Mala sang in a raspy low voice in the kitchen making two cups of tea without sugar. She went to the living room where her husband, Ram, was reading the newspaper on a rocking chair. Placing his cup of tea on a stool beside him, she tread back into the kitchen. Then quietly, she peeped into the living room.
She murmured to herself, “Today he will be caught red-handed.”
She saw Ram taking out a sachet from his pyjama pocket very sheepishly. He quickly emptied out the contents of it into his tea and slipped the empty sachet back into his pocket. He was about to take a sip of his tea when Mala came breezing out and howling almost in a cracked voice, “Caught you! Caught you!!”
Ram flung the cup of tea which hit the wall, spilling the tea and covering the ground with the shattered pieces of the cup.
Ram: “Goodness!! You scared the living daylights out of me!!”
Mala looked at him with big eyes and said, “What were you doing? Hmmmm?”
Ram (softly): ” I…I..I was just having…”
Mala: “Come here!!”
Clenching her fist with her thumb, she gestured him to come close with her pointing finger.
Ram came closer.
Mala (sternly): “Show what you’ve got in your pocket.”
Ram (guiltily): “Nothing”
She shoved her hands into his pocket and took out the sachet. His thigh felt ticklish with her fingers and he giggled.
Ram (trying to be casual): “Yeah”
Mala: “Very bad. You have started lying to me these days. You know sugar is bad for you.”
She crossed her arms and turned her face away.
Ram: “You know what. This makes me cast my mind back to where it all began between us! That’s the same expression which I fell in love with.”
He tried to pass it off.
Ram (in a mocking tone): “And the same expression which I now have to tolerate.”
He tittered and pursed his lips.
Mala: “And what about you. You are the same old baby who needs to be taken care of.”
The doorbell rang.
Ram: “I’ll get that.”
His son, Raj and daughter-in-law, Sheetal, came in. They saw the mess and Mala standing grumpy.
Sheetal: “Oh Papa. Not again. What did you do now.”
Raj nudged Sheetal and they giggled.
Mala: “He was about to take poison.”
Raj and Sheetal in a loud and surprised voice: “WHAT? PAPA? WHY??”
Ram: “Oh how she likes to exaggerate!!”
Raj getting worried, asked his mother again, “Mumma, please tell me what happened?”
Ram: “Nothing. I just put some sugar in my tea quietly.”
Sheetal and Raj took a sigh of relief, “Thank God!!”
Mala: “Sugar is poison for him. Why are you thanking God?”
Seeing that they were Mala’s target now, Raj made an angry face and told his Dad, “Very bad Papa.”
Mala felt satisfied.
Ram: “Well. I am going to have some wine in the evening. What’s your poison son?”
Stressing on the word ‘poison’, he smirked and looked at Mala, trying to tease her now.
In the evening, the four of them sat on the balcony and were having a chat.
Sheetal: “Papa do you still go for jogging?”
Mala interrupted: “Huh. Jogging!!”
Ram: “Of Course I do.”
Mala: “Yeah why not?”
Raj: “Now what’s the matter? Papa didn’t say anything wrong.”
Ram sat like an innocent child as his son spoke for him.
Mala: “Ask you father what I saw when I gave him a surprise visit at the jogger’s park yesterday.”
Ram’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment and became red. He kept quiet.
Mala: “Why? Now what happened? You were so chirpy when you had a group of ladies flocking around you.”
Sheetal and Ram let out a gut busting-chuckle. Ram roared with laughter.
Mala continued: “He thinks he is a young lad.”
Ram: “You too still never fail to give me surprises. No wonder you landed there.”
Raj and Sheetal pulled Mala’s leg. “Mumma, you’re quite a romantic huh.”
Ram: “Oh yes. Raj, when you were little, after dropping you to school, she used to swing by her sweetheart’s office at lunch for an impromptu bite together!!”
Sheetal: “Sweetheart? Mumma you had a boyfriend?”
Ram: “That sweetheart was me.”
Mala retorted: “Talk about yourself. Last week itself you had a bunch of roses delivered to me on a whim.”
Sheetal told Raj: “You never do that. Learn something from Papa.”
Ram held Mala’s hand and said, “Come on now. It’s dinner time.”
Sheetal and Raj cracked a smile at the cute pair of old-timers holding hands.
After dinner, the four went to bed.
Sheetal went to the kitchen to get some water. She went back in and called Raj in a hushed voice.
Sheetal: “Come watch Mumma and Papa. Don’t make noise. shhhh…”
Raj peeked into his parents’ room.
Ram and Mala shared a giggle which looked like one of the most invigorating and bond-strengthening things ever. He kissed Mala on the forehead, with a comforting stroke on the back of her neck. She caressed his hands. They looked so connected and happier.
Sheetal: “Look at their night suits!! How cute.”
Ram’s night suit read ‘Together’ and Mala’s read ‘Since 1965″.
Raj: “Together since 1965..They are so loving.”
They walked back to their room.
Influenced by his romantic parents, Raj playfully did the waltz singing, “I want to grow old with you..”
Sheetal laughed: “It’s not about counting the years.”
Raj: “Then what is it?”
Sheetal: “It’s about making the years count.”
It was 12:00 a.m. Ram and Mala suddenly came in with a cake shouting ‘Happy Valentine’s day!!’.
Watching Raj and Sheetal hugging each other, Ram cheerfully said, “It’s been an emotional moment. Even the cake is in ‘tiers’!!”
Ram took a big piece of cake.
Ram: “It’s sugar free!!”
Love was only getting better with age!!
Image is a still from the TV show Sarabhai vs Sarabhai
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Author of 'Infidelity-An Outrageously Funny Affair and The Ultimate
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