It was again one of those lazy
Sundays where I had put my foot down and refused to move out of the cozy
corners of my sweet home. It was pouring out there on this rainy Sunday and I
was longing for the “Garam Chaai” and the “Garmaa-Garam Pakodaas” that my wife
would have otherwise lovingly made for me, a decade back.
There was no love lost with my wife,
but some gains for me that had prompted her to take the extreme decision of
“No-Pakoraas” for me since the last couple of years. The unfortunate situation
of my age crossing 40 and I gaining some good amount of clout along my waist
since then, were the culprits. Honestly, both of these situations were natural
and I did not have any part to play in it, but was made the scapegoat and pay
the price for it.
Women are great Inventors and my wife
was no exception. She had already chalked out other methods of keeping me busy.
It was only on the previous Sunday,
one of the few occasions, when I ran out of excuses and I was pulled up from
bed just before noon by my wife and daughters, dragged to the garage, made to
start the car and before I could realize, how big a trouble I was into, I was
already inside the mall which displayed huge signs of “Off-season Sale”. The
signs were all over, and you could just not avoid them, as if they were
purposely hung there to tease me and the several other husband-fathers like me
moving around there with their hung faces.
Moving around with them like the
baggage trolley, my both hands full with the stuff that they were mercilessly
picking up from all across, I too was once in a while rewarded with some shirts
and T-shirts, which my wife and daughters, decided that I would look “cool” in.
A sort of “Baksheesh” for the chauffer for having carted them there. It was
quite late before I realized that the “Baksheesh” was not even a decent
percentage of the total amount I had to shell out that evening.
The definitions of “cool” and “hot”
have completely changed since when I was made to mug up their meanings in my
I had just dumped the new dresses in
my wardrobe that evening and during the whole week had not even the slightest
time to try them out in front of our dressing mirror to arrive at my own
decision whether I really looked “cool” in them.
My wife’s plan for that Sunday was to
make me clear my wardrobe of all the old stuff, which I had not worn for ages,
since I gained those extra inches. I religiously agreed, knowing fully well
that this option would be far better than any other alternate plans that she
may have on her mind, provided I refused to do this.
I stood in front of my wardrobe and
as I was removing some apparels, I lay my hand on a shirt, which I did not even
remember having worn. It looked as good as new but for reason probably that I
did not look “cool” in it, I had not worn it much.
I took it out and thought out trying
it on and as my hands went across its pocket and I felt a piece of paper
inside. I put my fingers inside and pulled out which was LO & BEHOLD – A
FIVE HUNDRED RUPEES NOTE.
I was at my wit’s end. From where did
this money come from? How could it escape my attention for so long? What could
be a plausible explanation for this windfall? Had I declared the same in my tax
returns? What if the taxmen come to know of this? All sorts of questions
started running through my mind.
Scared like hell, I yelled at my wife
for help. I could hear the clanging of utensils in the kitchen as I saw my
better half charging down like a bull. I was already on my knees and my
palpitations had increased by the time she was next to me desperately trying to
decipher the situation since I was just kneeling there with my mouth wide open
and no words coming out of it.
It was some moment, which seemed like
years to me, before I could grasp a breath and wife could heave a sigh of
relief. I narrated the story to my wife with the earnest hope of getting some
input from her.
We are living on a fixed source of
income and have our monthly budget planned well in advance. However, like our
Union Government, we normally end up with a fiscal deficit, which fortunately
is not to be met out of borrowings but by way of reduction in the expenses,
unlike the Union Government.
A Rs.500/- note going unnoticed for
such a long time clearly indicated a complete failure of the planning
mechanism, I opined. However, this contention would not cut ice with, my wife,
the planning commission Chairperson.
Enquiry began almost immediately and
I was now facing my wife in the interrogation room and was being bombarded with
a plethora of questions. The questions were certainly biased, she being very
sure and absolutely confident that nothing has gone amiss in her planning, but
I had some undeclared income. I felt being hounded by the interrogator as if I
was being funded by the “underworld”.
It was not very late before I
realized that there is no way I could prove my innocence and all evidence,
circumstantial and direct, were totally against me. The only way to finish of
the interrogation session was to admit.
As my wife branded me as earning
“black-money”, honestly, I felt privileged and my heart puffed with pride.
I was in the August Company of our country’s elite class.