Another attempt at creative writing... Hope you enjoy.
Update May 20: A few grammatical errors edited by J [Calliopia's Canticles]
Living in a city of skyscrapers and steep rental rates really has its ups and downs. Downs most of the time. Especially when you live on the 10th floor of a newly constructed building in one of the under-developed suburbs of Mumbai with no servants or maids at your disposal. So, travelling up and down 10 stories of flats for simple requirements like eggs and soaps is extremely painful and exhausting, especially with the elevator still out of service!
And today was worse. We had guests. Lots of guests.
First of all, there was my brother-in-law and his new girlfriend, who of course didn't get along immediately with my wife. "What a slut," she whispered to me. "Ummm... yeah I know, it is so slutty to read the entertainment section of the newspaper first before reading the main news section," I whispered back in disgust.
I felt the sharp piercing pinch on my elbow. I ignored it. Two years of marriage and I still can't fathom how she always manage to pinch me at the exact same spot over and over again with laser-guided precision. Two more years of marriage and I'm sure this spot on my arm will be permanently numb.
Then there were my wife's two colleagues at the Call centre - Priyanka and Sagarika. The former is kinda rotund and large, while the latter looks more like Nicole Richie's twin. Asking if one of them has been eating up the other's food is now a clichéd joke. And calling them "Laurella and Hardyna" only invites another pinch from my wife.
The gang was also there. Subs, Nick, Sonam, Jaiswal and my cousin Mapuia. Subs, real name Subramanium, works at Indian Airlines. Nick, real name Nikhil, is a lesser known DJ here in Mumbai, struggling for recognition. Sonam is currently an intern at P&G while Jaiswal works as an event manager for "Exploxion". My cousin Mapuia is a final year student at Don Bosco Arts College and he stays with me and my wife. We all met at our local Gym a year ago and became good friends from then on.
It being a weekend, everybody came over to our new apartment. As soon as Jaiswal entered our apartment, he huffed, "Bastard... Lift." I grinned. After that Priyanka arrived. "My God, you've lost 10 pounds on your way up!" I exclaimed. Then she pinched me exactly on my wife's favorite spot! Is my wife revealing family secrets now, I wondered.
The guys were here to catch the Arsenal-Liverpool match on TV later in the evening. Priyanka and Sagarika were here because they wanted to watch a movie I'd just downloaded. Who knew "Love Story" would be a chick flick? And last but not the least, my wife's brother and his girlfriend were here to drink up all my beer from the fridge, I think.
Having guests today really sucks. First of all, the elevator is still out of service and my young cousin sprained his ankle while playing basketball last week, so that means I have to do all the running up-and-down errands for my guests. And asking my brother-in-law to do all that is hopeless, especially now that he's already locked himself up with his girlfriend inside my cousin's room.
I hate running up and down 10 flats. Not only is it tiring, today is a terribly hot and humid day. And I am also extremely forgetful.
I work for Symancos, dealing with medical transcripts. The beauty of this job is that I can work right from home through the internet, except that right now, there is no internet connection yet in our new apartment. So I have to rely on the internet cafe on the ground floor to complete my work. And whenever I go there with my detachable hard-drive and office documents, dear wife always gives me a list of things to get from the shops below - groceries, toiletries, medicines, cosmetics, etc etc. And the problem is, I always end up forgetting a couple of things!
"Here are the potatoes, onions and cabbages", I'd say. "Where's the ginger?" she'd retort. And down I go again. "Here's the ginger!" I'd exclaim. "And the washing powder?" she'd tilt her head disappointedly, like a proud father watching his son finish last at a 100 metre race on his school's Sports-day.
Once, the three of us (Me, my wife and cousin) didn't brush our teeth for two days because I forgot to buy toothpaste two consecutive times. But hey, don't tell others about that!
The worst incident though, was when I had just finished completing my daily quota of medical transcriptions from the internet cafe and was on my way up, when I suddenly remembered I had to buy a few oranges and two watermelons. I bought those and felt pretty proud about myself for remembering them.
Nobody was home that day, so I walked up slowly, like a soldier returning home from war victoriously, picturing in my mind how I'd display those fruits on the kitchen table for everybody to see. It was only when I reached my apartment that I remembered I had left my keys at the counter of the fruit stall!
And since I could not leave the fruits lying outside my door, I ran down the flight of steps again, four steps at a time, fearing that somebody might take my keys, one hand carrying the oranges with a watermelon tucked between my elbows while the other hand clutched the other watermelon with my detachable hard-drive wrapped around my other arm. It was indeed a funny sight, the neighbourhood kids later said.
Today I told myself I was not going to screw up things any more. There was a 3pm video conference appointment on the net with my immediate superior from New York. Picking up the important documents and my detachable hard-drive, I went up to our guests sitting cozily in our entertainment room.
"If you guys want anything from downstairs, tell me right now and I will go get them. I have a meeting with my boss on the net which won't take long."
