HE SAID.SHE SAID.
Updated: May 14, 2019
When the wrung out hands of the clock chime 4 PM at Telly TV – a television station that churned out soaps for the weepy hearted , we can see a fleet of manicured feet making their way over to the corner table. This was the time for their daily evening soiree –the plum time where carefully arched eyebrows took you in - nails, facial hair and your wardrobe given the once over. Five minutes before the daily soiree, I caught you by the mirror of the restroom, your pink beefy hands caressing your butt , your full lips curled in a pout. You narrowed your eyes scrutinising your 87 kilos , taking in the show stopper –the butt that was now safely encased in linen , arched one eyebrow and then patted your shirt back in place. In five minutes you will be in the thick of the discussion , placing your voluminous behind on the table n guffawing away , mostly at my flabby sides.
I make my way cautiously to the soiree , making it look like my sallow skinned flabby self did not matter to me.. I tucked my yellow shirt in place and broke into a trot, wishing I could preen across the floor like you. I was greeted in jest.. ’here comes our final aunty… look at your paunch ,where’s your diet gone ’… you said.. The other ‘aunties’ chipped in with guffaws but you- the hottest aunty on the block were on a roll.. where have you been? Shopping away at jabong or planning a kitty party like the protagonist of your show?... I pretended to brush them away though I was seething inside… how did you know I was covertly surfing for those stockings at jabong.. I perched my not-s0-graceful behind on the side of the cubicle n let your cynical gaze wash over me… I looked at the four others , the aunties gang who made this evening sorority ! I averted my eyes when your gaze met mine , n felt the blush smudge across my face. When you look at me with those disdainful eyes, I find myself opening like a rose ready to be deflowered.
To shake my thoughts away , I gaze at the rest of them and at all of us who are the life n soul of this workplace.
There was Amay, the thirty five year old father of a baby- head ‘aunty’, then there was Sanjay , a henpecked ‘aunty’ we use as a doormat because he never had the balls to say no , then there’s you Manish , the queen bee since you’re the fairest of us all with a butt that can put Baby doll to shame and then there’s me Aditya , the underdog aunty who is smitten by you. This made the four of us, four of us men clad in corporate whites and well trimmed hair with our tough exteriors , but aunties on the inside, who crave to drape a shawl , flick our hair back n totter around like them all. I look at Manish , in all his manliness, dressed in chinos that made his butt ripple n a shirt that stretched across his shoulders throw me a look of disgust . I chocked back a groan of longing n then slipped my bulky frame of the cubicle n sauntered off muttering . catcalls and laughter tailed me, Manish’s being the loudest
Creaking open the rickety door to the shackled one roomed apartment , Mumbaikers lovingly call a studio apartment, I struggled his way in and dump the shopping bags I’d packed away for that evening on the carpeted floor. For a successful professional that I am, I definitely needed a door man, i mumbled shaking my head wisely…But in Mumbai city where one packs houses neatly one atop the other like matchsticks, forget a doorman , a door alone was a luxury. I tut loudly kicking off my shows and survey the sulking greenish walls of my ‘studio’ knitting my brows.
My maid , a portly woman with a toothbrush moustache that twitched when she scowled , and looked down upon me despite the pearls of wisdom I regularly doled out to her every Wednesday shot me a look as she traipsed up the cobbled stairs and skulked into the kitchenette. Obviously she has not taken well to the successful professional I’d become in the last years she’d worked for me. “Inferiority complex”. I mutter nodding to myself sagely… of course she couldn’t see the successful journey I’d made in the last 10 years of his life! So what if I was a spinster at 35! I had clocked in 9 hours every day for the last 9 years in the same company , crawling my way up the corporate ladder…well, I worked in India’s biggest show biz network and had changed the face of a GEC soap opera … the average Indian looked down upon Indian soaps because of its crass drama! Strange , I muse , puckering my well practised pout , that despite my show about two evil sisters out to get at each others throat- a unique template I’d thought up , peppered with nuances from storytelling styles I ’d googled off Polanski’s Wikipedia sites had just completed its 400th episode and the average Indian man had the mediocrity to call them brain dead!
To be honest I finds offbeat films strange n longwinded.. why would anyone watch a film that has no sense of kitchen politics of family drama? .. i can never get the hang of the plot and by the time the conflict comes around, I’ve found resolution in my pillow… yet i believe in following the works of these film makers intently-reading their IMDB and Wikipedia pages from end to end…
Just like the other night when I’d fallen asleep over Nebraska – which i had to boast over as it was the new talk of town- bet the aunties at work had never set their eyes on that film - . i’d however done his homework on the film – crammed up every page devoted to it and memorized the critic’s views too… the final touch was a post on facebook declaring my views- which I’d carefully crafted from three expert reviews which received a whooping 24 likes! Yes, i worked very hard..hard indeed to live up to the ‘intellect’ tag my colleagues grudgingly tagged me.
