Sunday, December 23, 2012

Has the newspaper come?

It was a breezy August in Mysore. I was in missus' house, for a wedding. A close relative of hers. We had been married just four months before, the missus and I, and this was the first time I was staying in her house, if you didn't count the couple of days I spent there just after my wedding. Then I was the star of the show, with people dancing attendance and treating my every wish as a royal command. As realization gradually dawned that N Shenoy was, not withstanding his stellar ability to talk about nothing for hours, actually a doofus, the treatment floated down to a more no-nonsense informal "want some tea?" level, which, frankly, was a great relief.

I pottered around the house with nothing specific to do. There was no internet of course -this was the early nineties -  and TV was mostly agricultural shows hosted by Doordarshan, which weren't all that bad, come to think of it. What I didn't know back then about crop rotation and the judicious use of pesticides wasn't worth knowing.

And one early morning, when this anecdote begins, I found myself with little to do and in a position to sympathize with employees of the Bombay Municipal Corporation, poor chaps, who get to office bright and early, bathed, dressed, Charlie perfume sprayed and find themselves with eight hours to kill with eyes wide open.

There was a Vishnu Sahasranama playing in the background. The puja room was being cleaned and decked in flowers. In the kitchen, people were busy preparing for breakfast. Dosa batter was being checked for consistency. Chutney was being ground. I could smell some mouthwatering filter coffee being brewed. Missus was sitting, brow furrowed, with the intense concentration of a chess player - Gary Kasparov could have taken her correspondence course - applying nail polish. And I was in the living room with an elderly uncle of missus. A sprightly octagenarian with a military mustache, I had never actually conversed with him. It was about six in the morning and I was aimlessly wandering around the place, hoping someone would take pity on me and ask me if I wanted coffee, where upon I would shyly say no, no, don't bother, whereupon the asker would insist and I would end up with a hot cupful of that superb smelling filter coffee.

Suddenly, the uncle addressed me. "Has the paper come?"

I darted out towards the gate, where the paper would be stuck by the delivery guy, and found it tragically paperless.

"Er, no, not come yet" I said, in my most apologetic voice

"Hrmpfh!", uncle snorted

And I slunk into a corner of the living room, feeling strangely responsible for his disappointment.

At five past six, he approached me again. "Has the paper come?"

Off I sprinted again towards the gate and found it still bare.

"No, no paper yet"

"Hrmpfh!"

At ten past six, I got the treatment yet again.  "Has the paper come?"

I did my Carl Lewis sprint to the gate and back

"No, uncle, no paper"


"Hrmpfh!"

This kept happening at five minute intervals and I was seriously feeling bad. Ashoka had nothing on me after the Kalinga war.

And then, around seven, the blasted newspaper guy FINALLY delivered the paper. I ran on wings of happiness, grasped the paper, called it "my precioussss" and ran back to uncle

"Here's the paper!" I told him triumphantly, like the lioness presenting the alpha male of the pride with the Thomson's gazelle.

He took it from me, looked at it, tossed it aside without reading a word and said "Hrmpfh!"

It's twenty years now, but I still haven't recovered. 


4 comments:

unjustly said...

1. I doubt you ever will!
2. He must be really closely related to your wife, since she obviously shares certain characteristics with him - unless of course, the entire family is like that! :)

Satyanarayanan said...

It is certainly a 'facepalm' moment.

Giribala said...

ha ha ...Reminded me of an old women who asks a bus conductor many times to tell her when the XYZ stop comes. But the conductor forgets and then in remorse requests the driver to go back.
When they reach XYZ stop, the old woman takes her medicine and asks the driver/conductor to continue....

Saumya said...

By gosh....this is so funny! Read it twice back-to-back!