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: Mathur Nivas, Pune.
Word of caution: Ubi fumus, ibi ignis – Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
“Nahhhiiiiiiinnnnnnnn…..” screeches the portly woman, eyes round and ready to pop out from their sockets. Even the colossal mass of her saree, gleaming and heavy with rich zardosi work, appears to be in tandem with her incensed scream and adds value to her seemingly strong character.
The resonance of her voice ricochets off the walls of the magnificent hall, hits the resplendent chandeliers hanging above, gets absorbed to a certain extent by the billowing curtains and increases in amplitude finally, as a flash of lightning and the accompanying crash of thunder decide to make themselves seen and heard respectively, adding to the last embers of the original sound wave.
She turns around and sets her blazing sight on him, “How could you do this to me, Aaditya?”
Mrs Mathur walks toward Aaditya. With each step (thud) forward, there is a clash of cymbals, tribal drums and somewhere in the remote jungles of Africa, a lioness fighting with a meerkat to save her little cub quite agrees with the woman’s maternal sentiments.
Mrs Mathur: (Reproachfully stares at him and proceeds to wield the IMEB*) Have you no sense of family honour? Did I feed you with milk, raise and take care of you, only for this?
The movie camera shifts its angle and sets in motion the “Expression of an Individual at the rate of Two Camera Moments per Character.
Mr. Mathur– Mild and unperturbed, he trusts his wife’s better judgement. His script has no dialogue for the next eleven episodes, although his presence is an exclusive prerequisite.
Dadi– Jaw hangs open. Glasses perched at the tip of her nose; she looks about thirty five years old. In all possibility, she might actually be.
Dada– Watches Aaditya intently. He is thinking about dinner and the hot Aloo ke Paranthe.
The Responsible Bhaiyya– Stares concernedly at Aaditya. Unblinkingly.
The Wise/All-Rounder/Cricket Mom/Cheerful/Courageous/Generous/Multi-faceted/Multi-talented/Multi-tasking Bhabhi– Distributes her shocked gaze equally between her husband, Aaditya and her mother-in-law.
The Immature Bhaiyya– Wonders whether the next door neighbour would be willing to play cricket with him on Sunday afternoon, now that Aaditya has more pressing matters on his mind.
The Evil Bhabhi– Mouth twists in an angry pout. Having been previously chosen as the prospective bride for Aaditya by the Mathur family, she was later forced to marry the second brother for reasons completely forgotten by the story/screenplay team.
The Scheming Chachi– Eyes slyly reflect a silent celebration. Her mind runs wild with the aspect of further updates to her secret agenda. One brother down, two more to go. And pretty soon, the entire family property transferred safely to her children.
The Furtive Chacha– Lost in thought about the second wife and family that he has stashed away in a town apartment in Nagpur, he is not too fascinated by Aaditya’s exertions.
The Blah Cousin– Pretty impatient at the moment, she wants to get back to her crocheting. There’s a new pattern that she is dying to try out for her tea cosy set.
The Mean Cousin– Smiles at her mother in telepathic reply.
The Wannabe-Model Cousin– Too highly strung to be bored with the proceedings, she twirls a lock of her hair around a finger and dreams about the latest modelling contract glorified by her shady agent.
The Funny Cousin– Watches the scene interestedly, with a mischievous smile on his face.
Aaditya– Yearns to break down the fourth wall and talk to the audience. But instead, chooses to humour his mother.
After pivoting 395 degrees and catching the expressions of even the bunch of nephews, nieces and the family dog Bunty standing around in a circle with the rest of the inmates, staring at Aaditya and his mother, the camera finally pants for breath.
Aaditya: But Ma, I fell in love with her! I did not deliberately attempt to sabotage the family honour.
Mrs. Mathur: (In a pained line of attack) You fell in love with her! That is enough. We allowed you to go to Mumbai, because you wanted to work there, independently. And look what you’ve done!
Aaditya: (Stifles his impatience with difficulty) Ma, listen to me. She is a lovely girl. You will like her. She will fit perfectly with us.
Mrs. Mathur: (Acute indignation at his implication makes her heart skip a beat and her heavily decked bosom heave) How dare you suggest such a thing Aaditya? Are you even my son?
