The Indian uncle (mentality): A profile
Have you ever moaned about how a person is "such an uncle"? If yes, then read on.
Sadashiv uncle, clutching his side-pillow in one hand and and the bedsheet under him in the other, woke up in a cold sweat and a terrible mood.
It's not new though. Sadashiv uncle wakes up grumpy. He has woken up grumpy for as long he remembers, or at least what he likes to remember. On some days he doesn't even feel like waking up at all. Because waking up would invariably mean that he'd have to read the newspaper. If he reads the newspaper, he will have opinions and Sadashiv uncle has a fraught relationship with opinions.
That's not the only reason he doesn't feel like waking up though. The geyser hasn't been heating up properly, causing his son Rayan to complain. Sadashiv uncle looked up some geysers online that he couldn't afford. At least, not at the end of the month.
Anyway, why should he provide hot water at the optimum temperature to that naalayak Rayan? So that he can come home drenched after being struck by water cannons? Sadashiv uncle gets extremely frustrated with the situation outside.
"Have you seen what's happening? Have you?" asked Sadhashiv uncle of his wife, Shanti Aunty. Shanti Aunty, who half expects to be called aunty by her husband now, replied without looking away from kneading flour, "What's there to see?"
"I mean your son enters home drenched at 8 PM in the evening, when it hasn't rained in a month; I was not born yesterday to think that he was playing colourless Holi with his college friends in the month of December," Sadashiv uncle says in his trademark tone which could be mistaken for fangs.
"Say what you want to say, I don't have time for your morning session of grumpy mumblings," Shanti aunty quipped back while kneading the flour even harder.
"Did you see what happened to the buses---"
"What about the buses huh? What about the buses? Bas karo. You make it sound like I burn those buses for fun at my non-existent kitty parties," Shanti Aunty said while looking absolutely done with her married life and Sadashiv uncle's hopeless efforts to rekindle their morning conversations.
Sadashiv uncle went back to his newspaper only to hear a ting from his Samsung smartphone that his young colleague had selected 3 years ago.
It's his school Whatsapp group, which tings every morning with either Sri Krishna or glittery flowers wishing Sadashiv uncle good morning in Word Art fonts. The group is called "Vidya Bharati High School: friends forever" and has a display picture of Maa Santoshi sitting atop a tiger with the backdrop of a blinding white light.
Last night, in this very group, Sadashiv uncle had found a very interesting forward from his childhood best friend Captain Vishesh Sharma. It highlighted how Rahul Gandhi was actually the lovechild of Indira Gandhi (whose real name was Fatema D'Souza) and her bodyguard. It also proclaimed that Nehru was the first test-tube baby, but Motilal and the Congress had suppressed it using their clout.
Captain Vishesh Sharma also woke up in discomfort. Everyone calls him Captain but he doesn't know why. Sure, his father was a jawan, but he never became a captain of anything more than his school cricket team. He has a scrap business now. But he's planning to sell it, and start a saree shop soon. There's a nice showroom in Sarojini he has his eyes set on.
Captain needs milk and corn flakes every morning. He often slurps his milk before eating the sweet soggy flakes. Priti hates this habit of his. There have been several occasions when her friends have been grossed out by her father's weird ways of eating. If the captain has to drink a bowl of soup, he'd take the bowl and slurp the entire thing with an extremely unappetising sound, which might or might not resemble the sound of a mini-cyclone.
Priti has been planning to move out for a long time now. But the rent will be too much in South Delhi. After all, copywriting doesn't pay as much. But the morning and evening routine of religious bhajans is becoming unbearable day by day. Also, she fears that once she moves out Captain will have nothing to hold on to. A sense of family.
Captain sure feels lonely when Priti is not at home. Maybe that's why Whatsapp groups have become his only source of entertainment and importance. Captain has a Twitter account, and whatever he finds titillating or scandalous, he bombards in all his groups. He wrote poetry once, but now he writes Facebook posts exposing the hypocrisy of liberals. He has quite a fanbase now.
Sadashiv uncle has even asked Captain to start a YouTube channel. Both Captain and Sadashiv uncle enjoy the videos by this guy who goes by the name of 'The Skin Doctor'.
"'10 ways Hanuman Chalisa can change your life', that should be our first video. We can also do one on the real origins of Taj Mahal," Captain suggested while pulling on his grey Nike joggers for their morning walk.
Captain has been very angry lately. He hates the fact that those Burqa-walis are eating biryani and blocking a highway. It doesn’t matter that he never has to take that road. The thought makes his skin crawl.
He also protested once. He was this close to being jailed during the emergency. This close. But he didn't wear saffron robes and block a goddamn road. "Is this any way of protesting?" asked the agitated captain to Sadashiv uncle.
Sadashiv uncle got even more agitated and said, "Of course not. Have you seen Priti's insta stories from Shaheen Bagh? Either you have a word with her or I will. What was she wearing? And in that area? I always thought she's a quite young girl who only likes to read and write. What is this protest-protest game? I'm telling you Vishu, this ungrateful generation will be the undoing of our country!"
Captain starts coughing. He has mild asthma. He only feels it when he gets very excited. He also forgot to take his inhaler along. It seems like it's going to be a tough morning.
"You don't say. Priti is not her anymore. She shouts at me? Can you imagine? Raising voice against her father who never denied anything that she wanted. Now she says she's looking for a flat for her in GK."
"I don't get this generation. Why do they have so many opinions? They are getting radicalised by these Marxist ideologies Vishu. I am telling you. Our country will be broken because of them. Do you know that Rayan refuses to talk to me? He treats the house like it's a hotel. I swear I'll burn that beard of his. That lazy, ungrateful baboon never did anything worthwhile and now talks about how I have become a radicalised boomer," Sadashiv uncle stops talking as he hears another ting from his phone.
"See, this boy is the only hope for our colony. Did you see how he exposed that Islamist conspiracy? He has even been on Sudhir's show."
Captain nods in agreement.
They'll have to go back now. Sadashiv uncle has been hearing about this automation drive at his office. Today will be the first day of that. What's the need of this, he thinks. At this age, if he has to understand these swanky softwares along with GST, it's a plain nuisance.
He likes everything that Modi Ji does, except these changes. All he ever wanted was to live with his head held high. GST was never in the plan.
This new boy at his office was talking about how the boss is going to get fired. Sadashiv uncle doesn't like these things. If he has to go he'll go, but he's just wondering if YouTube is a good career option at this age.
How will he buy the AC before the summer strikes? Shanti Aunty had a very tough time last summer without the AC. She would often get up in the middle of the night and go to Rayan's room. He has to buy the AC this year.
It's 10.30! He's late again. He quickly takes a right turn towards his lane. On the corner, he stops at Ravi's shop. "5 de de." (Give me five of those.)
"Yeh chewing gum, is this good for your diabetes, uncle?" Ravi replies.
"Did I ask for your health advice? Did I? 5 boomer nikaal."
"Okay, uncle Ji. I was just saying. Yeh lo boomer."