This is me sitting next to my friend Abbas and telling a story.

The location is our park where we meet every evening when it is not raining. The story was an explanation to an earlier pithy reply to a question from a young man. He had been seeing the two of us together at the park every evening, and gathered enough courage to ask me if we were brothers. I had answered “yes and no.” He went away and returned after a while to ask what I meant by that pithy remark. So, I told him the story.

Yes, we are brothers. But, we were separated from our natural parents when we were small boys in an earthquake. We were brought up by separate surrogate parents, I as a Hindu and Abbas as a Muslim, Therefore, now we are not brothers but friends.

The background. Indian cinema has many such stories and inevitably, one of the separated brothers will become a police officer and the other a gangster or a criminal and eventually both will discover that they are brothers and the criminal will surrender to the police officer and undergo imprisonment. When he is released, he will be received by the entire family accompanied by his sweetheart who had been patiently waiting all the while for the criminal to serve his term. All is well that ends well. That melodrama inspired my flippant reply to the young man, who must have been thinking that in real life too, reel life comes true.

Poor Abbas. He is stuck with me. He is a gentle soul incapable of swatting a fly. He keeps landing up in all kinds of embarrassing situations because he looks like me, or I like him.
For instance, one day he was parking his car in a parking lot when the attendant came and asked him why he has changed his car from the old flamboyant sports car. Abbas had to convince him that he was the wrong guy though he knew the culprit with the flamboyant sports car.

On another occasion, two ladies accosted Abbas on the main shopping street and asked him where he had been hiding for such a long time. By the time he could answer, his lovely wife Huseina landed up and was quite upset with the scene. Abbas claimed that he never had anything to do with the ladies, and they by that time had realized that they had the wrong man and explained that he resembled a friend of theirs called Ramana. You can imagine the relief that Abbas felt. I had an earful from Huseina in the evening.

Now, the big question, who is the criminal and who is the police officer in this very unlikely story?

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