Bhanumathi felt a strange emptiness. It felt she was done with life. It didn’t make her sad, but she wondered if life was always going to be peaceful and boring hereafter. She thought she better get used to it. There would be no more crazy mornings, rush hour traffic or piles of files on her desk waiting for her autograph. No more doctors, businessmen, contractors and elite from all walks of life waiting to talk to her outside her office and no more funny meetings with MLAs and ministers. And more than all that she will miss her peon Subbiah getting her hot bajjis and tea for her every afternoon. She thought: No more fun! It was her first day of retired life. She was no more the Collector of Coimbatore!
Ramamurthy was perched gingerly on the sofa and was peering laboriously into the sports page with his fat spectacles. The Indian cricket team hadn’t exactly made him proud. He was also grumpy this morning because his filter coffee was late by an hour. He was worried it would affect his biological cycle. Bhanumathi ignored him as she sauntered to the kitchen and started to brew fresh decoction. Ramamurthy ambled in, intoxicated by the mystic aroma. Bhanumathi gave him a stare and he went back and hid himself behind the sports column again. For the first time in years, they sat on the verandah, legs outstretched, sipping fresh coffee and watching passers by with the amusement of a new born. She felt that life was not that bad actually.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Ramiah the post man. “Letter for you amma!”
“Are they calling you back?” chuckled Ramamurthy.
Bhanumathi ripped open the letter with a restless curiosity. It was from Mrs. Anjani Dutta, her best friend and mentor who was the former Collector and now happily retired in
eyes lit up with a fiendish glare as she read the letter. Calcutta
Hello my dearest Collector amma (oops... did I miss an ex?) I have been waiting for this day for nearly 2 months now. Remember the “retirement mourning party” you hosted for me. It is my turn to rub some salt! As you welcome emptiness into your life, I am going to help you do some soul searching to find creative ways of killing time. As cruel as irony is, you will very soon be introduced and sucked into the world of television soaps! Add Ramamurthy’s 24/7 cricket to that and I can’t help wonder how much torture will you be able to endure!
Oh poor thing! How are you going to survive that bad bad world of the blood sucking saas and the revenge seeking bahu? How are you going to keep track of the innumerous characters and their complex relationships as they engulf the TV screen and your mind without leaving an aorta of space? How will you tell the great great grandmother from the great grandmother? I will throw a tip at you here. Look at their hair. The one with snow white hair is “The Great Great” and the one with a single strand of black hair (you have to look very carefully) is “The Great”. And then it gets easier as you can keep track of the other “Maa”s and “Baa”s by the different stages of their black hair-dyes.
Relationships though are a totally different beast. You see it depends on a lot of factors like the whim of the director, the availability of actors and the creativity (or more so the lack of it) of the writer. So don’t freak out when you see a guy getting married 6 times or if the leading lady’s husband changed from last week. You see even “Baa”s switch husbands as veteran actors too are busy and the show must still go on. And if you suddenly wonder why the story is going completely off track, the star vamp lady would have probably gone on maternity leave.
Oh no... I see another problem. You are such an impatient brat. You cannot even wait for the decoction to brew at leisure and you will keep tapping the filter on its head. How are you going to watch a seriously funny argument take place over a whole week or a silly marriage that spans at least 2 month? Here is a solution for that too. Pick 4 serials but don’t watch them daily! Watch them on alternate days and trust me you can easily follow the story. And guess what, you should form focus groups with your neighbors and you can predict what will happen next week. It is an amazing “feel good” exercise as you will realize how much more intelligent you are than that celebrity director!
Jokes apart... There is really a serial that is a class apart from the others and that which I have been watching ever since I retired. It is called “Kyunki Saas Abhi Bhi Bahu Hai” and trust me there is no retirement for or from this one! I am sure my letter would have partially killed your appetite for these small screen gems. But I don’t want you to completely miss this once in (and for) a lifetime experience. So once you have had your share of fun and frolic, you should pay me a visit so that I can share more pearls of wisdom with you. Hoping to see you soon!
Suddenly her entire future ramp walked in front of Bhanu’s eyes shedding gloomy tears of a slow death. She felt a sudden rush and frantic need for some bustle. She stormed into the living room where Ramamurthy was sitting on the edge of the sofa, his body moving towards the TV at 0.01 miles per year. “What happened to that
Europe tour you were talking about?” she
“What Euro…” Ramamurthy looked bamboozled like he had just swallowed a dead duck!
“Stop watching that stupid match and for once make yourself useful! I don’t want to die in front of a television.”