The Scheming Chachi and The Mean Cousin exchange knowing looks. Mr. Mathur looks on with a slightly bored expression. The Responsible Bhaiyya is about to intervene, when The Wise Bhabhi stops him.
Aaditya: Ma, please!
Mrs. Mathur: No, Aaditya. Today, you have hurt me and brought me unbelievable amount of pain. I never expected this from you.
Aaditya: (Sighs inwardly and says aloud) Malar is a beautiful and an intelligent girl. It’s not fair you’re not even giving me a chance to talk to you about her.
Mrs. Mathur: (Places a hand over her heart) Hey Ram! What kind of magic has that girl woven over my youngest son?!? (Narrows her eyes and looks at Aaditya) You want to talk about her? Fine, talk! But let me die in peace after that.
Aaditya: (Winces slightly at his mother’s words) Ma, I don’t have any intentions of hurting you. I really love Malar.
Mrs. Mathur: (Suddenly lunges forward) Malar?! What kind of a name is Malar? Where is she from?
Aaditya: Uhh, Err… She is from Chennai. She’s a Tamilian. And Malar, by the way, means “Flower” in Tamil.
The whole house grows silent at this sudden turn of events. The collosal hall with the bifurcated staircase might actually be uninhabited considering the hushed anticipation of the small crowd.
Mrs. Mathur: (Grips her head dramatically and moans aloud) Hey Ram! She doesn’t even speak Hindi? What is wrong with you Aaditya?
Aaditya: Ma, I never said she doesn’t speak Hindi. She knows Hindi and speaks quite fluently too.
Mrs. Mathur: (Closes her eyes and sways slightly) I think I’m already dying. I cannot believe my son is the person to bring dishonour to this family.
Aaditya is alarmed and gently handles his mother and makes her sit down on the couch. Turning around to Kaka (the family cook), he asks for a glass of water.
The Evil Bhabhi: (Smirks slightly and asks with fake innocence) Aaditya, you said she is a south Indian. She most definitely must be dark skinned. Tsk tsk, poor girl, that’s her fate, what to do? She probably uses all the coconuts along the coast to thoroughly oil her hair and maybe eats only curd rice. Do you really think she will fit in our family?
Mrs. Mathur: (Shocked beyond speech, groans helplessly) Hey Ram! She eats only curd rice? Aaditya! Why are you doing this to your parents in their old age?
Aaditya: (Pacifies his mother anxiously) Ma, she doesn’t eat just curd rice. She loves North Indian food. Really! And she’s an amazing cook as well. (Looks at The Evil Bhabhi and replies coldly) She’s a beautiful girl, dark skinned or not. And she’s got gorgeous hair, quite unlike your salon whipped one.
The Evil Bhabhi blinks, smarting under the sharp retort.
Mrs. Mathur: (Reels under an impulsive revelation) Wait a minute! Did you both…? Is she…? Is that why…??
Aaditya: (Protests in embarrassment) Ma! No way. How can you even think of such a thing?
The Scheming Chachi: (With pretend concern) Aaditya, our culture is different. Our rituals, habits, everything is different from hers. How can she adjust with us?
Mrs. Mathur: Does she even believe in God? Or is she an atheist? Do they wear Mangalsutra or finger-ring in her family?
Aaditya: Does that all matter? All that is important to me, is I love her and she loves me back.
Mrs. Mathur: You idiot! You’re blinded by the so-called love. All these things are very important. She will never fit in our family! Never!
Aaditya: (Straightens up in anger) Alright, that’s it! I’ve had enough! I came here to make you all understand how much I love Malar and how much I want to be with her. But all I hear about is how shameful an act that would be. I really want to know how marrying Malar is going to bring dishonour to the family. Actually, on second thoughts, no, I don’t want to know!!
Mrs. Mathur: (Stands up in anger) Aaditya!
Aaditya: (Holds up a hand calmly) Ma, please! If fitting in this family means wearing heavy georgette, zari sarees and make-up that would make a man run for his life, burdening necks with pure gold and 18 carat jewellery, visiting the beauty parlour thrice a week to repair broken fingernails and condition eyelashes, then I am glad my Malar is not going to fit here.
