5 FebruaryPosted: July 21, 2011
When I get back from work, Ogre is in Dodo’s room, packing his bags. The house smells of besan laddoos, and golpapdi, and chakli, all of which Ogre must have made for Dodo to take back with him. As if he is going to boarding school.
Dodo is saying: “He still seems quite enamoured by you, Ogre.”
Dodo: “I wonder what Subi thinks of it.”
I butt in: “What are you talking about?”
Dodo laughs: “Rummy. You know he’s always had a huge crush on Ogre. Since the days his flesh was not so ample, but his pimples were.”
Ogre glares at him.
Me: “And who’s Subi?”
Dodo: “His wife. Long-suffering wife. He spent the first 2 months of his engagement discussing Ogre’s charms with her.”
Me: “And she still married him?”
Dodo: “He was a rich, rich boy.”
Me: “And why did Ogre not marry him?”
Dodo: “Because she was a bold, brash girl. She wanted to travel. She wanted to be free.”
Ogre: “Can we stop discussing this now?”
Both of us ignore her.
Me: “Did Ogre like him?”
Dodo: “I think so. Didn’t you see her hovering around him the other day?”
Ogre: “I was not hovering around him.”
Dodo: “I’m sure if you give him the green signal, he’d dump Subi in a second, and be off with you.”
Ogre: “Yes. And where would we go off to?”
Dodo: “Oh, the pink horizon and all.”
Ogre says “Shut up” and stomps away. I sit down on the edge of the bed, curious to know more.
Me: “Did he ever propose to her?”
Dodo: “Oh, several times. And he was damn innovative about his proposals. He did all those idiotic things that you see in the movies.”
Me: “Maybe that put her off. Ogre can’t stand nonsense.” Dodo: “Yes, maybe you are right. Yes, perhaps if he’d been more solemn, and staid, she would have said yes. Who knows? Ogre never was one to talk much of her feelings.”
Me: “But did she have many friends?”
Dodo: “Not many. But she was intensely loyal to the few she had.”
Me: “And did she have other boyfriends?”
Dodo: “Oh yes. She had quite a queue lined up. She was very attractive. And she dressed stylishly, and she was so different from most other girls. She was quite something, Ogre was.”
Me: “And she isn’t now?”
Dodo doesn’t answer that. Just puckers up his lips and says: “Where has she gone off to now, she was meant to help me pack.”
I know what he does not want to say about Ogre, that she is not as bold as she had been. She is caring, and sober and all grown up, because of Etcetra and me. She had put aside all her plans for life to take care of us. And perhaps Dodo does blame himself a little for that, for passing on his responsibilities to her shoulders. But it is all past now. I feel like putting aside my grudges against Dodo aside for a while.
Me: “Should I help?”
Dodo looks at me, a little surprised: “Sure.”
We pack his bags in a companionable silence, sometimes I ask him some more about Ogre. Dodo seems happy to spend time with me. Perhaps it is me who has always avoided getting too close to him. Because I am afraid of the time he will go away, I stay away even when he is around.