Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Bungled Romance


Disclaimer : Way back in history, in 1988-89, I sent this story to Femina and they were kind enough to publish it.

Cupid moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. His idea of a romantic setting for me was a busy road. There was this lovely girl in white walking towards me and my heart started pole-vaulting.
I brushed my unruly hair back, pulled my shirt into shape and walked in as dashing a manner as possible thereby managing to fall flat on my face. It is rather difficult to appear dashing and debonair when you are tripping over your shoelaces and entering into tête-à-tête conversations with the pavement. It is true that I wanted to lay my heart at her feet but Providence seemed to have taken me too literally.
It was ever thus. My ability to enter into the most promising situations and come out with egg on my face is a byword among my acquaintances. China vases wait for me to come by before deciding to explode into smithereens. Doors have a mysterious appetite for my fingers and there has rarely been a projection on a road that has not had the pleasure of tripping me. It seems pretty likely that there was some kind of a mix-up in the assembly department in Heaven while they were making me. I seem to have ended up with two left feet and all thumbs instead of the normal quota of feet and fingers. They seemed to have decided to make an absolute bungler and did a thorough job of it with me as the resultant product.
My Guardian Angel has, ever since, been having a tough time getting me out of the various scrapes that I invariably got into. He was a thoroughly conscientious chap, possibly because of remorse. Even with his levels of performance it was a stupendous task to have got me to meet this girl again. A most commendable job!
It so happened that a friend of mine was a close friend of hers and, so, we met at his house by sheer happenstance. My friend introduced us to each other. Now was the time for some silver-tongued oratory. Unfortunately, my tongue was engaged in a private discussion with the roof of my mouth and could not be persuaded to indulge in verbal gymnastics.
It was obvious that my friend was perplexed. Having been used to my indulgence in verbal diarrhea, he was quite prepared to rescue Shalini (my dream girl!) from my monologue. My uncharacteristic silence caught him flat footed and it was obvious that he was confused.
Luckily for him, Shalini did not wait for him to set the conversational ball rolling. After some time, obviously tired of the roof-of-the-mouth’s company, my tongue condescended to fall in with my wishes. After uttering a few select spoonerisms and malapropisms and liberally tasting my foot, it fell silent only when the meeting was adjourned.
There is no accounting for tastes. One would have thought that, after the demonstration of gymnastics in the street and the subsequent exhibition of foot-in-the-mouth disease, any intelligent female would have decided that ducking out of my sight is the only courtesy to be displayed. Shalini did appear intelligent otherwise, but for her insane interest in moving with me. Well! If she was bent upon making a fool of herself who was I to complain? Besides, one cannot discount the idea of the conscientious Guardian Angel at work.
Then came a month of miracles! One month in which I did not trip a single time on the streets; one month in which no friend had reason to bemoan the untimely demise of his favorite china vase; one month in which doors had turned vegetarian and treated my fingers considerately; one month in which Nature held its breath and waited for the inevitable explosion.
And it came! Shalini and I were to dine at a restaurant. I had been postponing this outing, primarily because I had had nightmares of tripping over every table and breaking innumerable glasses that are invariably present in these restaurants with Shalini looking on in horrified wonder. Unfortunately, my scruples about ruining the Insurance company that handled the restaurant’s business was construed by Shalini to be sheer parsimoniousness and, as any knowledgeable person can tell you, more romances are nipped in the bud due to suspicions of parsimony than are ruined by suspected infidelity. So, I had to bow to the inevitable and take her out.
Having safely navigated my way through the horrific maze of tables and a forest of glasses inviting me to break them, I comfortably seated myself with a sigh of relief. I excused my Guardian Angel his oversight in allowing me to stub my toe while seating myself. Even an Angel is not perfect!
The Customer Service Executive (he was too grand to be a mere waiter) had taken our orders and departed. We were sure of no intrusions on our privacy for the next hour or so after which he would deign to reappear at out table. Much as it has caused irritation to many customers, this practice was well in favor with young lovers desirous of privacy.
I had reverted to my usual self after that one initial instance of tongue-tied ness and thus it was that I was expounding at length about the philosophy of life while Shalini warded off boredom by constantly defending herself against the salt and pepper containers that I kept knocking into her face with the extravagant gestures that characterized my conversation. Noticing the signs of irritation in her face despite my preoccupation with the sound of my voice I placed my hands in the safe sanctuary of my knees and wondered miserably about how to make a conversation without making it a monologue. Surely even a temporarily insane Shalini could not withstand the onslaught of words that I invariably unleashed in any company.
The haughty Customer Service Executive reappeared in the midst of my misery and deposited our orders on the table with the air of a king showering largesse on his deserving populace. He even went so far as to open the bottle of sauce and place it at Shalini’s disposal. The benevolent beam on his face looked like an avuncular blessing though it may merely have been the anticipation of a large tip that activated the muscles of his face.
Shalini was reaching for the pepper when my chivalrous instincts woke up. “Allow me”, I said and lifted my hands with the sure deftness of an experienced chevalier. At least that was how it was intended but, unless chevaliers make it a habit to get their hands entangled in the table-cloth, something had gone wrong in the works. Whatever it may be, the net result was that
1.      two steaming plates of noodles.
2.      the contents of a bottle of sauce
3.      two glasses of water
4.      two containers of pepper and salt
fell into Shalini’s lap.
She seemed to neither appreciate the chivalry nor her favorite dish. Apparently the fact that the noodles had gone on to her lap instead of into her mouth made a difference to her appreciation of the dish. Ah! Women are an unfathomable mystery!
Shalini rose in anger. Her eyes transfixed me to my chair while she stalked off to the washroom scattering noodles and tomato sauce with gay abandon. The restaurant was convulsed with mirth and the Customer Service Executive appeared in imminent danger of popping off with apoplexy while he walked circles holding his stomach and whooping with laughter. A good time was being had by all while the cause of all this fun writhed in misery. Shalini emerged from the washroom, flicked a contemptuous noodle at me and stalked out of the restaurant.
I rose precipitately from my chair, knocking the table down in the process, and ran after her only to be stopped by the iron hand of the Customer Service Executive. Once again in history, Commerce impeded the rash course of youth’s love.
Having settled the restaurant’s bill, after discovering that they were un-commercial enough not to have insured themselves against damages, I walked moodily out with a heavy heart and a light purse and slid down the stairs to the pavement. Thoughts of suicide were uppermost on my mind but I could not convince myself that I would succeed any better in this attempt. If I were to try to hang myself, I would only goof up the knot and fall flat on my face. Having done this often enough, while engaged in less dramatic activities, this exercise had lost its novelty. Poisoning would probably result in extensive nausea and an attempt at drowning would only find me trying to do so desperately in two feet of water. The life of a bungler is certainly hard because life is hardly worth living and dying was an act beyond his limited capabilities.
Thus walking dejectedly I raised my head to see Shalini coming back. Was that a smile on her face? I ran towards her, tripped over a sleeping dog, executed a perfect double somersault and fell flat on my face on the pavement.

