Annie was trying his level best to hide from the missus but suburban homes tend not to have priest’s holes. The lift was broken and the missus had made up her mind to have vegetables bought right away. Annie hated walking up the stairs.
"Why don't you tell Amma you hate walking up the stairs?" older son had counselled him on an earlier occassion but there were wheels within wheels. Annie was currently avoiding going to the gym on the grounds that he prefered to walk up the stairs instead, and was sneakily using the lift. And now that the lift was kaput, he couldn't very well do that. The missus of course, was delightedly seizing every opportunity to put some wholesome exercise Annie's way, and a form of exercise Annie loved anyway.
Sigh, thought Annie, not for the first time, Life is So Complicated!
He was finally cornered in the living room, behind the TV cabinet.
“What are you doing behind the TV cabinet?” asked the missus
“Er, checking the cable connection”
“Hmph. I want you to go down and get some veggies”
“Haha!” younger son laughed
“What are you finding so funny?” the missus scowled at younger son, and catching Annie smirking, turned on him
“And what are YOU laughing at? Pair of hyenas you are”
“No, no, nothing” Annie replied, and blushed.
“Why are you blushing? What is making you laugh? Something I said, no? Tell me now”
“N..No, no, it’s nothing, really, this chimp was making faces at you” Annie stuttered
“No, Amma, Annie was laughing because you said veggies”
“Why? What’s wrong with veggies”
“Nothing, nothing at all. These kids! They’ll laugh at anything.”
“No, Amma, you said veggies but Annie heard ‘wedgies’, which means ... Annie will tell you”.
Younger son scampered off.
There was a pause.
“Yes?” asked the missus. “Talk, Wedgie man”
“Er.. what vegetables did you want to buy?”
“Are you going to tell me or not?”
“Later, later. I have to go out to the pharmacy too, before it shuts. I’m out of my cholesterol medicine”
“Very well. You don’t want to tell me. I’ll find out on the internet. Meanwhile, get 1 kg onions, 1 kg potatoes, half a kg bhindi and half a kg chowli, if they’re fresh. And tomatoes. And cucumber”
There was no way Annie was going to remember all this but it was imperative to run, lest the wedgie episode start again.
On his way down, he met younger son. “What are you doing here? I thought amma told you to study”
“Can I come along to help you get wedgies?” asked the scamp, and ran away before Annie could clout him one.
“Onions, tomatoes, potatoes, bhindi, chowli, onions tomatoes potatoes, bhindi, chowli, onions...” Annie muttered on under his breath, a bit like a kabaddi player. Old Mr Hussain from the neighbouring building, who was behind him, mentally made a note that Annie seemed to be mental. Mr. Hussain thought everyone was mental, excepting himself, ofcourse. He also left his fly perennially unzipped.
Older son had once told Annie that Mr. Hussain's name was Yahya Khan. Annie believed it, naturally, and addressed him one day as Yahya Khan.
"Good morning Mr. Yahya Khan, how are you?" Annie had asked him, to which Mr. Hussein had glowered ferociously. Only later did Annie find out that it was Mr. Hussain's habit of peppering his conversations with Ya, Ya, that earned him that sobriquet.
'You could have told me atleast" Annie had complained, to which older son had merely told him to chill.
Both of Annie's sons kept telling him to chill.
"What do they think I am? A refrigerator?" Annie had complained to the missus
"Haha, you can be so witty sometimes" laughed the missus, in her silvery way.
But we're getting behind the story. Where were we? Ah yes, Annie went muttering the shopping list under his breath, lest he forget it, and ended up buying brinjals instead of chowli and forgot the tomatoes altogether.
"Well?" enquired the missus
Suddenly, the shopping list re-appeared before Annie's mind's eye.
"Er, oops. " Annie apologised.
"We have one and a half KILOS of brinjal in the fridge because you bought it thrice already and the boys are refusing to eat it. Why do you keep buying brinjals, Annie?" the missus asked.
And paused a while in uffish thought, as Lewis Carol would have said.
"Is there a Freudian explanation for your compulsive buying of brinjals, Annie?"
"I forgot my cholesterol medicine!" said Annie, cleverly changing the topic
"There should be a strip in your travel kit" said the missus. "And, by the way. I found out what a wedgie is"
Oops, thought Annie again.
"Though why you couldn't tell me earlier is beyond me. We're married, you know. To each other. You can be so silly and squeamish"
I will never understand women, thought Annie.
"By the way," said the missus, "you've been a good boy and you're going to get something tonight. A surprise!"
Annie loved the sitaphal icecream.