It was his birthday. She had a surprise gift for him and was asking him to guess what it could be.
She-Darling, just guess what I got you for your birthday! (Smiles slyly)
He-(Thinking ‘These females!’) A vacation for two in Paris?
She-Nope. Be practical, sweetie. Where would we leave the kids?
He-(flustered) Hmm….Didn’t think about that. A tie?
She-Wrong again. I know you love ties, but you already have 128 ties. Why would I buy one more?
He-(thinking of her equally large collection of lipsticks, but sensing that it would be unfit to mention it now) A deo maybe?
She-Jaanu, you forgot! I gave you that on your last to last birthday. I wouldn’t give the same gift twice, you know!
He-(beginning to get irritated) Then, a shirt?
She-(swats him on the arm like a typical housewife) You wear nothing but those horrible whites and greys. No way I would buy you one.
He-(crossing his fingers) Tickets to a movie, then?
She-Wrong, wrong and wrong. Is there any movie worth watching nowadays? I wouldn’t take you to see some crap movie about infidelity and extra-marital relationships.
He-(thinking ‘If you don’t take me, won’t I see it?’) Of course, sweetheart. Cufflinks?
She-No. My parents gave you that on our second anniversary. You’ve never worn them. Now that’s really bad. (Blows up her face like a kid who has been refused a chocolate bar)
He-(in a placating tone) I love them, jaanu. Honestly. I haven’t had the occasion to wear them. Now, I will, ok?
She-(smiles) Ok, now guess again….
He-(nervously) Baba Ramdev’s exercise CD? You did tell me my tummy is protruding these days.
She-Nope. That’s not the kind of thing to gift for a birthday. You guys, never know when to buy what!
He-(relieved, but sensing deeper trouble) A candlelight dinner?
She-(bangs her hand on her forehead) Practicality, jaanu, practicality. We are past those days now. I wouldn’t spend 1500 bucks to not even be able to see what I am eating.
He-(on the edge of his chair now) Have you cooked something special then? Remember, on my last birthday, you had learnt some new recipe from next-door Malini aunty and had made it for me? (Mentally pictures something white, gooey and yucky)
She-(laughs out loud) You still remember that? That was a Gujarati speciality. Remind me to make it again. You seem to like it so much. Ok now, don’t divert my attention. Try to guess one last time.
He-(really worried now) Is your mother coming over? (Thinks of the last time when he had had the esteemed visitor over and the pains that he had had to take to impress her, pray with her, help laying the table and enjoy the various ‘experiments’ that mother and daughter made up in the kitchen every day)
She-(bringing him out of his reverie) No dear. Unfortunately, that’s not the surprise. I know you love it when she comes over. You are her favourite jamaai too. We’ll invite her over soon.
He-(literally on the verge of pulling out his hair) Darling, why don’t you tell me now? I can’t seem to think of anything.
She-(in a soft voice, as if she is discussing the greatest secret of the universe) Remember, we went to a party last week? You introduced me to your colleague’s wife, Mrs. Khanna?
He-(heartbeats rising) What about that?
She-(batting her eyelids) I have also decided to become glamourous like her. For you, jaanu. So that people can envy you. A glamourous wife – that’s my gift to you this time.
He-(smiling weakly) Thanks darling. But what are you exactly planning to do?
She-I bought 2 new sarees – you know, the ones with stone work? It is all the rage on T.V. soaps now. And I bought 3 fashionable short kurtis. You’ll just love them!!!
He-(inwardly cringing, thinking of the cost that would involve) But jaanu, I love you just the way you are…..
She-Chho chhhweeeet! I know, darling. That’s exactly why I love you so much. But I know you inwardly wish I were trendy and hip. Don’t worry, I’ll do it for you.
He-(feeling dumbstruck) I really love you, sweetheart.
She-(smiling broadly) And, you know, I got a manicure, a pedicure, a bleach, a wax and a facial. And as the bill exceeded Rs. 1500, I’ll get a glam haircut absolutely FREE next week! Isn’t that exciting?
He-(thinking, “Rs.1500? Dikhta toh nahi hai!”) That’s great, sweetie.
She-Just 3 more sittings and I’ll be positively glowing like Mrs. Khanna. Wouldn’t you love that?
He-(Trying to figure out what is 3 times 1500, failing miserably) Sweetheart, there is no need for all this, but I know you won’t listen. Go ahead…..
She-Thanks jaanu, I knew you would say that exactly.
He-(Smiling weakly) Love you, sweetie. Now, would you please excuse me? I need to go to the bathroom……