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Sunday, June 27, 2010


Women, of all ages, are romantic at heart. It is one of the world’s most well kept secrets.

Women are, thus, a soft touch for starry-eyed stories. This is the golden pathway to a woman’s heart. This is what women really want – a good warm story. Only Yash Chopra and I are on to it.

Accidentally, I just happen to be an incorrigible storyteller. In my stories, I love mingling facts, fiction and fantasies. I have become such a veteran of this art, that after having woven the story, even I cannot separate the ingredients. Neither can Yash Chopra.

The biggest victim of these endless flights of my imagination was my wife in the early days of our marriage. Like any insecure person, I would tell her stories, more likely, fables, wherein I would make myself the hero. I could put Walter Mitty to shame any day.

Just after marriage, this story had my wife spellbound. I feel it is best to hear that narrative as I had told to my wife then. It made her believe that she was extremely lucky to be married to a very enviable lady-killer like me. Of course, she is wiser now. But unfortunately for her, it is a little too late! The stick-on has set.

I commenced the story to her thus:

“In my class at the college, there used to be an extremely beautiful girl by the name of Simran Bedi. She was really a pocket edition Venus. However, overpowering her total beauty, were her eyes. She had such lovely translucent eyes – light gray- green in colour.

Naturally, all the boys wanted to be friends with her but, somehow, it seemed that she was allured only by me. In spite of this, she and I would only exchange shy glances, for both of us were too timorous and hesitant to approach each other. Sadly, that was also the state of the entire new entrants to the college – all were finding it difficult to interact across the small groups that they had formed.

Therefore, the college organized an evening social for the first year students as an ice-breaking event. The social was to be from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm as girls in those days were not allowed to be out of home after 8 pm. No hi-jinks or dancing was even contemplated for this get-together; only tame party games were to be played so that students would get to know one another. That was about all. The compere for the evening was a senior, Murli Mirchandani – popularly nicknamed Mirchi. He could well have been nicknamed, motor mouth.

The social was in a big hall in the basement. Mirchi, the master of ceremonies, went ho-hum in his opening remarks that evoked few nervous titters. The audience was too tense to enjoy his witticisms. After a few opening games, the ever popular ‘passing the parcel’ was announced.

The music started for the game and the parcel started going around at a fast pace. The music would then stop suddenly and the person holding the parcel, at that point of time, had to peel off the top paper layer of the packet and pay the penalty as written thereon. After many enjoyable punishments, the atmosphere seemed to be warming up.

As the game was nearing the end and the packet was being handed over frantically from one to another like a hot potato, the music stopped and the parcel was in Simran’s hand. She took off the top layer and the forfeit read, ‘You have to be kissed by a person of the opposite sex.’ There was an audible murmur of shock and disbelief in the audience.”

I paused here for an edge-of-the seat effect on the wife. She was wide-eyed and very excitedly asked, “Then what happened?”

I grandly asked for a glass of water. I drank the water at a leisurely pace to deliberately give her some extra anxious long moments. Thereafter, I continued,

“Simran was feeling extremely embarrassed and wanted another simpler fine but Mirchi would not hear of it. Finally, she agreed and looked around for a suitable boy. Frankly, Mirchi was hoping, she would select him. However, Simran, after looking around for a while, chose me.

As I started walking towards her at the centre of the hall, I could see that she was feeling extremely nervous at the prospect. I do not know what got into me at that moment for I boldly took the opportunity, bent down and ………………..gave her a very light peck - barely touching her cheek. She was relieved. Quietly, she said, ‘Thank you,’ but her eyes said much more.

The ice between the most beautiful girl in the college and me had been broken as I graciously said, ‘My pleasure.’ And, with a twinkle in my eye added, ‘You are welcome again, anytime.’”

As I ended my story, there were stars in my wife’s eyes. Spontaneously she said, “What a chivalrous person you were.” With that, she rushed towards me saying, “I love you soooooooo much.”

Quickly, I said under my breath, “Thank you, Walter Mitty.”

This post is an entry for the contest What Women Want and

Saturday, June 12, 2010



One of the winners of Blogadda's "My first Crush !" Contest declared June 18, 2010.

The contest was judged by Preeti Shenoy author of '34 Bubblegums and Candies’. 

      She wrote: "A moment of weakness by Hanif Murad:

"Reading the above piece made me go‘aaaaaaaaw’. It is very well written too. Read it and you will see    why."

