"Puh paaaaaaaa! Mia says I'm adopted...that I was picked out of the dustbin", I whined, most upset with this revelation. Sid hugged me amiably and stroked my head, "But it's true, Mollsy...you are". Aghast, I whirled towards Mia who was licking her paws like a villain, a smirk spread across her face as if to say "Told you so!". How could this be? I was adopted...that too from a dustbin, I turned back to Sid for explanations, this was preposterous! "Still true Molly, quite literally from a dustbin. Well, the girl who found you, found you by a dustbin, so I suppose the saving grace was that you weren't in the dustbin but just by it." My whole world spun around when he said this, quite literally - since he twirled me upside down and dangled me there. Generally this would send me into a frenzy of excitement, the start of a violent game of wrestling and jumping on Sid that would usually end in much noise, loss of hair (mine, not Sid's obviously!) and Reem having to break everyone up because Sid's shrieking was getting on her nerves. But today, I was unmoved as he head butted me and threw me around the bed. I thought I was a princess (Mia is queen and she makes sure we all know it!), but this news changes everything. Ohhhh to have that Mia rub it in my face that she had been right all along! My robust appetite, absolute disregard for discipline, penchant for sharpening my teeth on wooden surfaces and love of toilet brushes and trash cans would continue to be attributed to my "dustbin dog" status. Mia had already told half the neighbours, that beagle downstairs always barks at me as if it knows something, and I've seen him hob nob with her. Even that burly labrador we pass by often, who looks like he has enjoyed a few toilet brushes and chair legs in his day, sniffs at me disdainfully. It all makes sense now!
"Just file and shape them, and push the cuticles back"
I wandered around morosely, not even finding a pair of flies buzzing past me amusing. Reem had been baking frantically for a few days and usually I would be firmly ensconced in the kitchen, getting in the way deliberately to retrieve any fallen bits and pieces that would come tumbling down each time she tripped over me. But today I wasn't in the mood. Mia was seated regally on the living room sofa watching Downton Abbey and sipping a cup of tea. "What's up glummy bear? Why so morose? Tis' the time to be jolly - it's Di-wolly!". I lay down at the foot of the sofa, sulky and thinking about Diwali, which Mia called "Di-wolly" - she always sounded so stylish when she said things, always classy. Not like me - I had to be told what Diwali was, And Christmas. And well just about everything. Mia was just so much more worldly - she was older and wiser and always looked at me in amusement when I didn't know something. "Di-wolly is a loud and raucous affair when Reem and Sid dress up a bit and disappear every few evenings and come back complaining about eating and drinking too much and something about needing Eno (Sid loves ENO!). Then they decorate the house and you're not meant to eat the flowers or drink the oil out of those little clay diyas (too late, I had already downed two by then!) or chew the playing cards (too late, the Ace of Spades was dangling from my lips as she spoke). Don't you know anything Molly? Well, I suppose it can't be helped...dustbins aren't a place to pick up much information.". She sashayed away stylishly with her satin coat on (called it her smoking jacket) to bully someone else, with one final dig as she departed "Holi would be more your style...hooligans rushing around with gay abandon!"
