Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Flirting with friendship: Attitude Adjustments

Chapter 9: Attitude Adjustments

I was living in a world of my own where I thought everything I ever had was all as easy as writing prose and poetry. The day I fall sick and let myself be dependent on my mother even for getting a glass of water, is the worst of all times. Sakshi also did everything she could and brought me back to my normal self. After a long list of unworthy link-ups and break-ups I had, Sakshi is the one who has been an ideal girl in my life. To mention a few criterion points, (a) She madly loves me and does everything to make me happy. (b) Our horoscopes match. (c) She’s of the same caste (very much necessary for my family) and many others like these.
“Abhi. It’s been a long time we haven’t been to Murudeshwar. Shall we go next week?” Sakshi asked while we all were having lunch.
Murudeshwar is a beach town, one of the Jyotirlings and the place that has been very special to me. The 123-feet tall Shiva statue is world’s second tallest Shiva statue, bathed in silver paint, made of concrete. It graciously stares away from the Arabian Sea while the Jyotirling situated adjacent to the statue poses a majestic 20-storeyed 237-feet tall gopuram known as the Raja gopura, to welcome the devotees. The town has been in the safe hands of a visionary businessman R. N. Shetty and he’s been taking care of the architectural marvels.
Our family has been going there since the statue and the gopura were not even existent. I readily agreed to go there and that would also bring some change from the mundane life.
“Ask your father.” Mom said before expressing her consent.
“Dad is always ready to go to such places.” I said with a smile.
“Call him and confirm first.” She demanded.
“Alright. I will.” I replied. I picked up my phone and speed dialled his number from my phone.
“Appa. Next week. Murudeshwar.” I just talked in keywords just like he’d do.
“Okay. Book a cab. Fix the plan.” He responded in his not-so Da Vinci codes. Though dad is retired, he always keeps travelling from Bangalore to his village for some work or the other. My mom was upset with his work life and wished he’d retire soon, but now post-retirement, he hardly rests. She now wished he was better off at work.
“Mom. He’s in.” I gave a ‘thumbs up’ from dad’s side and mom was already in.
“Sakshi. All yours.” I handed over the phone, pen and paper to make further plans.
“Can I ask Shrushti also to join us?” She asked softly if we were fine with it. “If you don’t mind” she added.
“Of course Sakshi, but ask her first if she’d mind.” I rebounded to her request.
Sakshi quickly called Shrushti and went in the bedroom to talk privately. After few minutes, Sakshi came out and said, “Shrushti is in.”
“Anyone else is joining?” she asked if she had any more calls to make.
“Do you mind if I called Vikram and Anusha?” I asked Sakshi.
“By all means love.” She winked and handed over the phone back to me. It seemed like we were playing ping pong with my second hand Nokia E72. I quickly called up Vikram and I went in the bedroom this time to talk with my friend.
“Vikkya. Next week we’re going to Murudeshwar. You and Anusha are coming. Tell me you are coming.” I didn’t offer him any choice.
“Hey. I won’t be able to make it, but I’ll make sure Anusha is there.” He said that much and hung up as he was busy at work.
“Vikram won’t come, but Anusha will.” I informed Sakshi while she made a list of people who were in. She started counting; “You, me, Amma, Appa, Shrushti and Anusha. 6 of us right?
“Yes.” I nodded.
“A Tavera would do then. I’ll call my friend Naveen.” She called up her colleague from work. Naveen was her best friend at work who had a slight crush on Sakshi. He stopped caring about her with love and connubial care just because Sakshi fell in love with me. Sakshi still considered him as a good friend and he too preferred to keep it to friendship. She fixed up a cab and breathed a sigh of huge relief.
“Ufff... Everything is booked.” She said throwing herself on the bean bag.
“Sakshi Madam.” I interrupted her peaceful break.
“Didn’t you forget something?” I asked with a faint frown.
“Oh! No.. The resort booking.” She remembered.
“I have to wait for Appa.” She said. Dad had most of the contacts of the resort guys as he used to book the tickets before.
Later in the evening when dad came home, all of a sudden he came and hugged me. He kissed my cheeks and his short spiky beard poked me in its own way.
“What happened dad?” I asked in a surprise.
“Nothing.” He said casually returning to his usual newspaper reading, as if nothing happened.
“Will you tell now? Or I’ll call Anand Uncle?” I said.
Anand Purohit is my maternal uncle and a very famous psychiatrist. He has achieved innumerable awards and accolades which exceeds his reputation and yet he lives a normal life not flaunting much of his status quo on friends or relatives.
