Break-up Etiquette

Ahmedabad Mirror, Page 16, Thursday, February 23rd, 2016.

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Chapter 2 : Sartorial Survey

<– Back to Chapter 1.

(Author’s Note to reader: This is in continuation of the article earlier left incomplete here. I have been wanting to complete this article since ages, many people had asked me repeatedly to complete it, but it was destined to be done now. Cheers !!)

To say that he got it really cheap at that time was an understatement, because the price that was informed to me was like a throw-away price for a mansion this size. But in the end, it is not the price that one pays that matters, it is the value of the object that is owned that matters. Like my grandfather always says to me, the value of the property is not always weighed in terms of the payment that you have made for the same, but in the value that other people assess as it’s true value, or the market value. and yes, it is definitely true!

Chapter 1: Woman in the City

As I paced briskly along the riverfront, watching the vivid orange patches around the disappearing orb of the setting sun being swallowed by the fast approaching dusk that seemed to portend of some seemingly ominous happenings. “Nothing of that kind is going to happen, madam!” is what I found myself repeating in my signature undertone.

Suddenly I found myself zooming back into the bylanes of memories that have remained with me since the last 15 years ever since I passed out of college and had since become a successful journalist and with the help of my father, later had virtually become an overnight success as a popular novel writer, unceremoniously pushed into the limelight, with no inkling of what was to come. Interestingly what I did not expect initially was that once into it, I could don that role with such élan that surprised even the strongest of my critics, namely, my mother.

Every child that is born into this world has some pretty strong influences working their magic onto the personality of that child in myriad of ways. Obviously, the strongest influence is that of the parents, followed by grandparents and uncles and aunts and lastly the combined effect of both parents families. I come from a nuclear family in which both my parents have been working all their lives. My mother is an academician and it seems to me that she has been one all her life, or at least ever since I have come into this world, she has been one. Her father (Nanaji) had also retired as an academician from a reputed government job. On my father’s side, practically all the who is who have been at some time or the other either in the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or Indian Police Service (IPS), except my paternal grandfather (Dadaji), who chose to retire as a serviceman from a reputed multinational corporation (MNC). He was last serving, as I recall, as General Manager (Commercial), which is not at all a bad post to retire from.

Coming back to my parents, they had a love marriage, which initially was not well accepted by all and sundry, but in a few years was never really looked down upon in any way. At least, ever since I was born, I have been spoilt silly by my Dadaji, Dadiji, Chacha, Bhua and all my father’s relatives. For a long time, I have been the only grandchild in the family, as both my parents were the eldest child of their respective parents. That has it’s own benefits and I like to think that my coming into this world made some of their lives much more easier than it would have been otherwise.

I have been told that when I was born, I spent the initial 12 hours of my life in my father’s arms, who in turn was delighted to be so privileged, albeit because Mom was very exhausted with the delivery that took almost six hours from start to finish. He gave me my first cuddle, kept me pressed to his chest, encircled by his brawny (and hairy) arms, behaving much like an infant who has just been presented with a toy that it always wanted to possess. Mom says that even before I was born, he had already come up with a name for a girl, “We will call her Kajri”, he stated, and coincidentally Mom concurred, because she had just seen a Raj Kapoor film in which the lead heroine, Zeenat Aman, was named Kajri, and she loved that name so very much. Later on, Dad told me that in school, he had been somewhat smitten by one of his classmates, who was also named Kajri, and was reminded of that pretty young lady while watching the Zeenat Aman film with my mom.

Coming back to the present, as I walked up the flight of stairs that led up to our flat, I began to wonder what I would do on my forthcoming trip to Mumbai the next day, the Commercial Capital of India, also the city where my father had spent a large part of his teenage life and later as an intern in one of the most reputed chartered accountancy firms of India after finishing college from another reputed institution by the name of Sydenham College of Commerce. One of his very close friend, whom he had been introduced to by Mom, Arbaaz Anwar Saeed, was going to be my host for two days, and since he was well connected with the media industry since almost 30 years, he was going to introduce me to a publisher of international repute. Despite my insistent questioning Abzee uncle (my pet name for my father’s friend) was not too forthcoming about exactly what the meeting was about. All that he was divulging was that it would be the most propitious moment of my life, the springboard that would launch me right into space. “Gosh, Abzee Uncle has really taken the cake this time, Dad!!” I remarked to my father. Dad smiled enigmatically, but apparently he knew only as much as I did. “Abzee Uncle can be pretty secretive sometimes”, he shrugged and replied. Well, that was that, but the moment I set eyes on him, Abzee Uncle would have to come out with some more specifics, if he knew what was good for him!!

The flight to Mumbai was uneventful and apart from a couple of college students, who turned out to be avid readers of my latest book, there were no other fans, which was a welcome relief. At the airport, it was simple to find Abzee Uncle with his henna colored hair standing out in the crowd, though I meet him on every trip to Mumbai, he was more than his usual exuberance in meeting me. Why he never married anyone completely stumped me, but he treated me just like if I was his daughter only!! The warmth of his smile, the shine in his eye was no different from what I could always see in my father’s eyes. He would insist on coming to the airport, and I for one could never complain, because all the airport staff seemed to know him and waved us through at every point. He knew most of the staff by name, which was not surprising considering that he travelled quite frequently.

In the car, I began to pester him about the upcoming meeting – what was the name of the publisher, what questions I could expect him to ask me, why did he want to meet me when Abzee Uncle had already briefed him about me, etc. etc. He just smiled and glanced at me, saying “Hey, can’t you wait till we reach home, I will tell you everything that there is to know”! I resigned myself to this, and we chatted about my parents, the hot weather, recession etc. till we reached his mansion in Bandra Bandstand. The manservant who came to get the luggage was Abbas, who has known me ever since I was a child, accompanying my parents on their many visits to this gorgeous city.

Entering the colonial style mansion that was owned by Abzee Uncle always took my breath away with it’s beauty. His family, which consisted of his old parents, who usually lived in Ahmedabad, my home city, sometimes visited their son in Mumbai once in six months, has owned this mansion since times immemorial. Apparently, his great-great grandfather bought the place from an Englishman soon after the Partition.

Continue to Chapter 2.