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Mumbai (then called Bombay)
Circa – 1970’s
Nisha had “friend-zoned” me.
I was desperately in love with Nisha – but – Nisha had clearly defined the parameters of our relationship.
Once – when I tried to get close to her – Nisha told me categorically that she enjoyed my friendship – but – she did not want any romantic or sexual relationship with me.
I was romantically attracted to Nisha.
But – for her – I was just a friend – a buddy.
Nisha had “friend-zoned” me – and – I had accepted it – because – I desired her company – and – I had a glimmer of hope – that one day – she may reciprocate my love.
Dear Reader – when this story happened – 45 years ago – in the 1970’s – I didn’t know the term “friend-zoned”.
“Friend-Zoned” is the opposite of “Friends with Benefits”.
Between Nisha and Me – it was a pure platonic non-sexual friendship – without any amorous or carnal “benefits”.
It was a one-way “friend-zoning”.
Nisha had “friend-zoned” me – but – I very much had a romantic and sexual interest in her – and – I hoped that one day she would “un-friendzone” me – and – I would be able to make love to her – even marry her.
In the early days of our friendship – I did try to get amorous with her – but – she would politely demur and decline my advances.
Once – while we were sitting on the parapet on Marine Drive after the sun had set – I was overcome by passionate desire and I tried to kiss her – but – she pushed me away and broke in to tears – and said to me: “If you try this again – I will never meet you ever – for the rest of my life…”
“But why…?” I said, “I really love you…”
“If you really love me then listen to me…” she said, “you are the only true friend I have – and I want our friendship to remain forever…”
“Yes – we will always be friends – let’s have a more “intimate” friendship…” I was saying – when she interrupted me.
“No…” she said, ““Sex is the easiest way to ruin a friendship…”
“I don’t understand the logic in what you say…” I said, “I thought sex would cement our friendship…”
She smiled at me – and – she patted me on my cheek.
“You are such a simple boy – I am sure I am the first girlfriend in your life – that’s why you seem so confused – I have plenty of experience in this – you take my word for it – the easiest way to ruin a good friendship is to have sex…” she said to me, “trust me – let’s keep sex out of your relationship – if we keep our friendship at the platonic level – it will be a happy and everlasting friendship…”
So – Nisha and Me – we became platonic friends – and – though I yearned for her – I never made romantic advances towards her again.
Story to be continued in Part 2
The “Tomboy” : Part 3
THE “TOMBOY” – PART 3
My husband nods at her – and – he goes into his room to dry up and change his wet clothes.
The girl – Tanya – she looks at me – and she says to me: “Aunty – please make some Tea – Rohan tells me that you make lovely “Masala Chai” – and – make something to eat also – I am feeling hungry…”
I am aghast at her behaviour.
But – I don’t want to talk to this impertinent girl – so – I go into the kitchen – and – start making Tea – and – I take out the pan to make some Pohe…”
A few minutes later – my husband comes into the kitchen and asks me: “Who is this girl…?
“She says that she is Rohan’s fiancée – they are going to get married…” I say to my husband.
“What nonsense…!!!” my husband exclaims in surprise, “have you to spoken to Rohan…?”
“I tried – his phone is switched off – like he does at work – he should see my missed call and call back at lunch time…” I say to my husband.
“What about the girl…? Why has she some here…?” he asks me.
“You go out and tell her to get out of the house…” I say to my husband.
“Let’s go out and speak to her – let’s she what she has to say…?” my husband says.
I put 3 cups of tea and 3 plates of Pohe on a tray.
My husband picks up the tray, carries it out and places it on the table in front of the girl called “Tanya”.
I follow my husband and sit on a chair in front of Tanya.
Tanya picks up a plate of Pohe – eats a spoonful – and says to me: “It’s delicious – you are such a good cook – Rohan always tells me you make such lovely food…”
I seethe with anger at her impudence – how dare she make such condescending remarks…!!!
I can’t control myself any longer – so – I shout at the girl.
“Do you think I am your servant…?” I say angrily to her.
“No, Aunty…” she says, flummoxed, “why do you think that…?”
“You don’t bother to come and help me in the kitchen – you sit here like a “Maharani” – and – you comment that the food is “good” – as if you are a customer in a restaurant…” I say to her, indignantly.
“I am sorry, Aunty…” she says – I can see tears forming in her eyes.
My husband interrupts.
“Tell me – why have you come here…?” my husband asks her.
“I have come to take your permission to get married to your son, Rohan…” the girl says.
