mayday! brain overboard.

the title explains it all :-)


Gallo-Ballo, I yell, waving goodbye. My friends look at each other, perplexed. I smile at their ignorance. Doesn’t anyone know that Gallo-ballo is the cry of the native tree dwelling Tangawan tribe in the jungles of Ethiopia? Truly, the complete imbecility of the proletariat never fails to get to me. Gallo-ballo. How can they not know it?

My fascination with goodbyes arose a year ago. People used to ask me why I wrote such short mails. The fact was I had to spare time so that I could choose an appropriate way to end the mail. I would write three lines in five seconds and then stare at the screen for hours, searching for an alternative to ‘take care’. I had already gone through all its mutations ‘Take care of yourself” “You take care now” “You take good care of yourself, y’hear?” My friends began to take such good care of themselves that I felt positively uncared for in comparison. My girlfriend took very good care of herself by finding herself another boyfriend. No more take care, I decided.

But the non-concern filled goodbyes were also exhausted. I had used Ciao. (I never say chow. Chow is food, synonymous with grub, bite, khana-peena.. only uneducated Neanderthals write chow. The word is CIAO)., arriverderchi, au revoir, sayonara so much that I was receiving requests for royalties from these foreign governments. I used ‘Regards’ a few times. I started saying ‘with respects’. My friends said I was being formal. I tried putting ‘warm’ before regards and respects. They told me to go drown myself. I almost did, such despair I was plunged into.

I started using ‘Love’. I’m a Piscean. The word love is sacred to me. I use it very sparingly. Most people have never heard the word ensue from my lips. Seeing it glaring from the screen, incontrovertible and irrevocable, imbalanced them a little. Some people fainted at their computers. Other ran panic stricken to the cops and asked for security cover. Some people fell on their knees and prayed for immediate moksha from life and death. Some called up. ”Uh, Suraj. You know, you’re a good friend and all that… I mean good in a relative way… but…. uh ,.. you know.. I don’t have such feelings for you, and I am sure, speaking hypothetically of course.. that I never will. I hope you understand.” After three of these calls, I got tired of explaining myself. I just sighed and said “Too bad. We would’ve been great together.” I think the guys who called up had a worse time of it than the gals. It was all very painful.

I was at my wits end, and then it came to me, in a flash of divine and inexpressible light. The words appeared in flaming letters. I was transfixed. Four syllables, rhyming at that. So short, so sweet, so fully packed with meaning. GALLO. BALLO. Hallelujah! I was reborn.

Gallo-ballo says it all. It means fare thee well, it means come back soon, it means I will miss you, it means When will you be back? It means I’ll see you guys tomorrow, it means “drop dead” . As a greeting it can mean “there you are” “I’m so glad you’re here” “you’ve got something hanging out of your nose but I won’t tell you” “I saw you making out with someone else and now I’m going to nail something very precious to you to the ceiling”. It’s all in the way you say it. Did I mention that Gallo-ballo is the greeting cry of the desert dwelling Davarim tribe of East Sudan?

I also love it when people pretend that they aren’t perplexed by Gallo-Ballo. I’ve sent Suman Datta two emails ending with it. I’ve received no comment. I sometimes fantasize that Suman is searching feverishly, frenziedly for its meaning. Suman has ripped apart the Oxford, Webster and Cambridge dictionaries and is now learning old and dead languages, all to find out the meaning of Gallo Ballo. Suman has called up all the language bureau from here to west Sudan; piteously pleading for someone to please, please explain what Gallo-Ballo means. Suman will finally give up and come to me for the meaning. Should I let on that Gallo Ballo is the universal cry of the stone-hut dwelling Dongribaja tribe of Central Nicaragua? Maybe if Suman asks nicely.

(Anyone wondering why I refuse to use a pronoun while referring to Suman, have patience. I shall explain all in good time.)

I dream of a time on earth when peace will reign, when all humanity (especially female humanity) will open their arms wide to me and hail me as the harbinger of harmony. Gallo-Ballo, they will shout, bear hugging me. Gallo-Balloooooo, the chorus will intone in tones expressing unspeakable joy. A universal cry of brotherhood and togetherness will waft through the air. At this point, I will humbly refuse to take the credit. No, I will say, You must not worship me, It was not I who created Gallo-Ballo. I was only an instrument in the hands of the divine. Gallo-Ballo was always there, waiting to be discovered.

Gallo-Ballo, I will say, was actually the ancient, divine cry of the long-forgotten cave-dwelling, nature-worshipping Conjave tribe of what is now Northern Tanganyika.

-Suraj Kamath

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