68 comments:

  1. Don't tell me it's true....hahaha....really funny

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    1. No it is not autobiographical :) Didn't even find a women insane enough to love me in the first place :)

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    2. ohho come on...she is there somewhere..you just have to go and find her suresh..:)

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    3. Actually I am too lazy! I am waiting for her to find me :)

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  2. You are good, you are actually good, very good indeed :)

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  3. Interesting... loved the ending! :D

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  4. Wonderful narrative, Suresh. Loved the story.

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  5. I loved it. Lucid, simple, dry humor and an quirky ending. It would really be great to read more of such stuff. Oh, I am glad I joined your site.

    Keep blogging.

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  6. Ha ha ha! Its too good Suresh! :D :D

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  7. I fell 'flat' for your story- my first visit to your blog and I am delighted at your repertoire!!!

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    1. Thanks! Hope you did not injure yourself too badly :):)

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  8. Suresh, I have read thousands of comic strip but never one in picture-less prose! By the time I hit the closing lines I was bawling with laughter! And hey, ever thought of firing your guardian angel?

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    1. Should have thought of that long back, Uma! Too late now :)

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  9. LOL! I bet it is autobiographical! ;)

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    1. h! Navin! So I impressed you as a consummate bungler with verbal diarrhea in that Indiblogger meet? :(

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  10. After seeing your sense of humor at the meet, I was waiting for a post from you. And indeed you are great talent to bring out laughter. Thanks for the wonderful post.

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    1. Thanks Farila! Great to see you here! Hope you found the grammar adequate as well :)

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  11. Really good.You write very less on humour and see tou have started with a Bang.

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    1. Thanks! Seems to me that you have read only a couple of my latest posts! Out of my 104 posts, about 90 would be humor. Most of my other readers would be surprised by this comment :)

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  12. while walking on the road, the chances of falling flat on your face is quite high and while walking towards your table in a restaurant, the probabilities of breaking glasses and plates on the way is not negligible either. and hence i don't find these unusual at all, more so because i have executed the above mentioned acts numerous times with utmost dexterity. enjoyed the read. will make a note that i need to write a similar post :))

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    1. I have no doubts about your dexterity in these acts, Debajyoti :) As for your writing a similar post - promises, promises :)

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  13. This is humorous! Poor guy, seems like nothing worked for him. Beautifully written!

