I had always thought it was Papa's 'over-protectiveness' that made him dislike the idea of me talking or befriending any boy. I say 'boy' because the first memories of Papa reacting adversely to any male company around me goes back 20 years... I was 9-years-old and the said boy was 12.
We were stationed at Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh). This boy was a visiting relative of one of our neighbours. He was about two inches taller than me, had nearly blonde hair (called it 'English' hair back then) and very, very red lips. So he would play with us and we became playground friends. Till the day he pecked me on the cheek for some reason and there was "scandal" amongst the kids. I promptly reported the transgression to the Aunty whose house he was staying in; who in turn 'apologised' to my mother. That should have been that, only that Papa decided to have a mini-talk with me (over the years the length of those chats grew, much to my alarm).
The only thing Papa said was, "You stay away from that boy, he is not a good boy. All these Punjabi boys." After that I stayed away from 'Punjabi' boys for a long time. Till Papa found that one of my closest friends was a Tamil boy. Then he said, "All these Tamil boys..." and then it was "All these Jat boys..." and 'Nepalis', 'Sardars' and 'Christians' and so on and so forth. Towards the fag end of adolescence I realised that Papa perhaps just did not like boys. Or boys who were my friends. It was confirmed when I heard him telling Ma, "Ei je mein, ekta jhola-pora Marxist dhore aan be... nahole tattoo-kora Panjabi ke" (This girl will either get us a jhola-clad Marxist or a tattooed Punjabi boy) When I was getting close-to-marriageable, Ma said, very concerned, "Whatever you do, don't bring us a Christian, Muslim or Sikh." I pointed out that given Papa's restrictions and now hers added to it, there wouldn't be any/ many men left to marry. I had suggested a Nigerian and a horrified mother had said, "Bachcha gulo koto kaalo hobe". (The kids will be so dark). Funny because I am bloody dark-skinned too. Back then, it was a joke.
Mishraji's Musings, Chapter 3
Have you enjoyed sex yet?
My father also had a gun (two actually, licensed) and would often say that if I got him a "bugger" he didn't like, he would use it freely. Papa never used that gun (or perhaps I was smarter). Now Mishraji does not have a gun and uses rolled newspapers for causing physical harm. However, going by the expression he has been wearing lately - it's called murderous - one has no doubts about the senior gentleman's intentions.
Pinkiji's boundaries seem to have been relaxed since the last time one wrote (for reasons why, read 'But I love Sam, Papaji!). She is now allowed to come out onto the verandah. However one suspects Pinkiji has been asked to stay away from yours truly. Each time one ventures out and if Pinkiji is there as well, Mrs Mishraji can be heard yelling, "Pinkeee, andar aao." (come inside)
Despite feeling bad that the poor girl can't even get some sun in peace, one is mighty relieved that Pinkiji has given up blasting love songs on her tape recorder. Pinkiji's musical rebellion stopped when Mishraji killed the recorder, brandishing another rolled newspaper declaring, "Why fear when your love's here, eh? Let that "love" surface anywhere near my house and I will break his legs... like this," and with that the recorder had come flying out of the window. Since then Pinkiji has found a new form of protest, albeit a silent one.
Each the time girl is out, one has seen her wearing the same nightie and going by how her hair looks progressively more disheveled, one suspects Pinkiji has decided not to bathe. One was wondering how long the girl would keep up with her dirty-till-death attack when...
"PINKI! P.I.N.K.I. COME HERE!" It was Mishraji and to say he was bellowing would be putting it mildly. One happened to be hanging out clothes for drying and couldn't help but notice that a shaking-with-anger Mishraji was holding what looked like a neatly folded note in his hand. A cowering Pinkiji came outside. Yours truly shivered too, anything to do with writing and Mishraji usually assumes it's one's doing.
"What is THIS? Was that loafer here? Has he been passing letters to you under my very nose?" Mishraji was holding out the still-folded note. Pinkiji looked instantly hopeful then quailed under her father's withering look.
"No Papaji, it's not mine... may I have a look?" Pinkiji muttered and one marveled at her courage. Her father was not impressed.
"Don't get cheeky with me. I will read this aloud and if it is THAT loafer..." with that Mishraji opened the note. Everyone waited.
"Dear Jaanu," read Mishraji, nearly choking at the 'Jaanu' (my love), "Why are you avoiding I for three days?" he read, "Me have waited. Me love you soooo much and only you. Please cum soon. Did you get earlier notes? Same place. Your rosebud, Salma." Everyone was silent.
Mishraji looked ready to explode. "Salma? Rosebud? Is that a code word?"
"No, no Papaji, this is not mine... must be bhaiyya's," blurted Pinkiji and then immediately slapped her hand to her mouth. Mishraji's eyes narrowed. (bhaiyya = older brother)
"Your older brother's? Wah. I have sired a bunch of lovers... and SALMA? Both my younger children are doing it to me together. One likes a Christian, the other a Muslim. I will not..."
At that precise moment, junior Mishraji -- 22-years-old Tinku -- strolled in wearing Calvin Klain boxers, his usually spiked hair lying flat, milk packets in hand.
"Yo, 'sup? Wus dis all about?" he asked, doing a cross between Akon and 50 Cent (rappers for those who might not know) and stopped his hand-gestures midway, his eyes going from his father's face, to his sister's hand-shutting-mouth and finally to the note in his father's hand.
"Show me your wallet," Mishraji did not waste time, "Where there is one, there will be more notes. Who is Salma?" he demanded of his son, crumpling the note in his hand.
"Salma who?" retorted Tinkuji.
"Rosebud Salma," replied Mishraji through grit teeth.
"Ah. Salma Hayek..." replied Tinkuji, suspiciously eyeing the note in Mishraji's hand.
"Salma Hayek? Is she from this colony?" demanded Mishraji.
"She is from Hollywood..." said Tinkuji, trying to be brave, "Arre Daddyji, it's a..."
"Shutup. Show me your wallet. I want to see who else is hiding in there. First Sam, now Salma," declared his father. Tinkuji made no moves to give his wallet.
"Daddyji, my wallet is my personal property and..."
"SHUTUP! As long as you stay in this house, your personal property is my personal property since I paid for it. GIVE IT TO ME." Mishraji was in no mood for repartees. Tinkuji's quota of spunk had also run out and he meekly handed his wallet over.
Mishraji shook the wallet hard and things fell out. A calendar with Ganesha's picture, a half-eaten pan masala packet, a parking ticket, some coins and... a single, condom wrapper.
Everyone looked at the fallen objects and then everyone looked at Mishraji.
He was still staring at the ground, at the condom. With excruciating slowness, Mishraji bent and picked up the condom and held it up gingerly between his thumb and forefinger. Mishraji looked as if someone had punched him in the gut.
"What is...? Where did...? You...? Since when...?" The patriarch could not get himself to say whatever he was trying to say.
"Daddyji... I can explain... it was part of class project..." stuttered Tinkuji, taking a step back from his father.
Mishraji let his arms fall by his side, his head hung, "Bas, rehne do. I trusted you," was all he said. Mrs Mishraji stepped in and gently touched her husband's elbow, her voice though was steel.
"Tinku. Answer your father: Have you enjoyed sex yet?"
Mishraji did not wait for the answer and walked back inside.
(to be continued)