One fine summer afternoon I was sitting in my clinic with nothing to do. An epidemic of health seemed to have hit the city and my only patients had been a couple of old ladies whose problems were incurable and a couple of young housewives whose problems were mostly imaginary – born out of the tedium of their routine lives. So I just sat there with nothing to do but kill time (better than killing patients, my best friends would have said) when the phone on my desk rang. It was an old friend – the same in fact who had had the condom experience I told you about in a previous post. I smiled; maybe this would lead upto another post.
“Hi BC,” I said.
“Hi MC,” he replied.
After this necessary bit of formality between old friends, we got down to business.
“Actually doc, I needed an appointment with you,” he said.
“Nothing I can fix on the phone?” I enquired.
“No, its kind of personal and I need your careful consideration and advice.”
“Well, I’m kind of busy today (a necessary bit of fiction which I am careful to perpetrate among all my acquaintances) but you can come to my clinic the same time tomorrow.”
So the next day he came down to my clinic and after the same necessary formalities mentioned earlier, I asked him to state his problem.
“Its actually my wife you know.” He began.
“So if she has a problem you should have brought her along you dunderhead. How do you think I can diagnose her problem by examining you?”
“Just listen to me idiot before you jump the gun.”
So I leaned back in my chair and listened to him.
“Well about a month back I started noticing that my wife had changed —-“
“Was the new one prettier?” I interrupted.
“Don’t interrupt and be serious. I mean I noticed a change in my wife. Maybe it was the yoga classes she had been taking, and I distinctly remember that those days she was reading the autobiography of an obscure Godmother. Whatever it was, she had suddenly become so sweet and calm and serene and spiritual. She had increased her pooja time and she was fasting nearly everyday. She stopped watching all saas bahu operas on TV and switched over to Astha channel. In fact she had changed so much that when I forgot to buy the groceries on my way back from work, she just smiled and shook her head understandingly, instead of blowing her top which is what she usually does. And when I came home too late one day to attend her mother’s cousin’s daughter’s dog’s birthday party, she just tweaked my ear playfully. Over the next few days I deliberately forgot to pay the telephone bills, the water bill and the electricity bill in succession, hoping to provoke her, but each time she gave me the same sweet, serene smile and brought me my tea. My wife had certainly changed.”
“So what was the catch?” I asked. Such miracles are almost certainly too good to be true.
“Well, as I said, my wife has suddenly become spiritual – so spiritual in fact that she has denounced all pursuits of the flesh. She reads the Gita and the Ramayana regularly but when I wish her to practice that other great text of our culture that has been written by Vatsayan, she gives me a sweet, serene smile and turns over to the other side and goes off to sleep. Its been a whole month since we have – you know – and I feel like a dam about to burst. Give me some good advice my friend or soon I will be reduced to my hostel days – buying second hand Debonairs and Playboys.”
With difficulty I suppressed an outright laugh.
“So your wife has become spiritual and pure. That’s good, isn’t it?” I said.
“No!” He cried. “I want her to be material and corrupt!”
Obviously he was getting carried away in his desperation. I twisted my features into a smile of understanding. I pondered over his problem.
“You could take her to a five star hotel at a hill station. The soft, luxurious living and all the honeymooning couples around you is sure to stoke up the dormant fires within her grate. The spacious bath-tubs in five-star bathrooms are especially helpful in such situations.”
I saw the alarm on his face. I remembered that he had a horror for spending that much money. Any solution that I suggested had to be cost effective.
Suddenly I hit upon the solution.
“Buy her some lingerie.” I said.
“Lingerie?” He asked in confusion. He pronounced it as linger followed by ee.
“That’s not how it is pronounced my friend. But it is a sure shot success. Women cannot resist such things. Get your wife one of these things, and once she puts it on, she’ll feel like a seductress, and with no one else in sight, she will be forced to seduce you. And the thing that you will buy for her will not ‘linger’ on her for long.”
I watched the hope dawn slowly on his features.
A few days later he came back to my clinic. I asked him how it had gone. This is the complete and unabridged version of what he told me:
I went to this huge new mall they’ve opened on J—– street where they’ve got a large ‘Shoppers’ Stop’. The lingerie section was on the second floor. It was in a secluded corner and was being patrolled by five smartly dressed females.
As I entered I saw large pictures of generously endowed ladies in various states of undress. I realized that I had to do my shopping quickly, as with so much stimulation surrounding me, soon it would become difficult for me to walk normally. A couple of middle-aged ladies were looking up the wares, periodically nudging each other and sniggering. Presumably they were finding the skimpiness of the garments a source of great humour.
As I began surveying the dresses, I suddenly realized that three of the smartly dressed females had stationed themselves behind me. Now it is very gratifying for any man to have his every movement followed by three pretty young things, but not when he is engaged in the delicate and private task of selecting clothes meant to arouse his wife’s carnal passion. In fact I felt like Maradonna in a football match being shadowed by zealous defenders. My mind went blank and I started feeling hot and uncomfortable in the air-conditioned environment.
Finally, I mustered the courage and said:
“Ladies! Please understand that it is extremely flattering to a man of my age and temperament to be followed about by such ladies as you, but at present I would definitely appreciate some privacy.”
They looked at me with horror-struck expressions. Obviously they expected me to pocket a few of the garments and rush out of the store as soon as their back was turned. They backed off though, and I was left in peace. But only for a while. Soon they were replaced by a more authoritative looking lady, obviously their superior.
She cleared her throat and addressed me:
“Can I help you sir?”
Her tone suggested that I did not have the option of denying her assistance. With an inward sigh of resignation, I said:
“OK! I am looking for some lingerie.”
“For your wife, sir?”
Obviously! Does she think I am a transvestite?
“What is her size sir?” was the next question.
Now here was a problem indeed. I didn’t know my wife’s size. So what was I supposed to do? Should I indicate the approximate size with my hands, cupping them in the air like? Or should I tell her that my wife was about her size, which would then indicate that I had appraised her figure well (which indeed I had)? Somehow both options seemed to be to be rather untenable.
Finally, after careful deliberation, I said delicately:
“Lets assume that I am shopping for you.”
She did glare at me, but it was only a soft, non-threatening kind of glare. Silently she started taking out the garments one by one and presented them to me for my approval. She must have been another disciple of the same Godmother whose books my wife had been devouring, for the things which she was handing out to me were meant to cover a woman from head to toe, without revealing any skin worth mentioning. The sort of lingerie that would probably be in vogue in the Middle East.
After I had shaken my head about a hundred times, she said with some exasperation:
“So what is it that you want?”
I silently pointed to one of the large posters I have mentioned earlier. She looked at me as if I were the re-incarnation of ‘Jack the ripper’. I stood my ground, and finally she had to give in. She showed me what I needed. I picked up a couple of things which could be easily folded and kept in my wallet. Frostily she led me to the payment counter. I realized with a shock that the cost of these things is inversely proportional to the amount of cloth they contained. I came out of the store, significantly impoverished, but with a sense of satisfaction of mission accomplished.
“So did it work out as expected?” I enquired eagerly.
A huge, happy smile distorted his features.
“You were right my friend. It did not ‘linger’ on her for long.”