"Vim. We are out of dish cleaner. Get a half litre Vim," my wife ordered.
"Mutton sandwich for me," shouted Priyanka, not daring to make any eye contact with me. "And make that with extra cheese," she meekly added.
"Beer for me, boss," Jaiswal said. "Me too," joined Sonam.
"Rum, Old Monk," Subs cried. "Sorry dude," I replied while making sure my brother-in-law was still inside Mapuia's room, "No hard drinks when Paul is in the house, you know the ground rules here."
"Bugger... ok get me beer. But make sure it is strong. Either KF Strong or Haywards 5000."
"Can you please get me a new crepe bandage from the pharmacy? This one is starting to get pretty dirty..."
"Sure thing, Mapui. Anything else, anyone?" I asked.
"Yeah, get some chips and pepsi." Nick said.
"No!" screamed my wife from the Kitchen immediately. "Dinner will be served soon. I am cooking my favorite Mizo dish for you guys and I really want all of you to enjoy it. So, no junk food for anyone now."
Everyone then looked at Priyanka, who had just ordered a sandwich. She returned our jocular stare with the One-finger salute.
"What about those two love birds inside Mapuia's room?" I asked my wife.
"A pack of condoms," Nick whispered.
"I heard that!" screamed my wife again from the Kitchen. "Maybe I'll send those condoms to Anjana’s dad, Jaiswal."
"HEY! Nick said that, not ME!" complained Jaiswal immediately.
I could hear all their laughter as I closed the door behind me. Wish I could stay behind... stupid meeting with stupid boss.
It was truly a humid day. I was already sticky and slimey by the time I reached the fifth floor. Things became much better once I reached the Cyber cafe, with the cold AC air swallowing me up like a man happily drowning in an Oasis right in the middle of a desert.
I plugged in my hard-drive and immediately opened a text document where I typed in all the things I was supposed to get. After that I logged into my Company’s website and waited for my superordinate to come online. He was on time as usual, and 20 minutes later, my work was done.
I took a look at my list again. This time, I was not going to forget anything.
Mutton sandwich with extra cheese. Check.
Ten bottles of light premium beer. Check.
Four pints of strong beer. Check.
Crepe bandages. Check.
Chips and pepsi despite my wife's prohibition. Check.
And oh, I nearly forgot the dish cleaner for the wife. Check.
Boy it felt great! This was probably the first time I ever got everything at one go. Before ascending the 10-storey flight of steps, I checked my pocket again and shook it. It jingled. Ah, my keys were there too. Good good.
So I walked up slowly. The load that I was carrying was heavy, but if it meant seeing an impressed smile upon my wife's face, it was definitely worth it.
"Yo, I'm backkk!"
I gave everybody what they ordered. Even though my wife frowned at the chips and pepsi, when she realized that I had actually remembered everything, she gave me a quick kiss on the cheeks. Yup, it was worth it.
The football match started soon, so we had to eat dinner in front of the TV. I couldn't help making a dig at Subs, who was the only person in the room with children. "See, this is the beauty of not having any children. No need to set any kind of example to the kids, like not eating in front of the TV. See the freedom we have dude..."
"Hah. We'll see." Subs scorned back.
Arsenal won the match, and we all rejoiced as usual. Subs went an extra mile by breakdacing, and Nick suggested we vote him out of our Arsenal Fan Club so as to maintain our honour and dignity.
We watched another football match again after that, but spent most of our time pulling each others' legs. By 10pm, the gang decided it was time to go home. They thanked my wife for the lovely dinner, especially the cultural delicacies, and then left our apartment.
Just as they left, Mapuia who had gone to the loo earlier, stepped into the TV room and asked, "When did Paul and his girlfriend leave???"
"They're gone?" exclaimed my wife. Nobody knew. I could already picture my wife on the phone the next day, complaining to her parents about her brother's incorrigible lifestyle. I guess we all have little black sheeps to deal with in our respective families.
With everybody gone, Priyanka asked in a dramatic tone, "NOW can we watch Love story?"
"Are you sure you really wanna watch it?" I protested. "Comon, let's watch something else, like Die Hard or ... The Ring."
"Love Story!" Priyanka and Sagarika retorted in great unison. I wondered if they had practiced that line before coming over to our place.
The missus then spoke, "Just put on the movie. You guys made us all sit through a boring..."
I stared at my wife, putting on my best theatrical performance... "Gasp!"
"Fine fine. You made us sit through an exciting football match. It was so exciting that we nearly slept. Now it's our turn, Mister-I-remembered-everything-for-once."
"Alright alright. There's no need for sarcasm." I smiled back. "But you'll all have to watch it in our bedroom on the computer."
"That's fine by us," Sagarika said. Priyanka added, "Just tell me which side of the bed do you sleep so that I can sit there and..."
"Bleh bleh bleh," I stuck out my tongue at Pri.
"Move on to the computer then," I told them. "I'll have to copy the movie to the computer because it is still in my detachable hard-dri..."