A message on cell phone ruined my entire day. It was one of my wife's close friends, reminding me of an accident that I was trying to forget-my seventh wedding anniversary.
I had not wished my wife in the morning and she knew her friend had called me. She wasn't just upset. "Outing, movie, second-honeymoon package?" I asked her. She declined every option. Even the diamond in the print advertisement didn't catch her fancy. The choice of gift was now up to her.
She put her arms around me and asked for the seventh gas cylinder, as all the stipulated six had gone empty on account of the wedding season.
"You could have asked for anything on this auspicious day. I would have brought you the stars?" I said. She nodded and said she'd be happy if I just fulfilled her small wish.
"Child's play," I said, and punched the number of Verma Ji, who is head of many organisations, very capable, and ever ready to help. At the seventh try, he answered my call. "Spatu Ji, how may I serve you?" "A cooking-gas cylinder of any company would do, to serve my kitchen and Kirran," I said. "Spatu Ji…," the voice came from deep sea, "ask for anything else."
I now rang up one of my old chums and found he had imagined that instead I could help him. Next was to try the gas agency. The telephone attendant first tested my knowledge of the government's new gas-cylinder policy, and then listed the conditions I needed to fulfil.
He told me I'd have to agree to regular safety check of the gas stove and cylinder. Trying shortcut as usual, I offered to bribe the deliveryman. He begged a pardon. "Babu Ji, ab sakhti ho gayee hai, jab se chhay-cylider policy ayee hai (Sir, strictness is on since the six-cylinder policy is official)," he said.
My better half, watching all my moves, teased me that for all my connections, I couldn't arrange a petty item. "Tum se acchey to Sharma Ji hain, jo chutkiyon me sab kaam karva lete hain (Your colleague, Sharma Ji, is more resourceful). You made me seven promises at the time of wedding. Were those false? If not, today is the day to fulfil one, as we have a wedding anniversary party at home in the evening."
I called up Singla Ji, known to all as ultimate "jugadu (Mr fix-it-all)". "How did you remember me after so many years," he said on telephone. "Is it about the police, the PGI, or the Estate Office; otherwise, you'd never call?" I told him what the call was about, and he said he could buy me big companies, huge lands… anything but a seventh cylinder.
Wife mentioned Sharma Ji again, just to get me jealous, and told me how he brought fancy cars, latest gadgets, and all the important guests home on birthdays and festivals. I cursed the government for spoiling my wedding anniversary, one that I had almost done well to forget.
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