The entire Mathur family mutes the volume for the second time in the evening. Even Bunty flops down on the floor, morose and unhappy.
Mrs. Mathur: (Voice trembling with restrained fury) I forbid you to bring that girl to this house, Aaditya.
Aaditya: (Flippantly) Very well, I won’t. Goodbye, Ma. I don’t have a place in this house either.
Aaditya Mathur walks out of his house- 15, Vihar Road, Pune at 4:45 pm in the evening, with feigned disappointment and mock anger. An hour later, when he hits the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, he chuckles mischievously over the phone.
Aaditya: Malar! I’m done with mine. How’s it going with yours?
Glossary of Terms
IMEB: Intravenous Maternal Emotional Blackmail
Dadi: Paternal Grandmother
Dada: Paternal Grandfather
Bhaiyya: Elder Brother
Chacha: Father’s younger brother
Chachi: Father’s younger brother’s wife
There are times when you reflect on some of the smallest things that are somehow woven into the intricacies of your daily routine. The tiny broken ceramic doll on your window-sill, your favourite coffee mug, the missing shoe, the book on your night-table that you have been meaning to read for a million years now, the squeaky fan, the late night movies, the neighbour’s over-friendly doggie, your sister, the miss-you notes from friends, the FB status messages, your sister…
I remember the first time I fell in love with my sister- she was a tiny bundle, an exact replica of me and I know I was kind of proud of it. I remember the first time I really wished I could wring my sister’s neck- she had messed up all my toys and actually had the nerve to sit back, gurgling with baby laughter. The fact that we hold ourselves with more poise and élan now is but a mere curtain to all those Neanderthal-degrees of wrathful fancies that we still harbour for each other; occasionally, I promise.
I don’t remember a single day when we hadn’t fought. If the fights were over toys and Barbie dolls earlier, it was (still is) over the clothes, bags, the phone and other paraphernalia. She hates it when I touch her cupboard. I seethe when she takes a call on my phone. Fist fights, scratches and plucking of each others’ hair merely metamorphosed into the perennial war of words and vociferous cat-fights. Moments of jealousy and possessiveness get transformed into long periods of sulky acceptance. Arguments over who’s better, who’s older, who’s prettier etc add that extra pinch of salt to the already burning wound. The thin line between love and hate is stretched so taut, that the demarcation blends in with the medley of emotions. It is a lot of love sometimes and then it is a lot of hatred. I essentially begin to understand the phrase- “I love her so much that I actually hate her…”
Every day rouses up another side to us as we face each other grimly and genuinely smile at the end of it. It is definitely no wonder that there’re so many sides to sister-hood; after all there are two women involved.
Hers is the hand that I reach out for in the dark bedroom, after having watched a horror movie on a random Friday night. There is a never-ending girl-talk that occurs across the dining table, in the terrace, through the closed bathroom door, on bike rides, car drives, in a shopping mall, at the movie theatre…anywhere. Recounts about crushes (some of them too painful just because they were of the likes of Mirchi Karthik), make-up, love, hopes, dreams, fashion, clothes, aspirations, careers, choices, friends; the list is exhaustive and has a tendency to get updated… She is the first one that I look to for a reality-check. She is the last one that I call up for advice on small talk… She is the impatient one and does not suffer fools gladly.
Whatever different planets we come from, there is a bond that we both secretly recognize; that we’re the first ones to defend or help each other in times of trouble and also the first ones to share those moments of laughter filled fun. The fights and the fierce competitiveness would continue even after this. But I realize that it is these things that truly bring out the passion in the relationship. It also drives home the fact that however much I frustrate her, she’d always be there for me…
As someone said, she would always hold a little part of my childhood with her. Just as I’d always hold hers…
So on a fine day, the three of us- my sister Ri, dad and I, decided to spend some quality time together. In other words, we ended up sharing space in our car by chance on a hot Saturday afternoon, after we had dropped mom off at her uncle’s place; (right, this was a pre-IPL phase).
