We’re like that only

I had to walk past a busy narrow lane to college from the bustop. Invariably I would pass a quarrelling couple and a small crowd around them. Giving them a wide berth I literally used to run to my college, with my heart thudding.

The scene would haunt me for the whole day.

A part of me would feel guilty for running away. Maybe I should have stopped and given a piece of my mind to that man. Or called the police. But when the next time I saw a similar scene, I used to get terrified of the drunken man and my legs would automatically carry me as fast as they could away from the scene.

I used to berate myself for being a coward.

Anyway, this was years and years ago.

*****************

We were having dinner the other night. Our relative peace was shattered by some yelling and screaming. I peeped out of the kitchen window.

The backyards of my building and the house behind us share the same wall. The new live-in watchman of that house was standing in his kitchen and screaming his head off at his wife.

I rushed back to the dining room. “Do something!” I told my husband. “What?” He asked in annoyance. “I don’t want to interfere in his family business.”

By now the screaming was louder and it totally unnerved me. I climbed on to my kitchen counter and opened the window wider. My son who was super excited with all this, scrambled to climb up beside me. I could distinctly hear some thuds. He was beating her up! That did it. I wanted to make up for all the time I had run away from similar scenes.

“Helloooo!!!’ I screamed. My voice was not loud enough. Clearing my throat, I tried again. “Who’s making all this noise?? Don’t you have any sense beating up a woman like that?” By now my voice had become a pathetic squeak. My son literally fell off the counter laughing.

Suddenly a strong pair of hand lifted him off the counter. “HEY!!!” roared a booming voice, right next to my ear, almost making me deaf. My husband! He couldn’t bear to watch me squeaking and making a fool of myself, so he had decided to help. My God!!! All these years, I had no clue my husband had swallowed a loud speaker when he was a baby!

His booming voice bounced off the walls around and reverberated everywhere. “Who are all you people? If I hear one more word from you, I swear I’ll call the police!” He thundered.

The startled watchman looked up. “Sorry, sir…” he mumbled and slunk away. I flashed a grateful smile at my husband, though my insides were quaking. Both of us went back to the dining table, a bit shaken by the incident.

My son was huddled in his chair like a mouse. His face was pinched and was trying hard not to cry. “What happened?” I asked him. He looked at my husband. “Appa… ” He  began with a quavering voice. “You scared me when you screamed like that…  don’t ever do that again…”

After a bit of consoling and cajoling, he was his normal self again.

My husband glared at me. ‘All because of you’ He mouthed.

Later, I got a lecture on how I should not go around yelling at people from my window. “Did anyone else bother? Who are they to you? You had to climb on that counter like a monkey and make a fool of yourself!’

I was so mad. “I just can’t watch a man beating up his wife in front of me!”

“Then shut your window. Meet the owner of the house and complain about this. There is absolutely no need for you to deal with a drunken watchman!”

I sulked for a bit and thought that was the end of the story.

A few nights later, I was frantically getting my son to sleep when the same noises came from outside. Since my husband was traveling, I decided to ignore it. Soon my son was fast asleep and I went back to the book I was reading. The noise got too loud for me to concentrate and the language he was using was so terrible. He seems to be getting worse by the minute.

Throwing caution to the wind, I opened my curtains and screamed my squeakiest best. “Can’t you see people are trying to sleep? We’ve already warned you once. Shall I call the cops?” This time the wife looked up. “Please do Madam. I cannot take this torture!” She then turned to her husband and screamed in full volume about how uncouth he was, disturbing the peace in decent people’s neighborhood and so on.

She looked up at my window again and yelled at my direction, “Call the police Madam! I don’t care if they arrest my husband!”

I so didn’t want to get sucked into their brawl. So I went back to bed and switched off the lights, signaling the end of my participation.

The next morning I asked my friend who lives in my building if she gets disturbed by the nightly fighting. She seemed clueless since her flat was on the front side of the building.

She promised to send her driver to warn the offender. If that does not work, she promised to accompany me to meet the owner of that house.

Later my maid told me that she went over with my friend’s driver and issued a stern warning to the watchman. She assured me that he’d behave himself.

Later that evening I got another earful from my husband when he called. “Keep all the doors locked, just in case,” he warned me. “I really wish you had some good sense to keep out of such things…” He added wearily.

The next few days were peaceful… I had almost forgotten the watchman.

It started again last night. His high-pitch voice came floating up the window. Followed by his wife’s loud retorts.

I thought for a minute. Then did the sensible thing. Opened the curtains and shut the window.

But at least I tried this time.

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Happy 2011!

I spent the New years with a close set of friends and as we all sat around talking, the topic of New Year’s resolutions came up. A friend promptly took over the role of Emcee and went around with an imaginary mike in his hands, asking each of us to say a few words about our respective resolutions.

The scene took me back years ago to a similar setting. I had just landed a job in an ad agency as a trainee, and was invited to a New Year’s party at my immediate boss’s house.

It was so impromptu that it took my strict tam-brahm parents totally by surprise. Here I was, lounging in front of the TV sipping my cuppa after a hard day’s work and someone screamed my name.

I dragged myself to the verandah to see a colleague on his scooter. “Hey! Come on! N asked me to pick you up for a party at her place!” He said with great urgency. He spotted my dad peeping from the drawing room. “Uncle!” He screamed above the roar of his scooter. “I’m here to collect your daughter to a party in our boss’s house, in T” (It was hardly 3 minutes from my place) He said in pukka tam-brahm tamil. Before my baffled parents could respond I was off with him with a hurried goodbye.

Though she was my boss, she was hardly a few years older to me and I learnt that the New Year’s party was an annual affair at her place with full family in attendance with a few close friends too.

The party was great fun.  My friend’s super stylish older sister and her husband danced away to some fast numbers with their small sons.  Her dad was a great sport and was pottering around with the music. Her mom made sure she fed us at regular intervals. They had one more couple over other than my office crowd.

At midnight my friend ran to her garden, took out a list of her New Year wishes and set fire to it. Apparently that’s a tradition she’s been following it deligently since childhood.

I don’t remember much else from that night except me with 2 more female colleagues who opted to stay over, retired in a cosy bedroom upstairs and talked the rest of the night away.(the colleague with the scooter preferred riding back all the way back home which was literally at the other end of town)

Did N’s dreams come true that year? I never found out since I quit the job in a couple of months, but I’ve kept in touch with her through the years and she seems to have a happy contended life, so I guess they did.

Personally I never believed in making resolutions every year. I do make my resolutions from time to time, but they don’t seem to co incide with December- January. Its scary to make rules for myself which I have to follow one whole year!

So on that aforementioned evening, when it was my turn to announce my resolutions, I said ” My resolution is not to have any.”

But since I’m getting too much flak from my family & friends on my lethargy & general shabbiness, I’ve decided to make one resolution a day & make sure I follow it through. And today’s was “Post something on my blog!”

So here it is, folks!

A very very Happy 2011 to everyone! ( I know I’m late, but my next resolution is to work on my lethargy!)