of the summer of ’89 (part 3)

Yeh paisa main tujhe number do ke tareeke se de raha hoon, he said. I stood hiding behind the curtain, my heart pounding. I had watched enough Ajay-Vijay movies to know that number do ka paisa meant illegal money.

Mera baap chor hai. My father is a thief. Amitabh’s voice played in a loop in my head. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was listening for the sirens that signal the oncoming of the good guys, the policemen that would arrest my father.

As soon as he left for work in the morning, I ran to my mom and confronted her. Papa ne aapko jo paise diye hain, wapas kar do. Return the money he gave you.

Kyon bhai? She looked amused. Why would I do that?

I told her it wasn’t rightfully ours. I think I even mouthed words like imaandaari and do waqt ki roti (like they said in the movies) but I’m not so sure anymore.

She was ignoring me, and I would have none of that. I tailed her all day and kept asking the same question. Hum itne gareeb hain ki humein chori karni padi? Are we so poor that we had to steal?

She looked extremely annoyed and said, jab papa ghar aayenge to khud pooch lena. When he comes home, ask him yourself. (Of course I didn’t, because I knew better.)

She avoided talking to me the whole day. She didn’t even take me along to the market, perhaps so I wouldn’t embarrass her in front of other people.

Only when I asked what was for dinner did she heave the proverbial sigh of relief and resume talking to me. Her silence had taught me my third life lesson. Don’t bring up uncomfortable truths. People don’t like them.

P.S.: Later, when I was much (much) older, I confronted my father about this. He told me that back then, he had “borrowed” some money from the business for unforeseen medical expenses. Strangely enough, as an adult, I was ok with that. I understood, which makes me uncomfortable, so I don’t talk about it. Talk about learning that sticks!

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Blogger. Crazy bitch. Stalkee. Weirdo magnet. Wannabe housewife. Corporate Slave. Find me at anawnimiss.wordpress.com!

7 thoughts on “of the summer of ’89 (part 3)”

  1. Hi. What about you? When was the last time you or Mister bribed someone to receive a favor? Also, something I always wanted to ask you since you live in Delhi — do you see any change in attitude towards corruption since AAP came to power? Do you still come across corruption in daily life?

    Thanks for writing and sharing your life with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get furious when someone asks me for “chai paani”. I scream and shout and threaten to file a complaint – though I’ve never had the chance to actually file one. The closest I came to
      doing so was two years ago, when someone’s construction truck hit my car, and at the police station, the constable kept telling me I needn’t worry because he’d handle everything. Then he kept saying – you help me, I help you. I confronted him directly and told him I thought he was asking for a bribe, and that I needed his complete name and belt number so I could lodge a formal complaint. Then he said he didn’t mean it that way. Then I realized he was trying the same trick with the guy whose truck had hit my car. I warned him again, and he told me it was none of my business. I was so outraged I went to the next proper police station to file a formal complaint. He followed and begged and pleaded until I relented. I had to take half the day off from work just because of this.

      And yes, I see a visible change in the situation here in Delhi after AAP took over. There were touts hanging around all transport offices claiming they could get you a license without you having to do anything – those guys are gone now!

      As for Mister, he hates confrontations, so he won’t complain, but probably won’t bribe either. He’ll just walk away and find another way to deal with the situation.


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