Despite growing up with a handful of sisters and having a pair of jaybirds for daughters, I don’t think my father ever fully acknowledged a woman-to-woman conversation as he did that day. Having been a witness, visually and aurally to a dialogue, that I believe has completely shattered his illusions, he no longer asks for the phone, when either of us is talking to any of our girlfriends. He simply terminates the line connection and supports his action with a quick replay of our unfortunate chat session.
I sat, sprawled across the back seat, as Ri and my father conversed about the share market, stocks and investments (yes, she is the son my dad never had). I peered lazily out of the window as the traffic streamed past in the afternoon heat. Maneuvering the car expertly, my father pulled it to turn right into a road leading away from the main traffic. We had to wait for a few minutes, to allow the flood on the opposite direction to clear.
Suddenly the unique radar most exclusive to women, kicked in and Ri transformed into the girl that she actually is at heart, leaving my father gaping mid-sentence while explaining about some basic shades of market analysis. Honestly, at the risk of sounding catty and bitchy, I would like to explain how the following conversation took place.
“Why is she standing like that?” Ri questioned, pointing at a strange-looking girl on the other side of the road.
“It’s her shoes. It’s like she’s perennially poised in a ballet twirl.” I replied back, wondering how it would be if she actually walked.
It was as if the woman heard me. The next moment, she started walking towards a nearby lamp-post while checking her mobile phone. After a few unenthusiastic steps, she turned around in a half circle and ran her fingers through her hair. Clearly, she was not used to wearing the stilettos.
She seemed to be suffering from the mid-life crisis of a hair-straightening session. The extremely curly hair amazingly turned ramrod-straight past mid-length, reminding me of a slab of reluctant noodles in a saucepan.
“She’s waddling like a duck.” Ri giggled and continued, “Seriously, why do they call it, permanent straightening, when the hair gets back to its original state in a few months? Weird!”
“You know what? I think she should just stick to flats and maybe tuck her hair into a pony-tail or something. But if you ask me, I like her hair better when compared to her dress.”
“Yeah, maybe she could have chosen a different colour for the top.”
“I wonder where she’s studying. She would barely be twenty.”
“Look at the blond streaks in her hair. Such a wannabe! Must be some local college.”
“She’s got a decent figure though. If she can take care of her clothes and hair, she might actually look good.”
“She wouldn’t be such good entertainment then!”
Before I could say anything, my father, who had been so silent till then, chose to interrupt and put an end to our chatter with a simple question.
“Oh my God! Is this how all you girls talk?”
Needless to say, that shut both of us up to quite a good extent.
But he just would not believe us anymore when we complain that we were having a serious, adult conversation over phone, right before he cut the connection.
DISCLAIMER: We all adore men; love so many things about them. On account of social responsibility, this one is to sincerely elucidate the Alpha Male of our species about why we women, are sometimes (if not most), the way we are. This might make up for a thousandth of the tip of the iceberg. For the rest of the clarifications, the best advice would be to consult the best teacher of all- Life.
Kindly note that this post is not meant to be offensive or rouse up riotous sentiments…
Enjoy Maadi… 🙂
1. Ogling- Boggling
As a famous man once said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever…”- ogle all you want at anything that is beautiful. After all, it makes you a happier person.
We genuinely understand how it is actually a loop programme imbibed in your rudimentary genetic code, to ogle at other girls, one after the other. If it has not struck you already, even we love to ogle at men. It definitely is an advantage to have the world population swinging on a balance of 105 men for every 100 women, offering us 5 extra men for visual benefit. In other words, for every Megan Fox, we have a Matthew McConaughey, a Ryan Reynolds, a Johnny Depp, a Gerard Butler and a George Clooney.
So the next time, you want to talk about how great she looks, we would love to have a conversation about sexy his walk is.
2. Sense of humour- hammer it down…
We love good sense of humour; especially the hilarity lurking genetically in every man, most of the time. But somehow, we really cannot take a crack when our pet parrot has just died or when our proposal has been rejected at work. That does not make us serious and severe people. That just makes us normal.
P.S: We know you are trying to cheer us up. But it just will not work. Not at that time.
