Osi Gaaji & Bajji Maami
Disclaimer: The events mentioned in this story is based on imagination and is definitely not based on any living person(s). The author declines to be drawn into any defamation case for writing a work of pure fiction. All places, names and dates have been changed to avoid offending anyone.
1) Osi gaaji : a slang from street cricket, where a player gets a turn to bat out of turn, also a freebie or a undeserved gift
2)Bajji : a food item made of batter, chillies and banana pith- hot and very spicy, usually eaten with dipping sauces.
The other day a friend of mine called me up and said “Machan, it’s been a long time since we met, why don’t you come home this Saturday for dinner?” and he messaged me his address. So early on Saturday evening I drove down to Adyar, to one of the poshest apartments I have seen. The security guard verified the flat number I was visiting before even allowing my car inside. Once parked at a place marked for visitors vehicles, i took the lift up to the third floor and before i rang the doorbell of flat 3-D gave a missed call on my friends mobile just to confirm that I was at the right flat.
The door opened almost immediately and my friend stood there clad in a lungi and just that (bare chested).”Come in, come in, da” he said inviting me inside. We went in and he made me sit beside him on one of those over-upholstered couches where you feel like you are sinking inside and he started talking about the IPL match going on in one of the biggest flat screen televisions I have seen outside showrooms. That monstrous OLED TV set took up almost the entire wall opposite the couch we sat and it was like having your own personal theater inside the living room. Must have cost a bomb to buy, i guessed. So someone’s making very good money, posh flat, big tv, the works.
Meanwhile he called out in a loud voice to someone inside “——, bring some hot bajji di. My friend has come”. I could see the remains of a large plate of pakoras (near empty) placed on the table opposite the couch. So my friend had already been on it for some time I guessed. We spent a convivial ten minutes or so watching the IPL match and chatting while a pleasant smell of bajji’s being deep friend wafted in from what I took to be the kitchen. Based on that distracting smell itself, my tongue was salivating to taste what promised to be real good bajjis.
And so it proved, the bajji’s were excellent in taste when they came. The lady who came out from the kitchen looked the typical suburban housewife, clad in what looked like an old nighty with a two year child perched on one hip and a big plate of bajjis and some coconut chutney and after murmuring a hurried “hi” to me left the plate on the table opposite me and went back inside the kitchen to tend to whatever she had left sizzling on the grill, dinner for us, if i could guess. I was surprised that my friend had not even offered to keep the child with him as she cooked and i mentioned it to my friend in an aside.
He guffawed and said that the kid wouldn’t leave its mothers side for even half a minute and would cry and make a big fuss if he took it off her. Meanwhile the lady of the house had finished cooking and had gone inside to change and she came out freshened up and clad in a sari looking very smart and pretty that you wouldn’t guess that it was the same person who had been in that old nighty. Standing before us she said in an educated and accented English “Dinner’s ready. On the table. For whenever you want”. My friend looked at me and saw that I had not even finished half my share of bajjis and started to decline, but i hurriedly added that I have a long drive ahead of me as I have to go back halfway across the city to my house and so would be better off I could finish dinner early and start soon.
So the lady led us inside to the dining room and served us dinner. My friend apologized for the fare on the table and said “I hope you don’t mind, she is pure vegetarian and cooks only vegetarian stuff”. I said I didn’t mind as i too didn’t eat non-veg on Saturdays. That said, the food was excellent and more than once I complimented her on her excellent cooking skills. She beamed at that praise for it seemed to me that my friend didn’t appreciate much her culinary skills even though he sat around the house polishing off plate after plate of her cooking.
After a decent time interval, spent sitting on the same couch in front of the TV and this time with the lady joining us too with the child on her lap, I demurred about it turning late and started to make my farewells. My friend looked genuinely sorry to see me go and suddenly (impulsively) said “why don’t you stay for the night and go tomorrow? Tomorrow is Sunday, so you won’t have to go the clinic also, right? You can get up a bit late and have breakfast with us and go home”. I was touched by his spontaneous generosity but refused by telling him “I can’t impose on your hospitality so much. You know how rare it is for people like us not to work on Saturday evenings, so i thoroughly enjoyed this day chatting with you but i really must go home now for I have to get up early and take care of a lot of things tomorrow”.
So both of them, he still in his lungi and bare bodied torso and she in her sari with the child ever present on the hip, came right up with me to the lift door to bid me farewell and as I pressed the button to call up the lift and was waiting for it to arrive at their floor, I told my friend “you know we should meet more often. It was such fun meeting and talking with you today in person unlike all the facebook messenger chats we have had online. And I shouldn’t forget to thank her too, her cooking was fantastic today”. Both of them looked mighty pleased at the genuine compliment and my friend said “You should come down south to my town sometime. I will take you around and show you all the tourist spots. And you can meet my wife and children. My wife cooks very good non veg stuff”
I asked him for forms sake “So when are you returning home?” and he said “i am going back tomorrow night by bus from Koyambedu. Her husband only returns from his trip on tuesday?” he made it a question to the lady beside him and she nodded and added “yes, my husband always takes a week on his business trips. I am going to be lonely after he also leaves tomorrow night, that’s why I am asking him to stay and go on Monday night but he doesn’t listen to me at all”. My friend smiled at that and said “well, work calls and I cant stay here too long, even my wife, trusting as she is might get suspicious” and he winked at me as the lift doors opened and I left the place.