
Sastryji's strict rules. 

Sastryji and Juggernaut shopped at a store owned by Bhajanlal, an Indian
merchant in Tunapuna area. Here, Sastryji got his supply of betel nuts, 
spices, and Indian food items. The store, stocked with stuff dumped on 
the floor, sold everything from underwear to cookware, mostly imported 
from India. Bhajanlal spoke English in Trinidad style; his sentence 
started with ‘Boy' and ended with ‘naah.' The word ‘Boy' did not 
necessarily mean a young person or child and the word ‘naah' was not 
negative. For example, he would say, “Boy, get these folks something to 
eat naah.” Every time Sastryji went to the store, Juggernaut 
accompanied him. Sastryji visited Bhajanlal's wife, a sick, bed-ridden 
woman living upstairs in the store. Sastryji made conversations with 
her in Hindi, a North Indian language. Bajanlal never trusted East 
Indians in Trinidad, his connection with them was strictly business. On 
every visit, Bhajanlal treated Sastryji with respect knowing that he is 
a Brahmin. 

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