3. The iHAB syndrome
Okay, so, you have provoked some girl into shrouding herself in the iHAB syndrome (I Have A Boyfriend syndrome). We do that only for two reasons:
- That there really is a boyfriend in the scenario, waiting to bash you up in the next camera shot.
- That, for some strange reason, you have scared the poor girl into hiding behind that excuse.
And both of these do not include the oldest game of “playing hard to get”. The sooner you understand that, the better.
We understand how pretty, understanding and totally out of the world your ex-girlfriend is. If you’re still not over her, kindly let us know as soon as possible, instead of letting us chew our nails off. If you are planning to hide behind the old-world wisdom of “a woman would never like to feel that she is sharing her partner’s affection with another girl”, then think again.
We do not want to think that we had been sharing “your love” unwittingly. Consequently, the post-confession period is a highly unpredictable phase. (Oh, by the way, we’d gladly claw her eyes out, if necessary.).
5. The Phone & Parallel Conversations
Telephone was probably invented by Graham Bell as an extended wedding gift for his wife. We love talking; even the shiest of lilies do, when they come out of their pods. We adore conversations over phone, in the bus, while driving a car, riding a bike, while taking a cab, while shopping, over the billing counter, during lunch, during high tea, when we get up for a drink of water at 3 am; I’m sure you have got the idea so far.
Talking over phone for hours together is only natural, when you take our larynx and high-energy verbal venture into concern. We realise, you would rather meet us face to face than talk over phone. That would also mean an hour’s worth of prior conversation over phone for fixing the whens, wheres and hows of a meeting.
To sum it up, when we talk about several things at the same time, we are actually not hyperventilating. Parallel conversations are only a result of high expectations from our side that you would essentially perceive what we are trying to say. We sincerely apologize for being extremely good at multi-tasking.
It is not just for the sake of a toothbrush or even a lip-salve. It is the whole works that makes the joy of shopping, a complete affair. Some of us are in love with the mannequins; some of us want to be the mannequins. There are quite a lot of us who are just content with window shopping and some of us, who are on a gleeful spree till the last lights are switched off in the store.
We make you wait at times (whether you choose to sit or walk along with us, is entirely left to you.). When we are ready with the credit card near the counter, a new line of jackets or shoes on sale would catch our attention, making us squeal in effect, leaving a trail of disaster in our wake. That’s us!
After all, we get dressed up, to please our men. Well, are you going to complain?
7. The Chick Flick
Boy meets girl, they fall in love and get married; they live happily ever after. Sigh, the joys of an onscreen love story- there are no questions asked, none answered, and in the end, it is all perfect and happy.
We watch these movies just to smile at the sappy dialogues, to squeeze a tear out when there is a heart break on stage, to beam joyfully when he finally says, I love you. When romance taps us on the shoulder, we really do not have the heart to say no, as you would observe.
However, we reserve the horror movies for Friday nights.
8. Wedding hoopla
Weddings, the perfect stage setting to make the bride feel like a princess, are also an extension to all the female guests on the special day. It is a beautiful occasion, celebrating the acceptance of vows and the beginning of rest of the life together, for the man and the woman. Small wonder, it holds a place of emotional importance in a woman’s heart. We are sure that, weddings make the men emotional too, especially the groom. But we would like to splurge in the emotionally charged atmosphere and consciously not use cool logic. So, if you want to ask us to pipe it down, we will not make the mistake of listening to you, I am afraid. You could, in fact, indulge us and have fun.
Listen to the men who are married- the wife knows what she’s doing.
9. Men- a complicated lot
We sympathize with the man who vents his frustration along the lines of- “Women are so complicated we just cannot understand them!”. Oh, you are not so far away from the truth, except that you probably conveniently forgot to include yourself in the scenario.
Being a human is complicated enough. Being a man does not make you any less complicated than a woman. End of story.
10. Why we say yes… no…
Oh, they are just some of the things that we say.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It is definitely not any justice to woman, who had been fashioned out of man’s rib, to completely explain who she is, after all. The only reason being- it is just not possible.
Woman, is an inexplicable mystery, a complicated posy of roses and that elusive breath of fresh air.
And for you men, we have lots of complicated love on the offer…