15 December

High BP didn’t call, of course. I feel foolish for having let his charms work even momentarily on me. But somehow, I am in a grumpy mood.

When I see Comma approach, I am ready to scratch-n-bite. But being somewhat more grown up than at school, I content myself with a dark scowl. On anyone else, it would have worked. But Comma ignores it, and gives me a poke on my upper arm. There’s much to be said for being self-centered and oblivious to others’ moods.

“This guy is coming today.”

Me, despite knowing the answer: “Which guy?”

Comma: “You know. The guy from Bhopal. We have to meet up with him in the evening.”

Me: “Why do I have to meet up with him?”

Comma: “Don’t be daft, Appi. I’m not going around with a strange guy in Mumbai.”

Me: “I thought you wanted to marry him.”

Comma: “We’ll see about that. But in the meanwhile, I don’t want to give him any ideas. You know, that I am free and available. That I wander around Mumbai on my own, and he can meet up with me as and when he pleases. With no outside interference.”

Me: “How does your mind even think like that?”

Comma: “Small town upbringing, and all that. We learn all the nuances of what this person will think if we do this, and that person will think if we do that, in our cradles.”

Me: “Exaggeration.”

Comma: “Whatever. But anyway, you have to come. At least, I’ll get a second opinion.”

I can’t deny the usefulness of that. A Second Opinion. Whatever it is worth. I nod.

“I’m in a bad mood.”

Comma: “All the better. We’ll see how he copes with that.”

Me: “And how is THAT going to be useful?”

Comma, vaguely: “Oh, you know.”

Me: “Did you ask him to come down?”

Comma: “Yes. But I didn’t expect him to be here so soon. You know, pronto.”

Me: “I suppose that means he is quite serious about you, doesn’t it?”

Comma, vaguely: “Yes, maybe.”

Then, after a moment of uncharacteristic silence, Comma grumbled, “Why did he have to be here so quick?”

“And why is that a reason for complaint?”

Comma: “I’ve had no time to think this out for myself. Now he’ll be here. And he’ll want a decision, isn’t it? And I’ll be forced to say ‘No’ when maybe I want to say ‘Yes’ or vice-versa. Or say something when I don’t want to say anything at all.”

Me: “Well, as much as I know you, that would be the case even if he came after a week, a month, 2 months, or a year. So, the sooner it is done with, the better.”

Comma: “It’s not an aching tooth, you know, Appi.”

Me: “Not for you, maybe. But for me, yes. Having to hear all about it, for much longer.”

Comma: “You ARE in a bad mood.”

I throw out a repentant ‘Sorry’. Comma, unfazed, pokes me in the ribs and says, “Oh well.”

I am still grumpy when we reach the seaside restaurant where we have called Comma’s Prospect. But a little bit of sea air and a little bit of innate politeness doesn’t permit me to be cantankerous in front of a stranger. So I am just my usual quiet self.

Comma’s Prospect is:

1. A little older than I thought he would be. About 30-31, I would say.
2. A little flummoxed at the sight of me. He had not been expecting a chaperone in the big, bad city of Mumbai.
3. A little nervous, despite his overt friendliness, and a tendency to be too polite.

But since Comma and he seem to have enough to talk about, I sit with my fresh lime and soda, looking at the people on the beach, and covertly, as and when I can, at both of them. Specially at him. Since I know I am going to be hounded for The Second Opinion by Comma, the minute he leaves.

However, there is not much I can deduce from a conversation that goes more or less like this:

Comma giggling: “And do you remember that Aunty with the purple lehenga? No, not my aunt. Kuku Kaka’s wife’s sister. She was dancing long after all of us stopped.”

Comma’s Prospect laughing: “I don’t know Kuku Kaka. Leave alone, his wife’s sister. Anyway, all I remember is you in your blue sari. No purple, green or red lehengas for me.”

Comma, rolling her big eyes: “Oh ho. As if. I saw you dancing happily enough with Lolo.”

Comma’s Prospect: “Who?”

Comma, accusatory: “Lolo. My cousin. In a mehendi green ghagra. Backless choli. Surely you couldn’t have forgotten that? Your eyes were riveted to her back as far as I could see.”

Comma’s Prospect, teasing: “Oh, so your eyes were riveted to me, were they?”

Comma, indignant: “Of course, not. I was keeping an eye on Lolo. She’s my little cousin, after all. And there were enough people lech-ing at her.”

Comma’s Prospect, bravely: “I don’t know about other people, I was not lech-ing at her. I didn’t even know her name. She just happened to be dancing where I was dancing. But my eyes were only hooked on you. Promise.”

Comma: “Oh really?”

Comma’s Prospect, a little desperate: “Why did I call you then?”

Comma shrugs with pretended indifference.

Comma’s Prospect, a little more desperate: “Why did I come over then, when you asked me to? Tell me.”

Comma: “How should I know?”

Comma’s Prospect: “Do you know what stories I had to make up to get your number from your cousin?”

Comma: “Thanks. Now I’ll have the whole of Indore hounding me about whether you called and why you called.”

Comma’s Prospect: “You should have given me your number yourself then, when I asked you for it in Bhopal.”

Comma makes a face: “Oh, and added to your list of phone numbers, is it? I’m sure you took the numbers of at least 4 girls at the wedding.”

Comma’s Prospect, staunchly: “No, I didn’t. And anyway, I am here.”
All this, accompanied by:

1. Comma nudging the Prospect with her elbow.
2. Comma thumping the Prospect’s back, with what are meant to be light taps, but judging by the jerks they give him, clearly are not.
3. Comma blowing smoke rings into his face. (She had decided to light up, to check his Shock Resistance factor.)
3. Comma pinching him on his arm, once.

Yes, at the last sentence, Comma actually pinched him, with a surfeit of pleasure at his Bhopal-Mumbai excursion. Comma’s Prospect moved his head a fraction of an inch closer to hers. She continued to look at him, her big eyes, mocking, teasing.

I look away. I don’t see Comma really needs a Second Opinion at the rate she is woman-handling the poor man. He of course, may go back and take a Deep Look at his bruises, and have Second Thoughts about the dangers of being with Comma.

Needless to say, Comma has made no attempt to ask the Prospect any of the questions Neempatta had asked her to. I wonder why she has called him here. Surely, they could have carried on this idiotic conversation over the phone. With lesser damage done to the Prospect’s skin and lungs. And to my ears and brains.

I feel grumpy all over again. I glare at the sunset, until I have a headache. At least, the headache saves me from some more Relentless Perusal of the Proposal and the Prospect for that evening.


2 Comments on “15 December”

  1. dipali says:

    Utterly hilarious, this one!!!!

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