An expletive of a relative

I could actually refer to this member of my family as "Saala!" Did I mean it? Well...

Imagine an arranged marriage where the girl you have been paired up with is someone you would have never managed to snag on your own. It’s the night of the wedding, and after an exhausting day, you sit down to have your first dinner tied in knots, err, with knots tied. And even before you ask your bride how she is feeling, or comfort her with some food, “he” swoops in to shove a handful of her favourite “biryani” into her mouth!

It was at that very moment I almost mouthed the word that is considered a family-dishonouring expletive across most of India, but I could actually refer to this member of my extended family as “Saala!” Did I mean it? I’m definitely not going to say: I value my life and wife!

Now here’s a couple of siblings that you break your head over. Depending on their moods, there is either rivalry or revelry. One moment they are at daggers drawn, and the next they have buried the hatchet to unite over a common cause or enemy.

To say that they fight like cats and dogs is probably the truth: They have had plenty of time to observe pets like these and absorb their habits. Want to be the referee? You are welcome, for, they will soon turn you into a rival, having teamed up among themselves. Yes, the sister and the younger brother indeed get along like a house on fire. And when they don’t, they set the house on fire.

So where does the hapless husband or the jaded “jiju” figure in all of this? Somewhere on the sidelines, alternating between a distant spectator and a Japanese villager/citizen fleeing the King Kong vs Godzilla mayhem.

So, when she helps him buy a new phone, they compare their devices, a scuffle ensues and his hand-block results in her phone slamming down on the floor, rest assured that his phone will meet the same fate in a matter of minutes. Thank your stars if there is little or no damage – both to the devices and the siblings – and let your mother-in-law step in, even if it is via telephone from hundreds of kilometres away.

The general advisory here would be to keep these two separated. And they are, given that she stays with me in Bengaluru and he is back in Kolkata. But the true manifestation of the fire they kindle for each other is less the burning kind and more the warming kind: She mollycoddles him like on the first day when her eight-year-old self held him in her arms, and he seems to revel in all the attention and affection.
Here’s wishing that they get to spend many more Rakhi and Bhai Dooj together.

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