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A loud gong sounded in the hall as the clock struck 5 pm. The front door flew open, and a small elderly gentleman charged in, looking haggard and out of breath, as if he’d run all the way to his home.
“Shit! It’s 5 already. Has it started yet? Has it?” he asked breathlessly, his face writ with anxiety.
The elderly woman who had rushed in from the kitchen at the commotion, took a second to calm herself down, and then fixed him with a withering stare.
“Not yet,” she said disapprovingly. “You know the clock is 5 minutes fast.”
Relief flooded his gaunt face.
“Sahiii!” he said, with a broad smile. He flung his briefcase onto a chair, and hopped onto the sofa, simulatenously reaching out for the TV remote with his right hand.
“How many times have I told you to keep the TV on,” he muttered.
“What was that?” she demanded.
“Er.. nothing, nothing,” he replied hastily. “Could you make me some popcorn?” he added with a boyish smile.
She stared at him with an obvious expression of annoyance. His smile grew wider and more pleading. She sighed and walked towards the kitchen.
Five minutes later, the frame of Arvind Kejriwal appeared on the 32 inch screen.
“Mein khurshid saab se paanch sawaal karna chahta hoon…” blared the TV.
From the kitchen, she watched her husband wring his hands with glee and feverish anticipation. She sighed.
It has been like this for over a week now. The first day he came home early, she was pleasantly surprised. He’d waltzed in, taken her in his arms and mouthed a few lines of poetry. She’d laughed it off but was secretly charmed. Thrilled even. Yeah, they were old. But who said old people cannot be romantic? With her heart literally singing, she had bounded into the kitchen to entertain his craving for paneer pakodas. Fifteen minutes later, when she took a plate of hot pakodas back to the hall, she’d found him watching TV with an unusual earnestness. The next one hour, he had completely ignored her, hanging on to every word of an annoying man with a Gandhi cap.
“Khurshid saab, kya aap maante hain ki yeh affidavit pe JB singh ji ki dastakhath farzi hai?” roared Kejriwal, bringing her back to the present.
She watched him collapse into a fit of giggles, spraying popcorn everywhere.
It was the same story every day. He’d come home everyday at 5, order a plate of samosas or pakodas or popcorn, whatever caught his fancy that day, sit glued to the Television, and a couple of hours later, go to bed laughing to himself like a madman. Of course, she could get him to stop. She knew how to control her man and make him dance to her tunes. Which woman doesn’t? But the doctor had said that this was good for his health. And she had no choice but to agree. Ever since this rigmarole started, he seemed to be aging backwards. He now looked at least 2 years younger.
“If people you claim have benefited, deny receiving equipments, will you resign?” thundered Kejriwal.
She watched him drop to the floor and clutch his stomach in uncontrollable laughter, almost choking himself in the process. She sighed again.
The loud ring of the telephone shook her out of her reverie.
“Hello,” she answered.”Yeah, he’s here. But he’s er.. working and doesn’t want to be disturbed.”
She cocked her head in a bid to hear the reply.
“Oh, I understand. In that case, I’ll give it to him.”
She covered the mouthpiece with her palm, and screamed over the din of the TV. “Sunte ho ji? There’s a phone call for you.”
“Tell them I’m working,” he replied dismissively, without taking his eyes off the TV.
“He says it’s urgent.”
He stiffened. Grumbling, he got up, spilling bits and pieces of popcorn all over the floor, walked towards her, and snatched the receiver with a scowl.
“Dr. Manmohan Singh speaking…”