Living Together and The City – Their Story
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are a stint of fiction in all their entirety. Any resemblance despite this to real persons, living or dead, is purely miraculous and incredibly extraordinaire. And yes, coincidental.
Kindly note that this post is not meant to be offensive or rouse up riotous sentiments and be taken in the same way as it was written.
Location: B-1023, Mulberry Apartments, Mumbai.
Word of Caution: Virginibus puerisque, Vis inertiae – For maidens and youths, The power of inertia (why things never change).
The scene is set to hold the living room of a contemporary apartment. Tastefully decorated in shades of black, white and beige, the condo exudes an attitude of minimalism. But the assortment of people- draped on the couch, slumped on a beanbag, arguing over the cell phone, bent over a five-page list on the coffee table, is everything that the flat is not.
The Fashionista slams her phone shut and turns around.
The Fashionista– 26, Socialite by birth, Femme Fatale by chance, Ice Princess by choice. And if it is possible to squeeze in, Drama Queen by obsession.
The Fashionista: (Annoyed, announces to the whole room) Damn these pea sized, overnight successful boutiques! I write about them in my column and they ask me to wait. WAIT!
Aaditya: (Looks up from the list, says seriously) They probably didn’t understand you when you said, “Chuck off Monam Kapoor. I write even about her.”
The Fashionista: (Asks incredulously) What? I did not say that!
Aaditya: (As a matter of fact) Then they didn’t understand you when you said, “Put me in your appointment book before Monam Kapoor.”
The Fashionista: (Defends herself) That’s ’cause she takes a whole day to decide between a pink camisole and a white one.
Her cell phone rings. The Fashionista proceeds to take the call, and moves away from the rest of them.
The Greek God finishes thumbing through a men’s fitness magazine and puts it back on the coffee table.
The Greek God: (Gets up and looks around) Okay, coffee anyone?
Aaditya raises his hand to indicate his agreement.
Malar: (Says gratefully) Black for me. Strong and one spoonful of sugar.
The Dalal Street Executive: (Pauses to think and then speaks) White. Big mug. (Pauses) And, 2.5 spoonfuls. (Pauses again and elaborates with hand gestures) Less foam, but really thick, you know. Medium brown. Equal amounts of…
The Greek God: (Sits down amiably) Right. One black for me as well. And you heard the others.
The Dalal Street Executive glares at him, gets up from the couch and moves toward the kitchen counter. Aaditya and The Greek God exchange cheeky smiles.
The Cute Klutz: (Calls out from atop the beanbag) Wait! I’ll help you. (Follows The Dalal Street Executive)
The Greek God: (reclines on the backrest) Well, I like Monam Kapoor. She’s hot!
Malar: That’s all you look at!
The Greek God: (Grins unabashedly) That’s enough for me.
While we do a background check…
The Greek God– 27, A lower-rung Model, when not busy living off his older brother’s pay checks, graces television adverts along the lines of Zara Zara Peppermints and Bahutbadiya Detergent Bar with his open-shirted presence.
The Dalal Street Executive– 28, Perfect son, Perfect ex-student, Perfect current employee and even the Perfect tea sipper. An Investment Banker job profile couldn’t have asked for a more Perfect person to fit the glove.
The Cute Klutz– 24, Sweet and unassuming, it took her a whole month to understand why her manager baby-proofed her cubicle in the Publication House where she works as a junior copywriter.
Presently, The Dalal Street Executive and The Cute Klutz come over to the living area with steaming hot mugs of various shades of coffee.
The Greek God, fearing Third Degree Burns from an accidental cascade of boiling coffee, rushes to grab the two cups from The Cute Klutz. He hands one over to Malar and sets his own on the table.
The Fashionista, finishes her phone call and walks in from across the room. She takes the Big Mug from The Dalal Street Executive.
The Fashionista: (Sighs theatrically) Ah, I needed that.
The Dalal Street Executive: (Protests with half-emanated garble) Bu..Tha.. my coff..
The Fashionista takes a tiny sip from the mug and throws her head back in dramatic ecstasy, exposing her slender neck.
The Fashionista: Hmmm…hmm.. Nice… (Registers his floundering) Sorry? Did you say something?
The Dalal Street Executive: (Running a hand through his perfectly cut hair, smiles goofily) What? No, nothing. That coffee was for you.
Fiction– Perfect guys are absolutely perfect from their dandruff-free heads to their fungal-free toenails.
Fact– Some perfect guys do have a problem with saying the right thing to the girl they like.
Theory Established– “A Perfect Guy” is most often, a myth.
The Fashionista: Uh-huh, thanks! (Sits down)
The others snicker furtively.
The Greek God: So, how did it actually go with the family?
Aaditya: (Says dryly) It was a One Hour Drama Workshop for Rookies.
The Cute Klutz: (Curiously) Did you invite them?
Aaditya: Are you kidding? I threw myself out of the house before my mother changed her mind and pounced on me for details about the wedding.
The Cute Klutz: (Giggles) Did you tell them you guys live together?
Malar: My mother thinks we send our secret kids to school already. I doubt if telling her that we live together would even shock her. So I didn’t bother.
Aaditya: Phew! It was a weird weekend.
Malar: (Looking at Aaditya) I’m sure yours wasn’t as bad as mine!
The Cute Klutz: (Asks Malar) What happened at your place?