I moped around the rest of the day and at night, crawled in quietly to my bed. I glanced up to see Reem looking at me, her hair tumbling down and tickling the top of my head. "Oye, what are you doing on your bed? Why so glum, chum?" I allowed myself to be dragged on to their bed and settled in by her side, licking all the cream off her face. "This dog", she said to Sid, "is the most loving doggy ever, never seen one as affectionate as her". Hah! What was affection when you had no class, no noble lineage like Mia, no proper background. "Puh-paa and Mia said I'm adopted and that's why I am junglee and I don't know what Di-wolly is and I'm not classy like her and I know nothing about anything". She stared at me a bit shocked for a second and then said, "But Mollsy, what does that have to do with anything? Mia is adopted too - she was found in a park in Lajpat Nagar, and she's hardly classy. Look at her right now, she has her evening dinner stuck all over her paws because she put her feet into her bowl and if I told you some of the stories of the trouble she got into when she was your age, you'd be shocked! And what makes you think that lab and beagle are any different - I'm sure they've had their share of water from the toilet bowl as well"
Mia came rushing in at this moment, curlers in her hair and little ribboned booties on to keep her paws soft, (Mia thought it uncivilized to not wear clothes and always had something on, looking at my nakedness in disgust) and barked at Reem, "Don't say another word or I'll sit on you. Molly don't believe a word she says". I was ecstatic, "Haha, you're adopted too Mia. We're the same". She snorted at me, "No, we're not and anyhow Lajpat Nagar is South Delhi ok...still posh!". Sid patted Mia "Oh it's sweet you think Lajpat Nagar is posh! What silly stories have you been filling Molly's head with". She jumped off the bed with a "Whatever!" and settled down at the window seat with her back to all of us. "Anyhow, I'm a Rhodesian dog!" she yelped at me from her elevated seat, "I have pedigree and you're just a mongrel"!. Sid threw his sock at Mia, "You twit, there is no such thing as a Rhodesian - we made that up...Road-asian- as in Asian dogs from the road!". She jumped off in irritation, "I'm going to pour myself a brandy, you lied to me about my pedigree. Come on Molly, we're not hanging out with them". I jumped off the bed, always up for a midnight jaunt. "Make sure you don't open a new bottle", said Sid as we tootled off, "The open one is for the adopted ones, we keep the good stuff for the pedigrees!" Mia snorted derisively, "What cheek...not like he's from an aristocratic line. No Molly, not an aristo-cat, stupid, an aristocrat. Come I'll show you...a re-run of Downton Abbey is on, It's delightful... I'll class you up in no time, so what if we were not to the manor born"!
'My darling', said I, waltzing into the living room, addressing its bald occupant. He was splayed across the sofa and knocking back a gin and tonic and Gup Shup peanuts at a rather alarming pace. I checked the time - 11 AM. "You just had breakfast an hour ago, and your third cup of tea twenty minutes ago! When did you manage to get through all that right after?" Appearing confused, he displayed his frustrating habit of answering my questions with a question, "What do the two have to do with each other? 11 AM G&T's are the best bubz." I decided that there were worse vices in men than drinking appropriate amounts at all sorts of hours, and continued with what I had come to inform him. "This year bubz, we are making the effort. No short cuts at festivals - we're going old school. Hand written notes and posting cards, home made goodies as gifts, creating our own little boxes and wrapping paper. I want people to feel the love! No one makes an effort anymore - and buying a gift is always less meaningful than receiving something a person has poured their heart and soul into!" He paused in between a mouthful to take in my resolve, and said hesitantly, "Oh I don't know Bubz, this sounds like a lot of work. I know you hate short cuts and SMS language, but it's such an effort. I mean...". I cut him off. " It's not a language, it's laziness and it's all related! We don't make an effort anymore, we are all in such a blazing rush that we can't even type out 'I love you', leave alone say it to the person. I mean what the hell is 'I luv u', it even looks ugly!" I paused to catch my breath, and before I could start off again, Sid hastily jumped in, "Fine fine bubz, effort it is then. If it means that much to you, of course...make away, I am sure everyone will love it...and I don't mean 'luv' it, I mean the real deal, the four letter word, L-O-V-E it." I was touched. To get him to agree so quickly was an achievement, there were usually no short cuts involved when persuading Sid, and this had been quick and painless. In fact, a bit too quick and painless. I looked at him suspiciously, "Oh no you don't! I am not just going to "make away", WE are going to make it together. What was all that hotel management and training in the kitchen for, if you are just going to waste it by sitting on the counter and swinging your legs while I make stuff". He sighed and dragged himself up, "Alright then, but I'm going to need something stronger than a gin and tonic then." I stared daggers at him, "It's 11.15 AM now, how much more fortification is required at this hour?!" He pranced off to the bar, "I'll be done in a jiffy darling, something festive I'm thinking. I know! I'll make us caipirinhas, they're not too strong for the day, but strong enough to get us through whatever you have planned. I'll be with you in a tick my love!" I threw up my hands in despair and lunged towards the kitchen, determined that his procrastination would not hinder my efforts.