Get me my mug of chai , with a dash of lime , and on an afterthought, run down n get some samosas too , i bark to my maid … she gave me ‘the look’ and disappeared. i settled on his cushiony sofa, the one with the sequinned foot board in the colour i most favoured and surveyed the walls of my ‘room’. It was a joke at work why i never got anyone home.. well, i had my reasons. For one i loved my little fetish of draping my windows in sheer pink lace- yeah my girly side! … i also had a penchant for downy cushions and feathery eiderdown which by all means would receive hoots of laughter from my mediocre colleagues. To top it off, my cat- Meow would attract stories about me that involved spinsters growing old with a cat – the ‘old woman with a cat’ joke needs to be killed he snarls . Meow sat on the footboard sunning herself, her bottlebrush tail held high.. i lazily scratched her ears and pondered irritably… Living each day in the city seeking answers and getting itchy in one’s skin is a task , i suddenly exclaim! . On a sudden impulse, i called down to the maid to leave the chai by the door and call it a day!..i had to retire, i told her. Right on cue, she left.
i hotfoot over to the cupboard and fling it open surveying it… flipping aside the crisp fab India kurta’s and formals i colour coded to work, i take out my pink robe. I lovingly caress the soft satiny fabric of the robe , and begins peeling my clothes off. Off comes the trousers, a little cosy around my assets – my buttocks, off comes the striped shirt and everything that pads them up.
i swath the satin pink robe around myself , knots the ribbon around my rather large person and crept to the mirror cautiously. What I see in the mirror does not please me. Tutting irritably, I pull out my heart shaped jewellery box and quickly take out the silver danglers that nestles in the box and clips them to my ears.
A necklace with a teardrop pendant i had bought myself on my 32nd birthday i lovingly swath around my throat… rubbing a manicured hand irritably through my short wiry crop, i rummage among business suits for the last hanger and find my curls –Two bobby pins on either side of my head does the trick and i feel the bounce of the long tresses tickling my hefty frame.
A dash of blush and a thick coat of cherry blossom- my favourite lippy later , Manish Dutta, the thirty five year old eligible pseudo- intellectual bachelor of Telly TV Mumbai and the constant object of averted gazes n subtle pick -up lines in the aunty sorority stood in front of his floor length mirror, in his satin pink robe that showed off most of his waxed legs and a pink pout that matched his robe, feeling like himself again after a long day’s work!
His pedicured feet now devoid of the socks and shoes that kept them captive all day made their way to the make shift carpet by the hall, and he lowers himself on to the shag rug, n lay face up, his fingers lightly caressing his frame- teasing himself tantalisingly … rain pelts at his stained windows and the sky has turned a deep Prussian blue.
The evening was just right to lie in a pair of strong manly arms and feel his body be spooned and feel like the women in the lingerie ads i surreptitiously googled when my delirious junior was not scurrying around him gasping to be taught the ropes of the profession ..his thoughts begin to stray… stray on a specific sallow complexion with a smattering of freckles and flab that bounced off the sides of that bulky frame whom he regularly turned my nose down at , an act of deliberation so as to not tell tales .
Manish quivers in excitement and on a sudden impulse, goes across the landing to flat number 2 B… he rings the bell and runs his left leg across his bare thighs, to calm his heartbeat. The door opens and there he stands in the frame , looking like he’d just stepped into the house- his premature salt n pepper hair is rumpled and he looks like he could use a long hot shower – and a companion . He sees the resident’s jaw drop when he takes him in , swathed only in a satin robe, with auburn curls pelting down to the chest and holding back a gasp. Manish pushes past him and flounce into the den and drawl in his ‘polished’ manner… ‘ what’s up fat aunty, still not fighting your belly?’
He brushes the recipient’s mumbo jumbo of words aside with a finger and makes a well practised pout at the muse, puckering his lips and jutting out the hips, like the women in his office.. The reaction was instant and gratifying .
I, Manish prances across to my prey slowly , and preen before him throwing back my chest , toes drawing circles on the floor , waiting…praying.. Aditya Kashyap, the sallow skinned, flabby , ‘ugly aunty’ and sworn enemy at work stands still like a rabbit caught in the lights. I do not give up. The rabbit is treated to the liberty of unravelling the ribbon around the satin robe , and a full fledged blast of my waxed body . Aditya choked back a groan and took me in his hairy arms and the night dissolves into a riot of colours.
AND HE SAID
The clock turned 4 and I was at the restroom my eyes eyeing the particularly fresh red blotch on my neck … I close my eyes remembering those teeth knowing at them while his fingers worked their magic. I rubbed a trail over them and then surveyed myself in the mirror. Aditya Kashyap ,the 27 year old spinster who wished he was a fat aunty in real and not a man with a receding bachelorhood and matrimony hanging like a noose over him . He wished he could drape himself in those pretty saris instead of having to submit his body to menswear that the Universe commanded him. He wished he could laugh openly with the soap operas and weep with the women instead of pretending to laugh at them. He wished with all his might that the jibes of his other fellow ‘aunties’ took roots some day and he joined their clan too.
The flush of the loo jerked me out of the pink satiny reverie n there he stood in his starched shirt n linen trousers hefting up his belt to accommodate his rather XXL behind.. he looks at me and I avert my eyes –a practise of well hidden lust shrouded by disdain… He takes a step closer to the door n on an afterthought drawled in manly jest, “hey aunty still not fighting that tummy?” chuckling to himself he made his way out ... Aditya waited with bated breath. The last of Manish’s bulky behind bobbed along in a silent goodbye and was out of sight. Aditya released his pent up breath as the door swung shut behind him.