Here I am, with my bags in my hands, craning my neck up high to the walls of G-28, Saket, New Delhi. The shadows of the dark gate of my driveway look down upon me although with that blank yet haunting stare, they welcome me back to the lair of those two individuals who are black and white, yin and yang, grandfather and grandmother.
Although my parents are the ones who have the right to call me their son, I give an equal and privileged right to my grandparents too. Not only have they fed me and given me the same amount of pocket money, they have been my major source of entertainment in my life as well. No soap opera, comedy show or horror film matches up to these two. A few years back, I had paid them a tribute by writing about them and I had realized that they deserved a book of their own, but for now I just have another article about them. This time however, they are joined by their least favorite henchman, the side-kick, the minion, Raju, also called the servant boy of our house. Raju has had his own share of exploits, where sadly he has received the wrong end of the deal. One of them being, abandoning his city girlfriend to marry a village girl according to his families wishes only to realize on his wedding night that his wife was pregnant with somebody else’s child !
Sorry to say so but on hearing that story even my grumpy grandfather had let out a chuckle. Speaking of whom, Manohar Lal Talwar or he is cutely referred to as “Laal” by his better half, is the proud owner of this house. Although he does have a little problem with his memory from time to time, whenever he is asked about his younger days, he never forgets to mention this Russian girl he had met on a ship on his way from the USA to India. The girl had grown fond of him and had asked him to elope with her. He never really tends to remember the rest of that story or maybe he catches the eye of my Grandmother at that very instant staring down at him with a rolling pin in her hand. When it comes to the issue of food, you wouldn’t find a bigger critic than my grandfather. Dinner and lunch are the times of the day when my servant undergoes the Litmus test. Raju must remember that no food must be cooked with gravy and there should be no salt in his food. If he is to ever forget one of these principles, he would get a shouting which would sound something like:
“Yeh kaisi tari banayi hai ! Man karta hai ismein peshaab kardoon !” .
(What kind of gravy is this ? I feel like urinating in it !)
Trust me, worse things have come out of this man’s mouth.
There is only one woman in this world who can take all the words of my grandfather and mince them to zilch. She is Kamlesh Talwar or better known as ‘Tennu’. Why tennu ? Well whenever she is referred to by my grandfather, it comes out as:
“ Tennu ki lod hai bolan di” (What is the need for you to talk ?)
“ Tennu koi samajh nahi aandi” (Don’t you understand ?)
“Tennu chitti aayi hai ki bijli aane waali hai ?” (Did you get a letter saying that the electricity will return?)
Along with battling it out everyday with her better half, she also has to deal with the great Raju as well. Whenever a trip has to be made to buy some vegetables, storms rage in the kitchen to debate on the price of a pumpkin. Furthermore, my servant has a race against time to finish preparing the dinner before the beast’s belly starts to rumble which has my grandmother running after him to get done with the food on time. It is in times like these that I bring a solution by ordering a pizza and finishing the feud, even if it is only for a day. Now, when it comes to my grandmother’s daily source of entertainment, they include only two things, the first one being the late night bhajans on TV and the second one being the daily warfare with Raju. Once there came an incident that left the entire house in tatters. It was the day when a murder took plane only 4 houses away from ours. Surprisingly, Raju was considered as one of the suspects and was carried off to the police station for questioning. As soon as my grandmother realized this, tears welled up in her eyes. I considered that she would be fearing the worst for our domestic servant. Whether he was being interrogated under a 1,000 watt bulb or was he being laid on bare ice in chains. She did not wait for a verdict and called up the police station that very instant demanding to speak to our servant. I watched with pride at the philanthropist in front of me who although considered her servant as a menace, still cared about him. Much to her dismay, she was not being allowed to speak to Raju, it was then that I heard her plea to the police for releasing the innocent, noble and blameless servant of ours. It went something like this:
“I don’t care if he has killed a man or even the Prime Minister, who do you think is going to cook my dinner? Are you doing to do it? He has a family to feed here! Find me a servant who can cook dinner for me and then you can do whatever you want with him!”
With a pale and shocked expression I saw her hang up the phone and I don’t know what it was in her voice, but in less than 15 minutes, Raju was brought back from the police station. He didn’t seem to be too happy about it though, I think he preferred the prison cells better than this
Every year as the winter approaches, I see my grandfather get a hold of all the clothes in his closet and put them on. He hates the winters as much as he hates channels ‘Sanskaar’ and ‘Aastha’. It is during these times, he makes the plan of going to Goa’s sandy beaches with the crashing waves, countless shells and I’m pretty sure the bikini babes as well. Unfortunately, my grandmother always shuns the idea with the same one line “Who do you think is going to handle the house?”
I think once I’m done with my grueling days in college, I’ll make some arrangements for them and take them to Goa with me. I can even imagine my grandfather over there, running into that Russian girl, although an old woman now and my grandmother chasing him with a rolling pin as they run across the beach like Baywatch beautys!
It is only with them will I learn to live life grand. Cheers to them.