"I hate girls, bubz", Sid stated quite simply, no malice or anger lacing his words, just a straightforward honesty. I ignored him, as I often do when I'm on my way to work, my "to-do" list taking up much of my concentration. Besides, I'm used to him saying controversial or debatable things just to see if I'm listening. Like "Oh bubz, it's alright, you don't have to thank me for being the best thing that has ever happened to you" or "My mom can kick your mom's ass when it comes to cooking", etc, etc. He waited patiently for a reaction and then opened his mouth to repeat himself, but before he could I blurted "I heard you the first time". He looked at me with his mouth open like a gold fish, trying to inject a bruised dignity into his next question, "Well, if you did, then why aren't you reacting"? I realized there was no point trying to brush him off right then and thrust "Finish contract and get it signed today" to the back of my head and diverted my full attention to him. "Is that why you said it, just to get a reaction from me"? He looked shocked, "How dare you suggest such a thing. I would never make a statement just to be controversial and to get your attention". I glared at him, which immediately invoked a, "Alright, I'm bored...but there's some truth in it".
I decided I may as well get into it since I had already shown some interest. "And why and how is that true? Half your friends are women, you're married to one and you seem to enjoy these significant few enough. And don't you dare start a stereotypical tirade about wives and me not really being a "woman" etc etc"! He smiled and patted me on the head, "Oh bubz, I would never say that. You're as womanly as they come! But being married to one doesn't make me understand them any better. I love you, but you and "your kind" perplex me"! I narrowed my eyes and nodded, a signal for him to proceed with his argument. There was no need really as he wasn't looking and was hurtling on irregardless!
"Do you realize that I've "slept" with all your girl friends or most of them"? Now this may sound shocking, but it really isn't, because it's very literally true. A couple of my friends who come home to visit me and stay over for the night or the weekend have frequently disregarded my marital status and when it comes to Sid they believe in "we were here first, so deal with it". Sleep time is preceded by long conversations in bed and a legacy of my hostel and boarding school days means that they will obviously sleep in my room. How else are you meant to fall asleep while talking? Sid of course participates in these conversations and loves being included, but as I discovered his grouse is more with "not getting enough of the quilt at night" and "I didn't make a super size bed so that I have to share it with a third person". I smiled, "I know, but Shagun and Karen do make up for it. Karen cooks for you whenever she comes home and Shagun...well ok, Shagun doesn't do much but she entertains you with her scintillating conversation"! He rolled his eyes, "See boys, neverrrr sleep on the same bed and preferably not in the same room. And they definitely won't be sleeping with me and my wife"! It was my turn to roll my eyes. "That's because boys don't like sleeping in the middle and god forbid your arm hairs even touch, you'll all die thinking that it means you're homosexual"! He pondered over this point, but said "That may be, but you girls just bond too much, dominating bunch of girl friends you have! Stealing my quilt, making me watch their TV shows, eating up my ice cream"! Boys maintain their distance...sleeping on the same bed, preposterous"! I stared at him in disbelief, "Excuse me, that was Prerana's ice cream that she had got for herself and you thought you would eat it, and she's your friend also by the way! And let me remind you about many guys who you've had to share the same bed with...there's...".
"POINT 2!", he bellowed, cutting me off abruptly before I could elaborate on the long-ish list! "They're all bloody goondas nowadays. Nothing ladylike about you lot anymore". I decided this discussion was going to be one-sided and didn't bother to interrupt this time. He obviously appreciated the silence, pushing on full steam ahead. "Look at that Ruth, ordering my poor friend Asit around. And she once accused him off being too mild with one lazy domestic help, she actually said - "This Asit doesn't say anything. He should threaten the fellow a bit, "Saale, yahin peh thok doon kya"?" Is she from the mafia? The godmother, crazy woman"? I laughed, recollecting the incident (and no Asit did not take Ruth's advice!). Sid wasn't finished however. "That Prerana worked in Mumbai as a crime reporter. Hob nobbing with cops and criminals and from the sweet innocent child I knew, she's turned into a "Friends and Romans, cover your ears" fog horn"! I rose to her defence, "Only with eve-teasers, criminals, when she's had a few or when she's talking to you". He had to agree on that one!
"Ok, ok let's go on. This over confidence all of you have, which you think translates into a great sense of humour - well just stop it, you're not funny"! I looked at him with pity in my eyes, "Rasika kick your ass again?". An explosion of outrage filled the car, "Kicked, kicked? Even a feeble nudge with her toe would be overestimating the impact her "wit" has on me. She's a sore loser and has to have the last word even if it's not funny"! I let him subside a bit before I said, "So why does it bother you so much then if she's not funny". He replied sulkily, "It doesn't"!
I patted him on the hand, "You know you do secretly love us". "I do"?, he asked with sincere disbelief. I nodded wisely, "Of course you do. You understand us better than you give yourself credit"! When our cook was being bashed up by her husband, you were really upset. You wanted to run down there and have him arrested, remember? Ok so you offered to call your brother and Amit because you hadn't really thought the plan through and wanted "safety in numbers", but she was really touched by your concern"! When any of my friends have been upset/depressed/sick you've offered to get them home...like when Shagun fell down the stairs. Or when you delivered a cake and flowers from me to her on her birthday...it's the little things." A silly smile was spreading across his face, a faint glow of a halo forming over his head. "And let's not forget the mothers, not too many that I've met who don't adore you. You're obviously doing something right"! He continued to revel in his wisdom and I decided it was safe to retreat back to my "to do" list. As I mentally added to it at a furious pace, I could hear Sid in the background, "But, no. That doesn't mean I like your lot any more"! I refused to be interrupted again, cutting off further discussion with a "Shush! Nahin toh yahin peh thok doongee". He threw his hands up in exasperation! "I rest my case"!