Being clearly more intelligent than most of his peers, Hamdan suffers from two conditions that are common to people who belong in his IQ band. First, he is either admired – or he is despised. There is seldom any middle ground. Secondly, his life – if you can call it that – reads like a never ending catalogue of tragic misadventures.
What do I think of Hamdan? Personally, I like being around the man. Maybe it’s because he is so witty. Or maybe it’s because he is such a ready source of remarkable information. But more likely than not, the reason I so enjoy his company so much is perhaps because his less than auspicious life makes me feel as if I am one of the most fortunate people on earth.
Last week, a bunch of us were having a few beers together at our regular watering hole. I recall – after several requests from a few of us – Hamdan hesitantly agreed and tried to explain to us his take on quantum mechanics. Like all truly intelligent men, he had the amazing ability to take on any complicated subject, reduce it to its very basic and explain it to the uninitiated (like us) in a way we can easily understand. I have always envied Hamdan this gift. But alas, on the IQ front, I am no where near to being in the same zip code as the man.
Our thirst for the intellectual stuff satisfied, the conversation moved to more Neanderthal topics like the significance of a female’s breast size and the merits of various coital positions. It then went into to area of trivia. Once again, our jaws dropped when Hamdan seemed to be able to give not only the exact dates of several significant events in modern history but was also able to recall where he was and what he was doing when he heard (or read) about the events.
For example, he was a five year old boy, having dinner at his grand father’s house in Taiping when one of his uncles tried to explain to him what was on TV: JFK had declared a blockade on Cuba, thus marking the beginning of the Cuban Crisis. It was also hilarious finding out that when the news that John Lennon had been shot got aired on BBC 1, Hamdan had just arrived in London a couple of months earlier and was busy getting laid for the first time!
OK, you may think that I am too easily amused. Be that as it may, there is something every intriguing about any man who can account for his actions and whereabouts for almost every historic event that comes to mind. To me, at least, this is nothing short of amazing.
Rafiq, whom you could say was no fan of Hamdan’s, was getting restless because Hamdan was hogging all the attention. He decided to burst Hamdan’s bubble: in the worst way possible.
“Hamdan, I bet 50 bucks that you won’t be able to tell us where you were and what you were doing on one particular day in history”, Rafiq challenged.
The rest of us went silent. We knew no good would come of this.
“Hmm, I think you may be right. So, lets not bet on anything, OK?”, replied Hamdan, backing down.
“No! I insist!” taunted Rafiq
After thinking for a second, Hamdan relented and replied, “OK. Fifty isn’t really that much, is it? I guess I can afford to lose a fifty…”
Evil gleamed in Rafiq’s eyes as he saw his opportunity. Loud enough for all to hear, Rafiq retorted, “I bet 50 buck that you can’t tell us where you were when Harbajan was bonking your wife’s brains out right up to the moment when you divorced her!”
I could see the hurt and anger that cut through Hamdan like a sword of fire. To his credit, however, Hamdan maintained his composure and replied, “Obviously, I was not at home…I was attenting to my mother, who was dying at the time.”
He turned to walk away but stopped to add, “By the way, Rafiq, you don’t have to pay me the fifty bucks.”
I walked up to Rafiq and decked him right there at the bar.