Fifteen minutes later I was happily ensconced in the midst of flour, eggs, mounds of cocoa, whiffs of
vanilla and almond extract putting me in a happy place. Sid was still to arrive with the cocktails, but had made several appearances trying to take away the sugar, rushing down to buy mint, asking for the blender, arguing with Sarina because she had used some glasses from the bar to fill loose change in, and so on. He finally came in, laden with our liquid sustenance and I had to admit, they were very good and did put one in an even more festive mood! After stirring some melting chocolate, poking an egg, sniffing a bowl, licking some left over batter, buttering a cake pan and feeding Molly some mint leaves and her own tail, he declared himself exhausted. "You've been here exactly five minutes! How can you be exhausted?" He distracted me with a yelp, "Oh look bubz, your glass is empty. My, my aren't you a speedy little engine...chugged that one away, didn't you! Can't have that, I must make you some more". I calmly slid the empty glass towards him, "That's yours", and then pulled my rather full glass away from his fingers clenched around it, "And this beauty is mine. You finished yours two minutes ago and grabbed my glass". He feigned amnesia but disappeared again muttering something about "sharing" and "doesn't matter who's glass it was but it should always be full, it's called being an optimist".
I continued through the afternoon, mounds of good stuff piled up along the counters and the dogs lucked out on lots of crumbs and some fallen bits and pieces. Sid emerged once in a while, but I found him a few hours later snoring in front of the television sandwiched between Mia and Molly. All their mouths looked a bit sticky around the edges. Evidently Sid had been helping by doing some tasting, as I saw four cupcake liners drizzled along the coffee table. I was about to shake him awake, when I noticed sheets of craft paper scattered on the floor with paw marks all over them in red and blue. He had decided to give the home-made wrapping paper a go and thought a pattern of paws would do well. It was rather sweet, though the pattern looked a bit crazed and erratic, the dogs having obviously rushed along the papers and chewed a few bits here and there. I decided he needed the rest and stole out to buy a few cards and note paper.
I returned a while later and after being almost run over by two monstrosities of fur, teeth, lethal tails and ghastly paws of red and blue, I managed to extricate myself to reach the refrigerator. After pulling out a bottle of water, I noticed a post-it sticking on the door with a friendly scribble from Sid. "Bubz, gne 2 play baddy, mke me grilled cheez sandwchs pls. Luv u...cold coffe wl mk me luv u more. See u soon." At the end of the note he had crammed in a comical sketch of Molly drinking a gin and tonic and eating canapes. I was very amused with the sketch, but the note itself made me cringe! After packing all the stuff up, writing a few notes and then sending all the gifts off to their recipients, I sat down with a large glass of wine and turned on the television. Sid came in a few minutes later and exclaimed, "My god bubz, drinking again...seriously?!" I glared at him and he plopped down cheerfully next to me, "Just kidding! Give us a sip" As he took a long swig, he asked " So how was your evening, what did you do?" I stared at him amazed, "I packed all the stuff I made, sent it out and sent a little note from 'us', though you had nothing whatsoever to do with any of it!" He didn't seem to be paying attention, his eyes glazed over, "What do you mean all the stuff. Where's
my share...I can't believe you didn't save me any!" I took off on a tirade with no pause which deflated him a bit and he sat looking quite depressed. After ten minutes of making him feel bad, I slipped over to the fridge and pulled out a cake and handed it to him. "Here, I saved this for you". He whooped in delight and started eating it straight from the bowl. "Oh bubz, this is really nice...I get what you're saying now, making an effort does pay. This cake is so much sweeter because of all the love you put into it"! I took another sip of my wine and said "Actually it's Betty Crocker, I knew you'd whine if I didn't leave anything for you, so I just popped this in the microwave before I left". He was stunned, "Betty bloody Crocker. Everyone else gets all the effort and I get 5 minute cake out of a box". I patted him on the head and said, "Chill bubz, next year we'll just buy ready made stuff, I'm exhausted. Screw the effort!". He smiled and said "Words of wisdom. There's the girl I know...let's drink to that!"