“Well – Rohan hasn’t told us anything about you – and – why hasn’t he come with you…?” my husband asks.
“He is afraid of you…” the girl says to my husband.
“Afraid of me…?” my husband says, surprised.
“Yes, Uncle – he ss terrified of you – the way he painted the picture – as if you were an autocratic tyrant – even – I felt scared…” the girl says to my husband.
I feel totally appalled – so – I say to the girl: My husband – a tyrant…? What nonsense…!!! Would I have been living with my him for 30 years if he were a tyrant…? Yes – he is strict and very old-fashioned – but he is a good man…”
“I am sorry, Aunty…” the girl says to me.
Then she looks at my husband and says: “Rohan told me you both are conservative people. He said that you would never agree to our marriage. So – he wanted us to elope and get married…”
“Elope…?” my husband says, angrily.
“I think I mentioned it to Aunty…” the girl says.
“Are you threatening to elope…? Are you trying to blackmail us…?” my husband shouts at the girl, “go ahead and elope – you are both adults – do as you please…”
“No. No. Uncle. I feel that marriage must begin on a good note. I don’t want your ill feelings – I want your blessings – so – I told him that I will marry him only if you give permission…” the girl says to my husband.
“And – if we don’t agree…?” my husband asks her.
“I will leave him and go away. I have had no happy relationships in my life – this is the first one – and – I want it to begin in a happy note – not on a bitter note by annoying you – I want your love and blessings – not your hate and curses…”” the girls says to my husband – and – she looks at me too.
I can see my husband softening.
I fear the worst.
This “tomboyish” uncultured girl called “Tanya” – she is nowhere near the image of the ideal daughter-in-law that I wanted. In fact – I had already started looking for prospective brides for my son. And now – my dreams will be dashed – if my husband “melts”.
I decide to call a spade a spade – and make things clear to this cheeky girl.
I look at the girl – and – I say to her: “You – listen to me carefully. You have no manners, no culture, no upbringing – you barge into our house unannounced and behave in a most rude manner – we should have thrown you out – but – we are cultured people…”
“Yes, Aunty…” she says, looking contrite.
“What “Yes Aunty…” I say angrily, “you want to marry our son – you want to be our daughter-in-law – you should have shown us some respect – though we don’t expect you to touch our feet as is the normal practice when one meets elders…”
“I am sorry, Aunty – I didn’t know…” the girl says.
“It is not your fault – you have not been raised properly…” I say to her.
“I am sorry, Aunty – I am very sorry if I have behaved improperly…” she says, apologetically.
“That’s okay – but – it is not proper for a girl to barge into her prospective in-laws house as ask them permission to marry their son – you ask your parents to come over and talk to us…” I say to her.
“I have no parents…” she says.
“What do you mean “you have no parents”…?” I ask her.
“I am an orphan – I don’t have any parents – both of them died in an accident when I was 6 years old – and I was sent to a boarding school – my whole life I have lived in hostels – I have never lived in a family – now – if you agree to our marriage – I will live with you – and you will be my parents – my first and only parents – and I will learn from you – manners, how to live in a family, culture, values – whatever you want to teach me...” the girl says – and she breaks into tears.
On hearing her words – I am filled with remorse and pity for this girl.
I walk towards her – I take her in my arms.
She sobs – her wet nose touches my neck.
I console her.
“Don’t cry, Tanya – we are your parents from now on…” I say to her.
“Thank you, mother…” she says to me.
Then she looks at my husband.
My husband says her: “Go and freshen up – we are going out…”
“Going out…?” she asks, confused.
“Yes – we are going to the Marriage Registrar’s Office…” he says to her.
“Marriage Registrar…?” she asks him, looking confused.
My husband looks at her and smiles.
“Yes – let’s go to the Marriage Registrar’s Office – we will come with you and submit the form together…” he says to Tanya, “the notice for your intended marriage…”
My husband looks at me and says: “Come on, get ready…”
Then – my husband looks at his watch and remarks: “I think it’s almost lunch break for Rohan – his mobile phone should be “on” now…”
“Yes, Uncle – I will check…” Tanya says.
“You tell your fiancé Rohan take the rest of the day off – we will pick him up from his office…” my husband roars, “he has a lot of explaining to do…”
MIXED FRIED RICE AND AMERICAN CHOPSUEY
MY FAVOURITE “CHINESE” FOOD
FOOD MEMORIES By VIKRAM KARVE
|Mixed Fried Rice and American Chopsuey|
|Mixed Fried Rice and American Chopsuey|