“I needed a break anyway.” His attention was undivided from reading the newspaper. “Thanks for planning this out.” He said.
“Thank Sakshi for this.” I replied. “It was her plan, not mine.”
“SAKSHI!” he called her out.
“Yes Appa.” She came running from the bedroom thinking that she’d get a dose of sarcastic scolding from dad thinking she missed out on something.
“Get me a filter coffee putta.” He slyly made a request. Sakshi always missed her dad and she found him reborn in my dad. Though my dad was softer, sweeter and strict, he never showed it.
“Get my diary from my table drawer too.” He slowly added another request.
After a long-scroll of 15 minutes into his foam-leather phonebook, he finally found the contact number of the person from Murudeshwar Resorts. He pulled out his cellphone and started dialling the numbers one after the other simultaneously looking into the diary. The keypad beep was on and with every hit; the beep played its own tune. My dad always preferred to use a basic model cellphone and never bothered to change the keypad settings.
“Haan... Hello Hegde sahebre.” He started his conversation with his age old colleague from Sirsi.
Sirsi is the largest city in North Kanara and is surrounded by lush green forests and innumerable waterfalls. We were lucky to spend two years in that city as my dad used to get transferred frequently due to his job. The large number of encroachment matters was the most controversial news during 2001-02 and my father was the person responsible to vigilantly eliminate all the encroachers and serve justice to the people and to his job. That was the time when I felt really proud of him and considered him as my role model. Public service was his purpose of life and he still loves to do that post-retirement. Now his job is; finding alliances for the unmarried children of his relatives and friends, matching horoscopes and attending their weddings. Apart from the personal charity work like this, he also does great deal of voluntary service to his currently serving colleagues.
Getting back to his conversation, he called up his friend and booked 2 rooms for six of us.
“Learn something from your father.” Sakshi mocked me while I was sitting beside him watching another newspaper.
“Oh! Yeah! Let me show you something I learnt from him...” I put down the newspaper and chased her till the living room and caught hold of her hands and locked her arms from behind. I brushed my unshaved chin on her cheeks, but didn’t kiss her like my dad kissed me today. She felt extremely tickled and she shrieked playfully.
“Abhi. Stop it. Amma and Appa are here.” She started corkscrewing her head away from my chin.
“Ammaa... Appaaaa....” I loudly called them out. None of them responded. Dad was busy reading and mom was busy cooking.
“See. Nobody can save you from me now.” I said with a grin. Suddenly, my phone rang and it was Divya.
“See. Somebody still cares for me.” Sakshi picked up the phone and started talking to my sister. I was still hooked on to Sakshi and was continuing to bother her with my spiky face.
“Haan Akka...” Sakshi was talking about the tour we planned.
“Dee....” I screamed from behind. “You should have been here.” I loosened the grip on Sakshi and grabbed the phone.
“I wish you’d also have joined us.” I said.
“You know Abhi, I can’t. Amogh’s school just started and his assignments are more terrible than my engineering projects.” She expressed her plight.
“I understand Dee... We will drop by when we’re done with the tour.” I consoled her.
My respect for her has increased multi-folded from the day she agreed to an Arranged Marriage for the sake of my parents. Being a woman, she’s done so many sacrifices for her family and I am not able to even give up my smallest dislike for grated coconuts in every recipe. Staying away from home has taught me many things and I’ve compromised a lot and neutralized my likings and disliking as far as food is concerned. I still try to spend most of time with my dad, not to help in his work, but learning how to stay active even at this age. I too felt a sudden rush of emotion and rushed to my dad, quickly hugged him and kissed his cheeks.
“Mom is calling you.” I said and snatched the newspaper off his hands.
“What happened tell me...” my dad walked into kitchen and started enquiring mom.
“What will happen??? Nothing happened...” She said as if dad was disturbing her at work.
“Why did you call me then???” he angrily looked at her.
“When did I call you?” mom replied with a surprise. “You are getting old. You’ve started to hear things in the air...”
Sakshi and I were standing in the living room holding each others’ hands. We blissfully enjoyed every moment watching mom and dad sweetly fight. Now I came to know about the birthplace of all my flirtatious genes.

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