Tuesday, 12 January 2010

That Greek God... Part 7b

I turned around for the millionth time and looked at the ceiling. I took some comfort in the familiar whirring sound of the fan. Such a simple life, a fan leads. It just has to keep whirling around, staying put in place. Apart from getting dizzy, it doesn’t seem to have any other problem and is quite happy to swing its blades in a circle.

I couldn’t understand myself or my thoughts. It was obvious. I had expected myself to be extremely ecstatic and jump over the moon when all the angels above finally answered my prayers. It could have been the shock of having been given, what I had asked for. Really? I wondered if something was wrong with me. How could the guy who seemed as delectable as the forbidden fruit earlier, appear as ordinary as a morning newspaper suddenly? I got up and started pacing the room. No wonder they say women are complicated. I looked at the clock and was surprised to see that it was nearly half past four in the morning. Needing a caffeine hit immediately to gear up the cogs in my mind, I decided to make do with instant coffee.

Opening the door, I peeped into the living room. It was pitch dark and I cursed Jahnavi with a thousand ultra-huge boils on her face for not keeping the incandescent lights on. She had wanted to study for a test in the other room and had promised to switch them on before she went to sleep. Clearly, she forgot and I sincerely hoped for three extra zits on her nose. I am terrified of darkness and would sell my soul before taking a walk through it. I took my mobile phone out and pathetically used it to light up the area as I walked forward, watching the floor. The throw of the light wasn’t enough to radiate a mosquito three feet away and that was how I ended up bumping into something really solid.

I was paralyzed with fear and my traitorous throat muscles worked down instead of up, leading me to gulp down rather than scream out. In the feeble light, I discerned the marauder to be Appa and he closed my mouth before I could scream in relief. He was dressed up for skiing. The only things missing were the gear and a pair of snow-goggles. He saw me look at him weirdly. It’s been a long time since I saw Appa at about 4:30 in the morning. Heck, I don’t even see him at breakfast anymore. I have it at about half past eleven in the morning, a few minutes after waking up, when everyone’s left for the day.

“I am going for my morning walk.” he explained.

“Ah, of course. But is Switzerland a kilometer away?”

“It’s December right now. And pretty cold outside. Don’t give me that talk. How many days has it been since you came down from the fifth floor anyway, Madame Princess? Sorry, should I say weeks?”

I muttered an apology under my breath and moved over to switch the lights on. I had to escape before he started off about my non-existent job early in the morning. Ushering him out quickly, I closed the front door after him. I made some coffee in the kitchen and was walking to my room when I heard a giggle emanate from the study. Jahnavi is not a morning person; wild horses wouldn’t be able to drag her to study or revise in the morning, however important the test is. And that surprised me, the fact that she was awake at this time.

I pressed my ear to the door. It was apparent that she was in a deep conversation with somebody on the other end of the phone line. I am basically not an eavesdropper. But certain circumstances pull out such instincts even in the most goody girl.

“..ha ha.. You can’t call that ‘love’. I am sure it’s just a brief infatuation...” Jahnavi was saying, with laughter in her voice.

Love? Who the heck is she talking to at this time in the morning? That is so unlike her.

I pushed the door open unceremoniously and she was so shocked to see me, it was almost funny. She immediately cut the call and put it by her side, nonchalantly.

“Who were you talking to?” I demanded. If she had asked me to mind my business at that moment, I would have had no choice but to do just that. But Jahnavi opted otherwise.

“I wasn’t talking to anyone. I was just setting a caller tune on my phone.”

“At this time of the day?”

She shrugged indifferently. I want to reassure you at this point that I don’t consider myself as the worldly know-it-all woman, but I am not a Kuyili from Kottaanpatti village either. It was obvious that she was lying. Curiosity reared its ugly head inside me and I had to find out who it was. I had to get hold of her mobile phone and only cheap tactics would work.

“Okay. Let’s get to bed. I haven’t slept through the night. You must have stayed up the whole night as well. You have a test today. Get a few hours sleep before starting for college.” I managed normally.

