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He then turned towards Mrs. Nath and said, “It’s all because of you. I told you not to send Vimi with Vikram to America for studies. Now look how ‘broad-minded’ they are.”
It was afternoon. The doorbell chimed.
Mr. Nath: “Who’s that now at this hour?”
He called out to his nineteen year old daughter Vimi while he kept rocking on his chair.
His wife, Mrs. Nath, came rushing out of the washroom.
Mrs. Nath (grumbling and referring to her husband): “He will sit right in front of the door but won’t open it.”
Ting, tong went the doorbell again.
Mrs. Nath opened the door and Vikram, Vimi’s friend was standing there. He had something in his hand.
Vikram: “Yeh lijiye aunty” (Please take this aunty)
Mrs. Nath did not see what he was giving. She said,”Beta give it to Uncle. I am washing clothes in the washroom.”
She rushed back towards the washroom.
Vikram, without hesitation, extended his hand to Mr. Nath.
Mr. Nath took what Vikram was giving. Once he got it in his hand, he looked at it and yelled, “WHAT IS THIS!!”
Vikram: “Uncle it’s innerwear.”
Mr. Nath: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”
Vikram had his eyebrows together and looked bewildered. He wondered why Mr. Nath reacted like that.
Mrs. Nath and Vimi heard Mr. Nath shouting and came out. Before Mrs. Nath could ask what was happening, she saw Mr. Nath holding a panty in his hand.
Vimi burst out laughing. Mrs. Nath too couldn’t stop giggling.
Mr.Nath (to Vimi): “You. Don’t laugh.”
He then turned towards Mrs. Nath and said, “It’s all because of you. I told you not to send Vimi with Vikram to America for studies. There are so many institutes in India. Now look how ‘broad-minded’ they are.”
Vikram (in his mind): “Oh goodness. Uncle thinks I spent a night with Vimi and have come to return her belongings to her.”
Vikram (to Mr. Nath): “Uncle. It’s not what you are thinking.”
Mr. Nath: “You don’t tell me about my thoughts. First tell me what is this.”
Vikram looked at Mr. Nath’s angry face and thought it would be safe for him to give direct answers to the questions.
Vikram: “Uncle it’s a panty.”
Mr.Nath: “But what is it!”
The perplexed Vikram thought he should be more specific. So he said,”Uncle, it is Vimi’s panty.”
Mr. Nath (to Mrs. Nath): “DID YOU HEAR THAT!”
Vikram: “Uncle, it has to be Vimi’s because aunty ka tho size thoda bada hoga.” (Aunty’s size must be bigger.)
Vimi kept giggling.
Mrs. Nath: “Oh beta. Let it be. Thank you for giving it.”
Mr. Nath: “I don’t believe it. You are thanking him too. So many times I have told you not to hang your undergarments out in the balcony.”
Vikram took a sigh of relief and thanked God for it was not what he was thinking.
Vikram: “Yes uncle. The panty was in your balcony to dry but there’s so much breeze, it flew down to our balcony. I saw it flying and actually it landed on my head.”
Mrs. Nath pursed her lips. Vimi was hysterical now.
Mr. Nath: “And you had the audacity to bring it here?”
Vikram: “I came to return it uncle.”
He murmured, “Aaj Kal bhalai ka zamana nai raha.” (Can’t even be a decent person these days)
Mr. Nath: “Don’t try to act funny with me. You are an Indian. Don’t try to be an American. And you, Vimi, next time keep your personal stuff inside. You should be ashamed. Such a disgrace!”
Vimi: “Dad. It’s just clothes. You are overeacting.”
Mr.Nath: “Is that so? Tell me how I am overeacting.”
Vimi: “All clothes when washed should be dried out in the open to avoid bacteria inside them.”
Vikram (with a smirk): “Uncle, polka dot boxers are great. I like your choice.”
Mr.Nath looked down and settled his pyjamas. He thought his flap was open.
Vikram: “Oh no uncle. I can’t see your boxers now. You leave it to dry in the balcony so…”
Vimi: “Yes. Now tell me Dad, why that discrimination? You can hang your undergarments in the open but I cannot. Why?”
Mr. Nath: “Don’t ask my why the sky is blue. You’re not a kid.”
Vikram heard his mom calling out to him. He said bye to Vimi and left.
Vimi went back to her room.
Mrs. Nath (in a disgusted tone): “Thank God this generation does not think like you. Each for equal, be it rights or just undergarments. I am going to wash the clothes and all the undergarments will be dried in the open.”
She turned her face and left.
Mr. Nath was left alone in the room holding the panty with the tag ‘Victoria’s secret’ in his hand.
First published here.
Image source: a still from the film DDLJ
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