“What’s her name”, I asked.
“Cousin Jalebi”, wifey replied.
“Funny name,” I commented, “is she sweet and twisted.”
“Jalebi is her daak naam (pet name). Paromita Di is her Bhalo naam (good name). All I remember is that she used to eat Jalebis with every meal, when she was a child. She was that one child who preferred Jalebis over Barbies.”
“Good lord! Is she still continuing three times a day?”
“I haven’t seen her for the last 15 years, but what I hear from common relatives is that she still continues the ritual”, she replied.
“How the hell does she gets fresh Jalebis in London to eat thrice everyday and how does her husband take it?” I asked.
“Don’t know much, they are coming on Diwali night. Ask them.”
“How long will they be staying?”
“They will be here just for a night and then will be driving to Scottish Highlands in the morning!”, she paused. “So Mr. next-big-chef, would you be making Jalebis for her?”
“Nawwww,” I replied, “quite busy, since it’s a weekday and I have to work”.
She gave me a pissed off look.
I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll buy some extra special jalebis from the Indian store.”
“Please get it tomorrow, just a reminder, Diwali is day after.”, she said.
“Don’t worry”, I paused, “Bharosa hai?” (trust me?).
“This DDLJ dialogues, keep it for your ex-girlfriend”, she said. The following day, I visited the Indian store, there were no Jalebis. I called up wifey and she gave me her piece of mind. “See, you never get what I want. It is such a common thing, Jalebis. I don’t know from where you’ll get it. I want Jalebis for dessert on Diwali dinner” I checked almost all the Asian stores in Edinburgh, none had jalebis. At 10pm, I gave up and reached home. I quietly had dinner and sat in front of the television. Wifey seemed very angry, I had to do something.
During the commercial break, I seized the opportunity and said, “All right, all right, I will make Jalebis for her. You know I can make it”.
She gave me a surprising look, “Are you sure? Don’t you have office tomorrow?” She paused, “And don’t you have to make the batter at least 1 day in advance.”
“Don’t you worry about that, I will make the batter now and tomorrow evening I will be back at 4, which will give me ample time to make the jalebis”, I smiled.
“Are you sure?”
I just gave her a reassuring smile and said, “Bharosa hai?”
“Make sure they turn out to be good”, she paused, “Now stop showing your shiney teeth and get the batter done and I hate this filmy dialogue, Bharosa hai. Yuckk!”.
It took me an hour to get the batter ready and I kept it for fermentation overnight.
On Diwali morning, she said, “Remember to come back home at 4pm, they will be arriving anytime after 7”
I reached home on time and gave final touches to the batter. Once the oil was heated, I held the batter bowl in my hand and started making circles. My phone started vibrating, I asked wifey to check.
“Your mom”, she said, “talk to her”. She shoved my new iphone 6s on my ear. I barely managed to hold it between my shoulder and my ear.
“Hello ma”, I said. There was a faint hello I heard. To check, if the phone was placed properly, I accidentally removed my ear. Chaos ensued. The phone dropped. To rescue the phone, I jerked my shoulder but it was already too late. The phone was already on the floor. To make matters worse, the bowl of jalebi batter slipped out of my hand and dropped on to the wooden floor.
All hell broke loose. She gave me a piece of mind which I quietly listened to while doing cleaning up. Now it was not possible to make any jalebis,
since there was no more batter left. After I made the floor shiny, I approached her very cautiously, “I am going out to get the instant Jalebi batter from Gitz and I will be back in 10 minutes.”
“Do whatever you want,” she said, “you never listen to anyone”.
I said, “Everything will be alright, trust me, I will get the Gitz batter and will make Jalebis in no time. Bharosa hai”. She took a deep breath, without saying a word, she went off to do some other work.
I got into the car and within no time I was in an Indian store. To make matters worse, there was no stock of Gitz batter. I desperately asked the owner to check inside, if there’s even one packet in the stock. He did what I requested, but there was none. I felt like a loser.
I called her, “Could we serve them ice cream instead? They have some wonderful chocolate flavours”.
She said, “Do whatever you want, you have already ruined my mood”.
I picked up the ice cream tub and left. After reaching home, I slipped into the house, took a bath, got into my diwali clothes and sat on the couch reading a magazine. She sat on the opposite couch, watching television. She looked smashing in a green saree.
In the commercial break, she said, “Don’t you ever give me that Bharosa hai dialogue again”
“And don’t you dare make jalebis or enter into the kitchen”
I nodded again like a school boy who did not do his homework.
The bell rang, I gave a sigh of relief.
“It must be them,” she said and opened the door.
She was correct, they greeted us in their traditional diwali clothes and handed us a packet of sweets. After customary greetings, we sat down and conversed on weather and world politics. The women were truly elated to see each other and were engrossed in their own conversations. After a while, it was time for dinner.
We all sat on the dinning table and ate to our heart’s content. It was time for dessert. I noticed that wifey didn’t make any move to serve the ice cream I got.
I nudged her, “Arrey why don’t you get that yummy ice cream that I got for dessert.”, I said, “You know, we get some real good flavours in Scotland, you must try.”
Jalebi di said, “Sorry I don’t eat ice cream. My throat is giving me some trouble.”
Wifey said, “Sorry to hear that Jalebi di,” she paused, “we know you don’t eat anything else but Jalebis for dessert. It’s just that...”
“What?”, Jalebi asked curiously.
Wifey said, “We tried to get jalebis…” She told her the full story.
Jalebi Di started laughing. Shubrato Da joined her. We were clueless, why were they laughing!? After their laughter subsided, Jalebi Di got up from her seat. She desperately looked for something in the drawing room. It was same packet of sweets that she brought.
She opened up and said to wifey, “Bhagwan pe bharosa rakh chhothi. Aur moohn meetha kar”.
Wifey looked at me with a mix of surprise and apologetic look. Taking a moment to score. I said, “Bharosa hai”