She agreed with me (Thank God for that) and picked her stuff up from the table. We settled down in the bedroom to sleep, my coffee forgotten in the study. The seconds ticked by painfully as I waited for Jahnavi to go into deep sleep. After nearly half an hour, during which I was highly strung up to fall asleep myself, I heard her breathe evenly. With a pang of guilt, I reached over for her mobile phone and checked the call log. I forgot to breathe for the second time that day. I recognized the number and the person.

It was Gautham who called her, who was talking with her about stuff like ‘love’, at 4:30 in the morning.

Gautham… My Gautham???

That Greek God...Part 7a

“Yeah, come on in. I promise I’m not the serial killer who has been tossing young women into the incinerator.” said Karthik, with a wicked grin.

Awww, bless that dentist of his. Even the devil wouldn’t have such a perfect set of teeth.
On a serious note, I couldn’t believe the guy was actually sensitive to the tiniest of thoughts in my head. I wasn’t quite able to place the nagging sensation; but I could sense it share its basic trait with a shade of betrayal. I took a deep breath and stepped into the tastefully decorated apartment. I had been there before, to his aunt’s apartment. She had invited me over once, during Navrathri. But Karthik wouldn’t have known that.
The afternoon sun was softly hushed by the shades drawn across the French Windows. He invited me to take a seat by the coffee table and offered to get some water for us.

“My aunt loves thumbing through books on interior design. Every single thing in this apartment was personally collected by her.” he said, handing me a glass of cold water.

I smiled and took a sip from it. My insides were churning with a mixture of myriad emotions; nervousness coupled with an excitement and I was overwrought with tension. It was a wonder I kept my mouth shut firmly through it all. It felt like biting into a bar of rich dark chocolate without worrying about the extra calories- an aphrodisiac with no conditions attached; except that this was even better. Tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, I tried to concentrate as he was explaining about the whole write-up and what he exactly wanted for the script.

“All the reading material is in my room. We can work there, if you don’t mind. This coffee table is hardly comfortable.”

I nodded, swallowing hard. It was like being given permission to enter Vaikuntam by the Dwaara-paalakas. He ushered me into his room and drew the shades back, allowing the light to come in through the window. It was the spare bedroom, sparsely furnished and I could see how much he had made himself at home with all his paraphernalia strewn about. To be honest, it looked like a disaster area, the only thing missing being the vultures scanning the zone to scavenge.

“Oh, my God, I’m really sorry; I thought the housekeeper would have cleaned my room by now.” He looked so embarrassed, I had to force myself not to giggle.

“I am guessing she didn’t.” I said before I could stop the words from tumbling out.

He gave me a wry look and raked his fingers through his hair. I had to admit that the guy had a gorgeous mane. It fell in endearing waves over his forehead and I had to drag my thoughts back to the untidy bedroom.

“At least, the table is decent enough to work on. Why don’t you start working while I get all this cleaned up?” he suggested.

I agreed and switched my laptop on. I sifted through the reading material as he finished shoving everything into the cupboard, closing it firmly, lest they should all fall off. My eyes fell on a framed picture on the table. Vichitra and Karthik were smiling into the camera and they both looked a tad bit younger. I realised that the niggling feeling in my mind bore its roots from there- that connection between them. I smiled sadly as I acknowledged that they actually looked so good together. That roused my curiosity and set in motion the chain of events thereafter, that I had no control over, whatsoever. I asked the question that put his cranial function into overdrive.

“So when are you two getting married?”

“Huh, what?”

“When’s the big day? I mean you and Vichitra.” I divulged the obvious auxiliary information in an effort to help him as he opened and closed his mouth like a confused fish.

“Sorry? I don’t get you. Did you just ask me if I was getting married?” he asked incredulously.

“No. The question was when. Wait a minute, did you say ‘if’?”

“What are you talking about?” he asked, walking forward toward me.

I swung around in the chair and pointed at the photograph. He bent over across me as he reached out for the picture. His head was right above my shoulder and I forgot to breathe. He straightened up and looked at me amusedly.

“You thought we were getting married?”

“Did I say anything amusing? I don’t understand.”

“Ha, we are just friends. Vichitra and I. She’s getting married. You got that part right. But not to me.”


He’s not getting married? No, he’s not. Definitely not!!

