THE MAN AND HIS MANY WOMEN

Her face was hidden behind: Why Men are from Mars, and Women from Venus. His, behind The Times of India. They sat silent while the tea grew cold. Not a word, not a murmur but conclusions drew fast- about men and the world respectively. She said, “Do you know men can’t multi- task ever?” He replied with a chortle, “That’s we have women to do it!” Mukesh’s smart retorts weren’t restricted to multi tasking alone but possibly everything under the sun. Their courtship was filled with funny lines and smart replies. His humour and his charm proved to be an ice breaker when he had come to ask her hand in marriage from her father. He provided the wit and ‘stomach- paining- from laughing moments’ she never had while she grew up in a somber house full of troubles. Her existence on earth was divided into Smita Ahuja and Smita Talreja and she knew what was coming next. Hell, she’d been married to the same man for 25 years and known him for 5 years before that. A demand for another round of black tea and quick breakfast. His life was so predictable or maybe she’d been watching for donkey’s years and never realized when his schedule was drilled into her head subconsciously.

Her mind shifted to growing concerns – her daughters, sleeping without a crease on their brow. She sighed heavily during memories of last night. The argument that ensured yesterday was blown out of proportion, heated and loud. It had to be loud with four adults – screaming with the grave peril of their voice box never functioning ever again. She loved her daughters as she loved their father, but couldn’t fathom how volatile and turbulent adolescence could be as a parent. She possessed the ever strong intuitive mind but had no inkling about what could flare up when it came to pheromone riddled bodies, in plural – her daughters, Ananya and Anisha.

Ananya and Anisha Talreja were born on 15th July, with the former being about 2.33 minutes older than the latter. The 2.33 minute “age gap” – was something that Ananya would constantly remind anyone who would care to listen, while Anisha would simply say “The donkey was born first and then the human”. It often would light up a boring dinner or was an attempt to make conversation with unwilling and shy guests.

‘Ananya’ (which meant ‘unique’) lived up to her name and abused every opportunity to do so, from shaving her eyebrows, to chopping off her unsuspecting sister’s hair when they were 8. She was Daddy’s little girl, apple of his eye for she had a certain charm and had inherited his humor and his parrot nose. It would be unfair to favour one child over the other, but Mukesh saw no sin, or rather didn’t think twice before doing so. She woke up from her slumber and like every other morning wished him, “Good Morning, Pop!” Blissfully ignoring last night’s argument he reciprocated with a cheery “Good Morning!” Smita, over the noise emanating in the kitchen, yelled, “Ananya, get ready fatta- fat, I want you to reach college on time, I am not interested in meeting your principal again.” Ananya, made a face, but looked at her ‘Pop’ whose face simply read – ‘She’s still pissed with you about last night. But do it for me.’ She complied and went on with her business to brush, have a bath, make a trip to the loo and miscellaneous activities such as application of kohl on the eyes and gloss on the lips. Her policy – Anything for Daddy Dearest!

Her twin, her 2.33 minute younger twin, Anisha, was a sleepy head and the stereotypical Cancerian – moody, calm, possessive and an introvert. Anisha, could credit her identity to her father, as he had named her so, but somehow though she was his blood, his attachment to her wasn’t on par with his attachment to Ananya. She was the “ideal daughter” – the one who would excel at what she put her mind to. And did so effortlessly (unlike many), even with the presence of a boyfriend, namely Girish. When it came to attention, she could hardly complain, for she was in every alpha red blooded Indian male’s eyes, something to behold or in put in their way – “eye candy to tag along”. Anisha woke up, walked up to the mirror, and washed her face: which was a “xerox chhap” of her mother’s. Anisha made a mental to- do list and while lost in thought woefully ignored her father’s stern gaze, which basically meant he hadn’t forgotten last night’s ordeal that he was put through. The minutes of the argument were that A. She had a boyfriend, B. He wasn’t good enough and that C. Such behaviour (having a boyfriend) was unacceptable. She pretended that she couldn’t care less, but somewhere behind the prejudice, she knew he would always be her father and the one to fund the diamond set for her wedding.

Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” – Oscar Wilde.

Maulika Hegde