Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reflections.. Part II

The uncle's house was in a four storied building off a sleepy road in Juhu. The watchman - I remember him still, a stocky guy with a large red tilak and a huge mustache that started from his nostrils and ended up at his ears, mingling freely with hair originating at both locations - seemed to stare at me sneeringly. "This? This is the best they could find for our gudiya? This?" his gaze seemed to say.

"Stop being paranoid, Naren" I told myself, and recited the "Out out brief candle" thing from Macbeth under my breath. But the old heart kept beating like a bass drum

We took the elevator up and entered uncle's flat. Uncle opened it and our procession marched in - my parents, followed by my sister and our maid who insisted on tagging along everywhere (and whom my mother dared not defy because she was Efficient. She reminded me of Wodehouse's Baxter and my mother Lord Emsworth, but that's another story), followed finally by me.

In the living room were about a dozen pairs of the bushy eyebrows that run in missus' family below which a dozen pairs of eyes gave me the scan in a sawtooth waveform pattern.

"Please, sit, sit" - Uncle

We sat down in a line on a sofa. I turned out to be in the soft spot, sinking in till my head was level with my sister's shoulder.  There was a silent what-to-do moment where everyone just stared at everyone else trying not to laugh, except me of course. My bass drum heart was keeping me busy.

"Sit here" Uncle pulled up one dining chair and placed it at the head of the two sofas which where parallel to each other. I sat there and found myself now the center of all attraction. Slight Raja in Darbar feel, except that, you guessed it, bass drum heart was beating louder than ever.

Uncle made some imperceptible gesture towards a half open door that seemed to lead into the kitchen, and then she emerged. With a tray full of teacups.

She started with my parents, then the maid, then my sister and finally me. I focused my gaze on the teacup, praying silently that I wouldn't spill it on my trousers. Luckily, nothing of the sort happened. My tea drinking, however, did attract the attention of everybody because, as missus has told me on many occasions subsequently, without mincing words, I was making loud slurping sounds.

"It was a lovely acoustic effect" the missus reminisces these days, whenever she manages to find an audience for this kind of thing, which is often, "with fine treble notes of the tea being slurped in syncopation with the bass notes of the gulping, enveloping the room in which Naren used to drink tea. Sadly, people of insufficient musical ability found it odd and raised eyebrows"

The teacup routine over, she went over to the other sofa and sat between her aunt and her mother. I slyly raised my eyes and looked at her. She was pretty.  I heaved a silent sigh of relief. I had been told that one did not reject girls because they did not look pretty, because if one did, word went around that the boy was picky. which meant no one would bring proposals to one and that would be that.

I looked at her again and found her looking at me. My heart gave an extra loud thump and I averted my gaze immediately. But not before I had noticed she has deep greenish brown eyes. The bass drum, which had stopped for a while after I saw her eyes, began thumping again at a rapid rate.

There was some traffic related banter  - which road did you take? Oh, that one, haan? This other one would have been better - and then the company descended into a contemplative silence.

Then Uncle cleared his throat. "The boy and girl can talk inside that room"

We both got up and walked in.


bipolar said...

oh Mr. S I've been waiting for the continuation of this post ever since I read the first one. I'm so happy I'm the first to comment. I'm glad I stayed up tonight :)
I come to your blog whenever I'm disturbed cz reading about a nice happy, loving family makes me feel so secure.
I just hope I get a hubby who's half as loving as you are :)
Keep blogging