As Bombay started receding from the rear view mirror, we could feel the change in the weather. The chilliness in the air was bracing, as the car slowly started climbing the ghats towards its destination. The holiday resort we had booked was perched right on the top of the hill and was supposed to have a breathtaking view of the valley. It promised to be a great holiday. I had, then, just been promoted to Standard X of my school. I had also attained, for the first time in my school career, the top rank in the class. However, I was bespectacled and gawky in my looks.

The owner of the resort and his wife were a friendly and an affable couple. However, their 15-year-old daughter, although living in a small hill station, had a mega attitude about her. She preferred to stay aloof from everyone. It was by sheer chance that my parents casually mentioned about my recent scholastic accomplishments to the owner’s wife. She, thereupon, requested me to coach her daughter some mathematics as she had failed in that subject.

I was thrilled by this opportunity for, truth be told, I was smitten by her fresh scrubbed looks. Therefore, I was secretly delighted that she had failed in mathematics for I thought this would bring down her conceited bearing when we would meet the next day for the tuition. However, I was in for a surprise.

The next morning found us sitting together, at one corner of the huge dining table, for the teaching and learning of the Unitary Method. She was arrogance personified and almost made it appear as if she was doing me a favour by being willing to learn the subject from me. I checked her mathematics’ class workbook and found it not only untidy, but also full of angry crosses by her teacher in red ink.

Nevertheless, keeping her outlook in mind and my feelings for her, I asked her in a very conciliatory tone, “Mrinalni, tell me what you don’t understand about these sums?”

Haughtily she replied, “Everything.”

Keeping my cool, I jokingly replied, “That’s good. We can start from the beginning.”

She condescendingly nodded her head to imply that she may just deign to hear me out. It felt that I was the one actually on trial.

I started with the simplest of the equations and told her how to place the fixed and the variable values in the proper slots to arrive at the correct answer. Thereafter, I set her a problem but she just could not get it right. Being as infatuated as I was at that time, I remained extremely patient with her. Repeatedly, in different ways, I tried to explain the formula to her but it was all in vain.

Finally, I could not take it anymore and with great exasperation told her, “You don’t have brains. You have sawdust there.”

She flared up at that, and with her cheeks glistening red with anger, she pulled the books from me, shut them with a loud bang and, after giving me a regal sneer, walked away. She went straight to her mother and banging her fist forcefully on the table told her, “I don’t care if I have to repeat this class for a hundred years but I will not be taught by him. He is an awful teacher. He cannot even explain a simple formula!”

For fifteen days after that, we did not speak to each other. However, a picnic and a game of antakshari came to the rescue. Knowing the cold war between Mrinalni and me, we were put on opposite sides. I launched the game with the soulful number from Madhumati, ending with,

Ruthhe Hain Naa Jaane Kyo, Mehamaan Woh Mere Dil Ke

I must have rendered the song with some feeling for most people thought I was pouring out my heart to Mrinalni. The game, however, proceeded normally until Mrinalni, most unsuspectingly, responded to a later antakshari cue and sang the opening line of another song from Madhumati,

Aaja re,

There is a small interlude after that and as Mrinalni paused, a lot of furtive glances were exchanged amongst the participants but Mrinalni was totally unaware of them. She continued,

Main To Kab Se Khadi Is Paar, Ye Ankhiyaan Thak Gayi.
Panth Nihaar, Aaja Re Pardesi

As she innocently ended the mukhda, there was a burst of spontaneous laughter. Someone, looking towards me, quipped, “Hey, you have got your answer.” That was the first time Mrinalni realized the possible implication of the song. She blushed furiously, hid her face in the palm of her hands and went right at the back where no one could see her. After the game ended, I went up to her and said, “Mrinalni that was a beautiful way of expressing your feelings.”

“Eh, Mister, don’t flatter yourself. Chhera kabhi seeshe mein dekha hai” was her quick retort. It was vintage Mrinalni. But the defrost had begun. After a week, I left for Bombay and Mrinalni found it difficult to put up a brave face at my departure.

Many years have passed since then and Mrinalni is now married and has two cute children. The children love to hear me recount the above anecdote. I begin the narrative thus to them, “Your mother is a very beautiful woman but even at the age of 15, she could not add up 9 + 7.” The children - who are five and seven years old - are greatly amused by this revelation about their mother. Finally, I would end the story by saying, “Ananya, you are as beautiful as your mother but I hope you don’t have sawdust in your head!” At this, both the children would squeal in delight and Ananya would say, “No, no. I am like Papa.”

Mrinalni, at this point, with mock-strictness, would tell the children, “You have heard your Papa’s favorite bedtime story, now off to bed.” Mrinalni fondly remembers that Valentine day, about nine years ago, when, as she blushingly says, in a moment of weakness she had agreed to marry the Pardesi.