This Saturday morning did not start well. About two hours earlier than I was going to wake up, Vijay opened the door to the room, managing to make just enough noise to startle me awake. And that was not good.
One thing led to another and a few hours later, we were on the verge of a major fight, led entirely by yours truly who was intent on blaming the husband for everything in the world that's wrong, including the melting of the polar ice caps. The poor man, recognising that I was in a more hormonally-inflicted state than usual, managed to keep his cool throughout, but no matter what he did, I was not calming down. This went on for a long time, well past mid-morning.
That's when he hit upon an idea.
'And another thing...' I was spewing when I noticed that he was cackling to himself.
'What is it now' I said through gritted teeth.
'Oh honey.' He smiled widely. 'I just remembered. M (Our elder nephew) is upstairs right now.'
'Okay' I growled. So? I figured M, who lives in Mumbai had arrived because it was his parent's anniversary. Vijay's sister lives two floors above us in the same apartment building, so it's all like one joint family scene some days.
'You don't understand.' Vijay protested. 'he's sitting upstairs...wearing a girls' banian. You know...'
'A camisole?' I wondered, inspite of myself. 'Why would he do that?'
'I don't know!' Vijay burst out. 'But he is. I somehow controlled myself from laughing at him. I thought you'd like to see him. You want to come up now?'
'What? That's ridiculous. Why would I want to do that?'. Ridiculous. I knew this was just an attempt to distract me from scolding him.
10 minutes later, upstairs, Vijay and I stood just outside R. Didi's flat.
'Now remember.' Vijay warned. 'You're here to wish her a happy anniversary, just like I did. We're not here to see M in his camisole.'
'Of course not,' I scoffed. 'This is silly anyway. Don't know why you dragged me here.'
The door opened and it was R.Didi. 'Happy Anniversary!' I bent down and touched her feet. My eyes scanned the flat for M. Yes, there he was in the living room reading the paper. Good.
She was delighted to see me. 'Ah Yashodhara. Perfect, we were just talking about where we should go tonight.'
I walked in further into the room, saying 'M is here? Let's see - M, hi!'
'Hello, Mami.' said my handsome young nephew, lowering the paper. I stared in disappointment and looked at Vijay. Vijay looked equally dismayed. M was wearing a pale green shirt over his shorts.
'You had a bath already?' Vijay demanded.
M looked a little taken aback 'Yeah...just had one.'
Vijay and I looked at each other while R didi peered around. Vijay mumbled. 'What was the hurry? Why couldn't you have waited a little longer? It's not even 11.'
'Er...what happened?' M asked suspiciously.
I was looking sullen. 'Nothing.'
'Yes, what is it?' chimed in Rama didi.
'Nothing, nothing.' said Vijay. 'It's just that...there was no need for him to change so quickly out of that...'
'You were wearing a girls banian and I wanted to see it!' I burst out before I knew what I was saying.
'Huh?' M looked flabbergasted.
R Didi stared at us for a moment and then began to laugh. 'Yes, that thing he was wearing? I thought so too - I wondered where he'd got that banian-i.'
'It wasn't a baniani.' M said, clearly torn between irritation and amusement. 'It was just a normal banian.'
'No, no.' Vijay protested. 'It was a spaghetti-waala-straps-waala top, the kind Y sometimes wears for Zumba.'
'Huh!' said M.
'Where is it?' I demanded.
'In the wash!' said the hapless nephew.
'Put it on and show us.'
'I'll get it.' Vijay went into the bedroom.
'I didn't bathe in there!'
'Okay, this one?' he headed to the second bedroom.
'Fine, here?' He went into the third. R Didi was now busy laughing loudly at the proceedings, while in the meantime trying to tell M that he should fetch his banian himself instead of making Vijay-Mama do it. Within a few seconds, though, Vijay was back, triumphantly holding up a white banian with dark blue border.
I examined it critically. I had to admit the straps did look the spaghetti-waala type. But otherwise...
'It doesn't REALLY look THAT much like a girl's banian.'
'You have to see him wear it.' Vijay turned to M. 'M, come on, put it on for a sec.'
'You must be joking!' M burst out and seemed to realize something. 'Wait a minute...is this why you brought Mami up?'
'Of course not.' I said piously. 'I came up to wish your parents a happy anniversary.'
'Hmmm.' said the young man, entirely unconvinced.
'Are you putting on the baniani?' I ventured.
'Where did you get this anyway?' Vijay asked, with interest. 'Is it your girlfriend's?'
'No, okay? I don't know where it came from! I got it out of P's cupboard!'
He was referring to his younger brother, our younger nephew. There was a moment of stunned silence and then R didi, Vijay and me started guffawing.
'You mean.' I gasped. 'I might walk in here one morning and see P wearing the baniani?'
Oh happy day.
None of us really had any idea why this was so funny, but somehow the prospect of seeing at least one of my strapping young nephews sitting around in a girl's banian filled my heart with glee. The day had totally turned around for Vijay and me, and we went home in an inordinately companiable manner.
Later that evening, M and P were like the rest of us, dressed all spiffily as we headed out to the celebratory dinner at the club.
I whispered to M 'I hope you didn't tell P about the baniani thing. It would ruin it if he suspects we're all waiting for him to put it on.'
'No, I didn't' he said drily. 'But I don't think it will remain a secret for long.'
'Really?' I was disappointed. 'Why?'
'Because.' he sighed. 'Pickle and Papad came up today and were shouting all over the house - we know you have a girlfriend and you wear her banian. And also her jeans. And shoes.'
Damn. I shrugged and shot a guilty look at Vijay.
NO idea where they'd picked that up from.