Sudheer the lafunga…

…is up there along with kalidasa’s Nala & Damayanti as a great Indian fictional character. That he appears sporadically in books written by an Anglo-Indian about life in India’s hills just after the British raj, does not make it any less so.

Sudheer the lafunga hangs about the market in a little hill town in India and seems to have a ball. A small-time swindler and a man of rakish charms, his greatest strength lies in his ability to invoke jealous passions in two of the town’s well known prostitutes. Who then ply him with money, so that he does not defect to the other. As you can see, it is a bit of a win-win for the lafunga.

In addition to the obvious charm of such a character, I am also captivated by the spelling of ‘lafunga’. In more modern times, where the presence of the British is just a faint whiff in the air inside old colonial buildings, we would have referred to ol’ Sudheer as the ‘Lafanga’. And in that one little alphabet passed a whole way of life.

I quite like the lafunga – with a U.


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