Malar: My brother was waiting for me at Chennai Airport when I reached. He was harbouring a misplaced idea of settling down with one of Aaditya’s sisters over here.
The Greek God: (Chuckles ) And then?
Malar: (Looks apologetically at Aaditya, and continues) It took me an hour to convince him that Aaditya’s sisters suffer from a rare kind of disease.
Aaditya gawks bewilderedly at Malar.
The Fashionista: (Stares at Aaditya doubtfully and asks) Disease?
Malar: (Speaks haltingly) Nothing big right…? Just a variation of… of Airborne Herpes.
Aaditya: (Appalled at her confession) WHAT!?!
The Fashionista: (Springing up and hastily backing away from the group, demands) What?
The Dalal Street Executive: What?
Malar: (Purses her forehead sheepishly and says to Aaditya) Sorry…
The Greek God hoots with laughter, pointing at Aaditya. The Cute Klutz gazes at Aaditya in fascinated horror. The Dalal Street Executive cautiously shifts slightly away from Aaditya.
The Fashionista: (Petrified) Now these are the things that you should really be telling!!
Aaditya: (Turns to Malar) Seriously, Airborne Herpes? Of all the million communicable diseases?
Malar: He was okay with Touch-borne Hepatitis. I needed something more drastic.
The Fashionista takes a fork from the kitchen counter and attempts to pick her evening bag from the coffee table, hoping to put as much distance as she can between herself and the unseen viral condition.
The Greek God: (Mischievously) Err…That won’t work, you know. She said “Airborne”. You’ve been here, breathing in that thing the whole while.
The Fashionista: (Places a hand over her mouth in terror) OhmyGod! OhmyGod!!
The Greek God slumps, rolls on the floor laughing his head off.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
A week later, at The Sub Registrar’s Office, Bandra, Mumbai…
The Cute Klutz: (Disappointed) I was thinking, this place…it’d be just like a movie.
The Dalal Street Executive: Like how?
The Cute Klutz: You know… With some couples eloping, major confrontations, exciting fight scenes and all that.
Malar: (Ironically) Aaditya and I are eloping, in case you haven’t noticed.
The Cute Klutz: Uh-huh. Yeah right. No one even raised any objections to your marriage announcement during the mandatory 30 day period.
Malar: (Complains childishly) Aaditya, our wedding is so not exciting at all!
Aaditya: You think!?!
He leans back in his chair and allows Malar to look at The Fashionista, who is sitting away from the others, at the far end of the waiting hall.
The Fashionista is wearing a Heavy Industrial Gas Mask and has even managed to match it with a brilliantly worked organza silk saree.
The Fashionista notices Aaditya and Malar watching her. She takes a notepad out of her small bag and rapidly scribbles something.
The Fashionista: (Holds the book up like a placard) THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!
Aaditya and Malar grin widely at her.
The pre-recorded voice system announces the next token number and everyone’s eyes is captivated by the number display board on the wall ahead. 306
Aaditya and Malar stand up quickly. Linking fingers, they look at each other, happy and nervous.
The Greek God: (Cheerfully) Okay, that’s us! Let’s get you guys married.
After a brief walk down a passageway, they all gather to stand in front of The Marriage Officer and his mammoth desk.
The Marriage Officer: (Reads their names from the list) Mr. Aaditya Mathur, Ms. Malar Mathrubhootham, I see you have submitted all the necessary documents.
Aaditya: Yes, Sir.
The Marriage Officer: Alright, you can sign in the register next to your names.
With a heady sense of excitement, Aaditya and Malar sign in the register.
The Marriage Officer: Will the witnesses please come forward and give their signatures?
The Fashionista and The Dalal Street Executive step into the view of The Marriage Officer.
The Marriage Officer: (Frightened of The Fashionista and her image make-over) Madam, you would have to remove your mask and show your face.
The Fashionista indicates a “Why?” with hand gestures.
The Marriage Officer: (Worriedly) Madam, I’d have to see your face because, you’d be signing on a legal document.
The Fashionista shakes her head from side to side, reflecting a “No!”.
The Marriage Officer: (Stares at her queerly and then asks the others) Is she sick? Does she have any dangerous disease or something?
The Fashionista whimpers angrily from behind the mask.
The Marriage Officer is now utterly convinced and is pretty alarmed about The Fashionista’s face being unmasked.
The Marriage Officer: Madam, sorry. You don’t need to remove the mask. But I’m afraid we cannot have you as a witness. (Looks at Aaditya) We can have one of your other friends as a witness.
The Fashionista stamps her stiletto-clad foot hard on the floor, with marked annoyance. The others try very hard to stifle their laughter.
Aaditya and Malar request The Cute Klutz to fill in, instead of The Fashionista.
Post all formalities, The Marriage Officer, allows them to choose a mode of traditional ceremony to complete the wedding.
Aaditya takes the Mangalasutra out from a jewellery box. He smiles tenderly at Malar and she blushes, bows her head dutifully. Holding the ends in both hands, he puts it around Malar’s neck, fastening it at her nape, when suddenly…
Mrs. Mathur: Nahiiiiiiiinnnnn…!!!
Mrs. Mathrubhootham: Adi paaaaavvvviiiii… !!!
The Dalal Street Executive: Somebody here asked for some drama, didn’t they?