grew up an orphan in the slums of Mumbai raised by a prostitute with a heart of gold. Hername was Khat and her most frequent customer was an American ex-
pat named “Whoover”
with a nasty and prodigious heroin habit and the mien of a toad. In his opiate-induced haze,he would scream obscenities and ramble incoherently, constantly wailing mournfully, uttering two
mysterious words, “The Blue!” Or he would tear off all his clothes and gnash his teeth, muttering, "Hawk" or “Pete.” Due to the diligent English
tutoring of my protector, I was reasonably capable of understanding Wh
oover’s words, but not their meaning. Khat reassured me, “Don’t worry, it’s justsmack talk.”
We came to understand that back in the U.S., Whoover had tried his hand at embezzling butgot caught with a cabal of three or four other crooks. He escaped the U.S. with his state-fundedretirement cash and somehow ended up in the exotic Sub Continent. I think it might have been theeasy access to all the heroin. Nevertheless, Khat turned out to not only be more literate than her
constant customer, but also a better thief as she would slip cash out of Whoover’s trousers each
meeting besides overcharging him for his 30-second session. After time, she had saved plenty enough to send me to the states for a proper university education. I was very thankful and eager toescape the slum, but Whoover said that if I were to go to the U.S. to school, I must attend a school
in a place he called “Moscow” in a distant state of “Idaho.” He assured me that I would feel right at
home there with the open sewers and even tantalized my teenaged imagination with tales of students
“flying” from upper story windows.
Intrigued I was,
but I simply could not shake Whoover’s constant incantation of “The Blue.”
What did it mean?