My husband is the strong, silent type and speaks only to the point. His favorite piece of conversation with me after marriage was, “Sweetheart, tea, coffee or me.” And my reply used to thrill him. After all I am a Punjabi kudi. Although we are happily married, I am very different from him.
I do not mind confessing that I am a chatterbox and was always one. As I tell him quite often “After you, I love gossiping the most.” However, these days, the Gujarati chchora is little doubtful about my loyalty – he thinks that ever since I joined the new kitty group, he is no more numero uno. But, I must say, he has some justification for it.
Recently, a scandal broke out in our kitty group. A young married female member from my new kitty group got involved with the husband of another member. I was waiting anxiously to know if this would turn into a relationship. Naturally, I had to keep in constant touch with my friends to know the latest developments. The suspense to find out how far they had gone with each other, in real time, was killing me.
It was during one of such late night, yummy and mouth-watering exchange of text messages between the members of our kitty group on the emerging situation, dear husband came up with the same old request. I told him to wait. He sulked and went to sleep. When I joined him, after about a couple of hours, I saw he was having a restless sleep. I did not disturb him for I had far more important matters on my mind.
After a few days, the news came that she had gone back to her husband (oh, no) but my husband continued to be in a huff with me. Therefore, when I came to know that our club was organizing a qawwali programme, I decided to surprise him. He is very fond of Indian music and could not say no to my bait.
We reached the club in good time and met a few friends. The first half of the qawwali programme was disappointing – it was quite thanda. I love the masti and dhamaka in a qawwali programme especially the muqabbla, which generally takes place between the male and female qawwals. However, my husband enjoyed the session. He likes his qawwalis a little differently. He partakes the lutf from the allegorical references of the sufi renditions. But, being a Gujju, many a times he had to refer to me to understand the subtle connotations of the Urdu words. Other than that, he still maintained his distance from me at the programme.
But the qawwali troupe promised that the second half would be livelier. True to their word, the second half started a little differently. Each accompanying instrumentalist was given an opportunity to give a small solo performance before the main qawwali resumed. The final solo turn was of the tabla player. He started with the slower rhythm but soon went on to the faster beats. After a time, the beats started getting faster and faster and the tabla maestro’s fingers were flying as if in a blur. Mischievously, I got up from the seat next to my husband and moved one row back. I then started drumming on my husband’s back in unison with the tabla player. The ice was broken, as I could make out that hubby was enjoying the touch and the fast beat. The tabla play ended with a crescendo followed by a loud applause.
As the orchestra was getting tuned for the next number, I saw a well dressed and an attractive middle-aged lady walk down with great poise on stilettos towards the row where my husband was sitting in sole splendour. She inquired of my husband, with her eyes, if the seats next to him were vacant. She then gestured to the man behind her, who looked like a henpecked husband, to follow her. To my amazement, he was extremely well dressed too. He was wearing a red shirt with snug fitting beige trousers. He looked dapper but what really made him stand out was the printed silk cravat that was tucked inside the shirt. I thought that he, obviously, was a vain person for even his thinning hair seemed to have been placed with great care to cover as much area as possible of the pate underneath.
When the qawwal started singing the turbo-charged Runa Laila number “Dama Dum, Mast Qalandar,” I too joined in and started swaying to it. And when he came to the fiery “Dama dam mast kalandar, ali da pehla number,” I gave a hard thump on my husband’s back, which made him say a loud, “Ouch.” That made the gentleman in the red shirt turn around to have look at the person who made my husband say, “ouch,” and I could not help blushing at my impetuosity.
The gentleman turned out to be rather bold. With a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes he said, “Young lady, has anyone told you before that you very much resemble Sonam Kapoor.” I was floored by his compliment but, also, rather amused by it. I started laughing on an impulse
After I recovered from my laughter, I told him, “I wish I could say, with a straight face, that you look like Shahid Kapur” and burst into more laughter.
He knew I was mocking at him but recovered quickly with a self- deprecating repartee, “Shahid Kapur toh raha dar kinare, these days people think I look more like Anna Hazare.”
Oh, ho that was too funny, I thought – Anna Hazare with a cravat.
Later my husband wanted to go out for some snacks, so I softly asked, “Anna ji, could I get you and your wife some coffee.”
Again, with the same smile and gleam in his eyes, he put on a husky voice and said, ““Sonam ji if you insist, how can I say no to you?”
Wow, that line had so many layers of meaning in it besides saying yes to the coffee. It also came wrapped in a suggestive proposition. In admiration, I patted him lightly on his shoulder and said, “Anna ji, you are just too much.”
Later, whilst having coffee, I innocently told him, ““Anna ji, we must keep in touch.”
He immediately changed the meaning of my words by giving it a literal slant when he replied, “Sure. I always like to be in touch with good looking ladies. Closer the better.” And, there again was the evocative pass.
Once more, I could not suppress my laughter.
We parted after exchanging telephone numbers. Anna ji only has a landline telephone and does not carry a cell phone. He said he could not afford one.
After returning home, I tantalizingly told my husband, “Tea, coffee” and before I could complete my sentence, he sealed my lips. Thereafter, everything became as it used to be. All waz well.
Next morning, I looked closely at myself in the mirror and did think Anna ji had a point. I did resemble Sonam in a few departments – like the eyes and the smile. I was also slim and tall like her. Hats off to Anna ji for his discerning eye. What my husband did not see in me in so many years of marriage, Anna ji saw it at the first glance.
After a week, I called him on his landline number. I recognized his voice the moment he said, “Hullo.”
Coyly, I said, “May I speak to Anna Hazare ji?”
Imitating an older person’s voice and with a slight tremble in his tone asked, “Aap kaun bhenji bol rahi ho?”
Brazenly, with a laugh, I said, “Tumhari Sonam,” hoping to throw him off balance.
But he turned out to be a poorana khiladi. Substituting “Sonam” for “Sanam,” he gave a totally new meaning to the lines, as he crooned softly in the receiver a la Sunil Dutt in Sujata.
“Aaajaa Sonam …. madhur chandni mein,
Agar Hum Tum mile to wirane mein bhi aa jayegi bahaar.”
That “wirane mein bhi aa jayegi bahaar” I thought was extremely hilarious. I went into an uncontrollable laugh imagining poor Anna ji’s plight as he portrayed it.
Between a few more laughs, we chatted for some further time before disconnecting.
Let us see what the future holds. But for the present, Kya Karoon haye, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.