The whole world tilted around me as I tried to hoist myself out of the chair. I handled a weak smile while I desperately racked my brains to think of something intelligent to say. Karthik gave an encouraging nod and grinned back.

“So why would you think that we were going to get married?” he enquired curiously, clearly puzzled, I am sure, as to how his aunt could have such a whacko for a neighbour.

“I..umm… No. I just assumed, I guess.” I finished lamely. My mouth! How I wish I could detach it from the rest of my body and squish it, till it begged for mercy and promised to keep quiet. Like any typical guy, he took my answer at face value and didn’t question me any further. Ah, Thank God for that. If it had been a girl, my fate would not have been satisfied till it had seen me being plucked apart, pulled inside out, and giving answers to all the whys, whos and whats.
However, he continued regarding me with a strange glazed look. I fidgeted and cleared my throat. That broke his thoughts.

“Okay, so let’s get finished with all this work. We will have some coffee, later, huh?”

I couldn’t have agreed more. I was dying to get back home and just absorb the whole episode in; to have a decent reality check.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

That Greek God... Part 6

“I should get married… to at least beat this recession period.” Jahnavi quipped, crunching on some potato crisps.

Vidya and Supraja giggled in acquiescence, while Gautham glared at me. I ignored it religiously and continued pouring out the cool orange juice into the glasses set on the coffee table.

“Did your father decide to throw you out of the house to save on some monetary funds?” enquired Nakul in all amused gallantry.

Jahnavi ignored the jibe and caught on to the last embers of her statement with positive enthusiasm, “Actually if you all look at it, it’s quite a lucrative venture.”

Ending the conversation over his mobile phone with a tap to the end button, Shashwat grinned engagingly, “So how do you propose to go about it?”

“It’s very simple- find a millionaire and get married to him.” Jahnavi replied without batting an eyelid.

Nakul choked on his drink, “Machaan, she is the devil incarnate. No wonder, wise guys stay away from girls.”

Raising a brow at that, Gautham smirked, “As long as we have guys like you, girls like Jahnavi would definitely want such dim-witted millionaires in return for interludes of credit crunch, Wise Guy,” and he regarded me with a strange look, “Are you also looking for someone similar, Anu?”

“The answer is Veerappan.” Vidya intervened mischievously before I could say something.

A split second of stunned silence gave way to uncontainable guffaws from everyone. Apparently, I discovered, my friends were singularly determined to throw Veerappan into my already pathetic love-life at every possible turn.

I just couldn’t picture myself as the village belle who would come running (with arms outstretched on the sides) to the singular bus stop where the only bus for the day would somehow manage to drop off a very ecstatic Veerappan (who’s returned from the town). I would rather commit myself to third degree torture than scuttle screaming out, “Maaaaaammmmuuuuuuu”, at the end of which:

1. My vocal cords would have singed out on account of burning.
2. Director Bharathiraja would shout “Cut” and the shot be approved.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There is something logically paradoxical about walking down the streets of T Nagar a week before Diwali in the company of a younger sister who is persistently preoccupied with a mobile phone. Your best ally at combating the thronging crowds is lost to the rampant attraction of communication technology and you are left alone to claw through it all, at a pace which guarantees getting past one and a half people at a time.

Nearly three hours later, I managed to pull her out as she was using her spare arm to send a text message to someone.

“Cut it out!” Jahnavi complained distractedly.

“Do you even realise that a small kid wiped his gooey palms on your dupatta after finishing his candy bar?” I asked, completely irritated with her.

She whirled around with a shriek and dragged the end of her dupatta out. Her mobile phone fell down in the melee and blacked out. Juggling some heavy shopping bags, with her cell phone perched precariously between my fingers, I triumphantly pushed her toward the two-wheeler at the parking lot. Finally!!

“You’re going to ride now and I am going to sit behind you.” I announced menacingly.

Grumbling about the tyrannies unleashed by older sisters, she keyed the engine to life and waited till I hopped on. I would never forget the journey back home…

The bike protested sadly as it wheezed forward in the traffic. We were trying to convince Appa to donate the relic to the Madras Museum. Appa, however, was under the firm conviction that the “antique” would fetch us our own feature in a newspaper supplement. I am surprised it had not even made front page news already for holding up traffic even when the entire road held only a bullock cart for competition.

