Saturday, January 25, 2014


I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but Aaliya and I were not as full-size enemies as this from the beginning, and she used to tell me all her secrets and everything, although they were not as half as good as mine, like, ever. I mean who gave a shit if she had a crush on Batman, or if she was the one who broke her own iPad and hid it, or if she wanted to be a manicurist when she grew up, but I never told them to anybody anyways, mostly because I didn’t wanna die of embarrassment or anything. I had to tell Paa about that iPad though, just ‘cause he wouldn’t stop looking for it otherwise. But she didn’t know, so it’s fine. Even if she did, she’d have let go of it ‘cause she hadn’t lost it all by then. I mean she let it pass when I beat her at TEKKEN twice back to back, just so you know! And I’m the only person who got to write on her cast that one time she fractured her elbow. She transformed into a monster with rage issues only after an incident few years ago at Aunt Jojo’s during this Diwali that was wack.

Sweet Jojo loved cooking, only, she sucked at it. She was always cooking from the books and missing some part of it. Measures of ingredients, time of cooking, were all somehow lost on her. Her roast duck gave me a lockjaw last Holi! Then she says I tried to overfeed me with that cement concrete boulder, and that’s why I choked! Ask Maa, she had to go redo all her teeth filling the very next day, but she was way too polite to break her little sister’s heart. Nobody tells her the truth about her cooking lest they should hurt her feelings! With all that mercy Jojo continues to grow from being a bad cook to worse cook till she one day will become the Mike Tyson of bad cooking and kill the whole family with all that love.

Jojo’s unmarried, but is loaded, like, stinking rich and everything! And guess what, she didn’t do anything to score any of it. Back in the time when she was flunking in colleges she came out of a clapped-out surgery for appendicitis with a friggin shank lodged inside her tummy. She sued the doctor and the hospital for a few crores and has been living off its crazy interests ever since. Some luck she’s got! She hasn’t moved a finger since then to score any dough, devoting her time wholly and religiously to divine cooking. Maybe God loved her ‘cause she was inherently so sweet, and trust me; the only problem with her is that she’s so sweet. There’s no way you could say no to her, as she’s dreadfully nice to you. But at times she could also be a real birdbrain. You ask her anything, for instance, you ask her how her checkup went and she’d say, it’s so funny, and say something that was the total opposite of funny, like, it wasn’t as painful as I thought, or some other mundane statement of the year. And you wonder if it’s really over, or if there was more to come, I mean, the “funny" part. But nothing comes. And then suddenly you are even more stunned when, breaking the awkward silence, she laughs like a hyena. Why she does that is still a mystery to me. So this particular Diwali I’m talking about, we were at Jojo’s for dinner. Her house was just a few blocks away from ours, like, also in Bhairav Nagar Colony, and that’s were we usually celebrated Diwali and burst crackers and everything. Her house is filled with tons of paintings of all sorts of naked people, mostly fat ones, in which all the dudes have exceptionally small pee-pees. Some of them have got wings and everything! They’re always running after naked chicks without even noticing that they were all naked. Maybe they were looking for their clothes or something. Anyways they looked like they were all out on some picnic in Mehroonji Park. Before you get the wrong idea, let me tell you, picnics at Mehroonji Park suck like a starved baby. And nobody’s running around naked there, not even in their undies. And every time you went there some bird or the other shat on you. Mehroonji Park is like the bird-toilet of Haisham Bagh where you’d think even the chickens from the butcher’s market walked up to take a dump, ‘cause that’s how crappy the grass there is with all the bird poo. But that’s beside the point. With all that free money she has, every Diwali Jojo bought firecrackers generous enough to bring down the BSNL building at Pachisiya, if you know what I mean. So we all loved to go there for Diwali except for the food. And back then, we hadn’t fallen victim to most of her specialties, and the threat was still very new. It was me, Maa, Paa, Aaliya and Michael Jackson. MJ was Aaliya’s brain damaged dog, a lethargic bullmastiff that barked like a crazy person only when everyone in the colony went to sleep. From the time it came into our family, it went with us everywhere. And the strange part is, it settled for nothing less than the window seat, like, every time, which was kinda my spot before it came into the picture. If you want more proof of its hopelessness, it had a voracious appetite for food cooked by our world-class chef Jojo darling! All those precipitated kheers and carbon black pies were licked to the last stain by MJ. So up until he died, we had no issues disguising our distaste for Jojo’s vision, ‘cause we knew where it sold like a million bucks.

