All Dealers Great And Small


All Dealers Great And Small

Illustration: Akshita Monga


hah Rukh came into my life as a hero. Saving me from the drudgery that was college life, he swooped in, part don, part star, to deliver my first bag of weed. He was the first dealer I met in Mumbai and it seemed only fitting that he was called Shah Rukh. With his wavy hair and movie-star flair, he juggled life between cleaning a basketball ground and various filmy gigs involving holding lights or bringing chai on set.

SR was gregarious, even when we called him requesting a paltry 50-rupee bag of weed. He was a regular at our smoking circle, although he insisted on hanging outside the window, and joined our repeat screenings of Requiem for a Dream. And, like a gentle fairy godfather, who knew he was plying us with illegal pumpkins, he oversaw our consumption carefully. When my dentist roommate overdid the green and decided on a whim to take a semester off from his studies, Shah Rukh grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and took him for a walk. He made no bones about the fact that dentist boy would never get a single bud again. “I’ll get it for you guys, but if I find out that you gave a drag to him, you’re fucked,” he told us menacingly.