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  14. This is humorous! Poor guy, seems like nothing worked for him. Beautifully written!

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    1. Looks like your mobile prefers doing everything twice :)

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  15. Cool humor. If I remember right you have not written much humorous fiction in your second innings.

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    1. If by my second innings you mean after starting blogging I think "Romance on a diet" and "Desi Wild Hogs" ought to count as humorous fiction! If it is after my 100th post - yes! And I still haven't written one considering this was written in 1988-89 :)

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  16. Dear Suresh Sir,

    This was too good :)

    Is this pure fiction :)? Or is there a hint of truth - semi-autobiography here?

    Cheers,
    Mahesh

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    1. There is always a bit of the author in anything he writes, Mahesh! But none of the incidents actually happened to me :)

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  17. Wow Suresh , no wonder it got picked for publishing . It's superb . Your post brightened my day today . Absolutely hilarious :)

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  18. Good one, Suresh.

    You must have seen me in some restaurant because such antics are not beyond me - things that have been rooted to a spot for centuries would fall by themselves when I pass by. :)

    So I empathise with your hero.

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    1. Thanks Jayadev! Btw, I do not need to look elsewhere for the characteristics of my hero :):) The mirror is enough :)

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  19. LOL..Hillarious! Brilliant writing..No wonder this was published..Again Hahaha :)

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  20. A lovely narrative that was delicious and replete with sweet humor. You can’t help rooting for this character. You can’t help falling in love with his innocence. You couldn’t have brought out the dilemma in his mind more beautifully. And my god.. all his encounters.. are a riot. I couldn’t help laughing my heart out at his escapades. And can’t praise your writing enough. Every sentence was a delight to my senses.

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    1. Thanks Raj! I don't know if I am worthy of such generous praise

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    2. I am sure you are worthy of more than my praise. :) It is a delight reading you.

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  21. Even i am holding my stomach & writhing on floor-you can achieve this from long distance too-well hilarious is too small a word but my vocabulary is nowhere near yours...it seems you have always been poking fun at yourself,no wonder you are so good at it!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Ah Indu! It is just that there is so much in me to poke fun at :) :) I am gifted that way :)

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  22. In the words department, CS, you are certainly not all left feet. Having read many other posts I feel (like Indu)that you do the self deprecating humour especially well.

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  23. You can make a rock laugh Suresh, hilarious! I kept imagining you do all that and then I read through the comments that it was fiction. Drat! You reminded me of Kajol in Pyaar to Hona hi tha. I used to be pretty clumsy myself, my mom would always say I was behaving like that but this one, I got to have my Mom read it!

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    1. Mmm! Sometimes, maybe :) Thanks! and tell me what your mom told about it :)

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    2. I did also post a link to this on Kaleidoscope's Facebook page here!

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    3. That's wonderful of you, Deepa!

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  24. Thanks to Deepa, I am here, rolling with laughter:-))))))))
    Sooooper Suresh!

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  25. Loved the humour! The perfect combo of quirky humour and beautiful English words! Laughed so hard :) Awesome post.

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    1. Thanks Rajkiran! Glad that you enjoyed the post.

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  26. Suresh, I feel bad that I was laughing at your misfortune, but you told it in such a funny way. I'm left wondering if you went out with Shalini again.

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    1. That was fictional, not autobiographical, Mary! Glad that you enjoyed the read :)

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  27. ROFL ...ohh god... you beat me at bunglery :P this is hilarious... noodles on Shalini's lap!! no wonder she was angry :P

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    1. THAT was fictional, Rajalakshmi! Though, if I have not actually done it, it is merely a matter of luck. It can still happen some time :)

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  28. ROFL ! Great read as usual Suresh and at your expense again :) Your guardian angel needs to be upgraded..

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  29. Its outrageously unfair ! The doors, the shoelaces,the metallic projections of all kinds waiting, only for you at every nook and corner ...
    tsk tsk ..still my sympathies are with Shalini who missed a chance of a hilarious life ! Absolutely loved it and laughed my heart out after a really long time.Its Bookmarked Sir !

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    1. She smiled at the end, didn't she? Or, did she? Maybe she is still in with a chance :)

      Thanks Kokila!

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  30. Wise words these --- "Unfortunately, my scruples about ruining the Insurance company that handled the restaurant’s business was construed by Shalini to be sheer parsimoniousness and, as any knowledgeable person can tell you, more romances are nipped in the bud due to suspicions of parsimony than are ruined by suspected infidelity." Had a great time re-reading this. Thanks again.

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