So on the Diwali day, she receives us at the door ballet-style, dressed up like a carnival freak. After all the I-actually-don’t-give-a-damn-but-now-that-you-are-here-whatsup small talks, we are slowly led to her torture chamber- the dining area with the naked people and everything. The spread is ready on the table. Maa and Paa exchange terrified looks when Jojo’s not looking. Once everybody is seated, Maa starts talking like crazy trying to prolong the dinner as much as possible. The funny part is, it’s gonna come sooner or later anyways. Jojo insists that she hasn’t prepared anything new except one- the mutton keema samosa- the new bitch you had to stay away from. But then what happens is, she serves it first. Golly! And guess what, the moment I take a bite into it, I swear, I could say that bite was worth a tetanus shot, it tasted piss poor and instantly gave me a migraine. I noticed Aaliya gagging on her bite as well. Maa chewed real slow like some gangster, and Paa was still holding back. The filling tasted like leather shoes. I couldn’t take it any longer, so I stashed it in my pocket and quickly excused for a leak. Obviously, if I waited till the dinner got over and she saw me leaving with a big bulge in my pocket she’d have caught me right there, and it’d have made her cry. Finding it in the trashcans would also have made her cry. Now you don’t ever wanna make sweet Jojo cry, so I make a pit stop at the staircase closet, which is roughly the only place I could dispense of the shitty keema samosa in between the dining room and the powder room. And don’t ask me why, but I went right in and shoved it inside a cherry bomb box stacked up with other firecrackers inside the closet, planning to chuck it when we’d later take it out to burst. Back at the table I told Aaliya about my operation cherry bomb. She was pissed that I didn’t take along her samosa too. But that was only for a few seconds ‘cause right in the next moment when Jojo was beginning to serve the main course there was a rather loud explosion in the living room. Then there were more explosions, then fire. It was actually deafening. It’s kinda difficult to describe the blast, as it wasn’t one big ‘boooom’ like after bombs go off. There were a number of deadly blasts at the same time that went boom-boom-boom for about five minutes. And trust me, these firecrackers sounds very different when you burst it from inside. It sounded like a bad radio in my ears for a long time after the blast was over. The living area and the staircase were on fire and it was panic inside the dining room. The ladies and Aaliya continued to scream like mad people. Paa yanked out a carpet and treaded towards the calamity area. Then he suddenly noticed something and called out, Oh God! It’s MJ! That’s when we realized Aaliya’s dog was not with us. Michael Jackson was mostly toast. He actually had gone down in the boom. In fact it was he who started the blast! The dumb thing took a bite into the cherry bomb box that had Jojo’s keema delight, can you believe it! As to why exactly he went for it, well, it was kinda too late to keep it a secret anymore! Aaliya had already gone cuckoo by then. First she screams and swears like a war victim’s mother then she yells at me, first you killed Isaac Newton, and now it’s MJ! (Isaac Newton was her gold fish with one eye swollen due to some bacterial infection. All I did was try and help it with a cap of Dettol. And she still doesn’t know if it actually was the lotion that got the stupid fish belly up! She just had to back her blames up with more blames.) This one was a real accident and she’d know it if she’d put a little thought into it. No matter what I say, she believes I fried MJ for the window seats or something.

Jojo was so shaken, but she still has no clue that it was actually her cooking that got a part of her own house torched. She got a restraining order against using firecrackers after the incident, and ever since she looked around over and over before even lighting a cigarette like the CBI was after her. However, all said and done, her creative serial cooking is still at large. But as the venue for Diwali is indefinitely moved back to our house, one only had to stay away from the “love” she sent over a few times every week. And thanks to Michael Jackson, firecrackers got a lifetime ban in the family- even in the families of Maa’s sisters who never spoke to her. Every year on the day of Diwali Aaliya mourned the death of her dog by burning my photograph. She did not talk to me close to a year after the incident, and by the time she did she had already lost it. She confiscated all her Moshi monsters and the Lego minifigures from me. She also took back the Pokémon cards and gave it away to her then friend Kriti Joshi’s boyfriend who, by the way, has the largest collection in Haisham Bagh now. The bitch started an FB community called “We Hate Raza” that now has eleven members. And then finally she divided our room with a red permanent marker, which was okay since it was a fairly large room except one had to be a little careful while entering and exiting as the line stopped right at the middle of the door. Likewise the warzone was established, and my archenemy was thus born.
Also from the ‘Raza’ series;



For the complete RAZA series Click here

1 comment:

  1. Actually it is the opening line that got me hooked. Allow me to make the understatement of the year: You write very well.


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