“Hey girls!...” I turned around as my thoughts were interrupted. “…do you need some towing with that archaeological stuff?” sneered a heartrending excuse for a monochromic grizzly bear, right next to my ear.

“Why yes, you jerk. Why don’t we have a little discussion over it, if you manage to survive this?” jeered Jahnavi and gave a quick twist to the handlebars of his bike. Distracted, the guy ended up banging into the car in the front. I never knew if he managed to survive the consequences. But my ears having been subjected to a steady onslaught of abuses and curses surging unreservedly out of Jahnavi’s mouth, started bleeding and by the time we stopped at the next traffic signal, I was numb with exhaustion.

I spotted a brilliantly coloured tropical bird a few feet away and wondered if the migration season was on. The bird shrugged its bright plumes and scratched its eyes with a couple of grubby fingers. Wait a minute, did I say fingers? Yes, I did and out of that radiant plumage, ladies and gentlemen, emerged the most spectacular chunk of solid rock that I had ever seen. It turned around, bared its teeth to grin at me and then I realised I was staring into Veerappan’s doleful eyes.

Jahnavi narrowed her eyes when she saw him. Turning around, she smiled painfully.

“Anu, did you see him?” she enquired.

“I did. Just now.” I replied back weakly. It is as if he is the highest paid actor in my blog. He turns up in every act.

“He has been stalking for quite some time now. I noticed him in the rear view mirror. I will handle this.”

Flailing her hands out, she beckoned him to come over to the edge of the road on our side. The lights turned green and we parked under a tree. He maneuvered his two- wheeler slowly in our direction and came to a stop with a wide smile on his face.

He was the first chicken that I had seen which was at its happiest on its way to a slaughterhouse. You shouldn’t misunderstand me, but Jahnavi finds her peace of mind when she gives her voice some space.

“Veerappan, what were you doing?” she began, without a preamble.

“Hi, Anu, I am sorry, I don’t know your sister’s name.” he smiled genially. I almost felt sorry for him.

“That is not necessary,” she snapped, “You were stalking us. Yes or no?”

“I… what?" he spluttered, not yet comprehending that a single word would trigger my boiling sister off at this point. Believe me; I have been at the receiving end.

“Was that a yes or a no?” Jahnavi snarled. I could see she was ready to bite his head off, however awful it tasted.

“Listen, I think you must be mistaken.” he tried in a complacent tone and I heard the Saavu Melam (Funeral Song) at a distance, but approaching us steadily.

“I will tell you who’s been mistaken. What do you think of yourself? Periya pancha-varna kili ya? Don’t you have any sense? Anu doesn’t know how to say no. But I do. So stop following her. Do you get me?”

Tapping her foot impatiently, she waited till he assimilated her outburst. When he didn’t speak for a second or so, she pounced on him. This time, I detached myself from the group and scanned the road for an auto rickshaw.

She continued giving her voice-box a powerful work out for a full ten minute phase after which she took a brief sabbatical. Two curious by-standers approached her and asked if there was any problem. A several danda naka-danaku nakas later, they beat a hasty retreat and I speculated if I had to bribe Veerappan to get out of the place before Jahnavi attempted homicide. I turned around to interrupt her when I noticed the emotion on Veerappan’s face. It seemed spine-chillingly familiar. He was wiping the sweat off his brow and a cigarette packet was peeping out of the pocket in his yellow jacket. Bringing myself back, to the sonic boom, I caught traces of Jahnavi’s hollering venture.

“…yes, that! So why do you smoke? Is it because your favourite actor Vijay smokes? Can’t you read English? Doesn’t every cigarette packet carry a statutory warning? You not only want to go down voluntarily, but want to pull us down along with you. How can you be so selfish…”

I then knew that Jahnavi had gone too far this time and I had to stop her. It all clicked at the same time in my mind. You never ask a guy to quit smoking. Never, ever! That is the most fundamental rule to be followed. Any breach of that rule would have the guy thinking you cared for him.

Now I understood the wealth of feeling on Veerappan’s face- a look of absolute, honest adulation; for Jahnavi. The same look that he had before dropping down to a knee at my feet.

Of puppy love and true love…