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Brother, he is just a friend

Shouldn?t be a problem, right, he had asked her cheerily on the phone from Bombay, reports Sushmita Bose.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2007 03:06 IST

Last week, a friend of mine called me up in a state of panic. She’s never believed in getting straight to the point, so here’s what she told me: a friend of hers — a male — was coming to Delhi for a couple of days; he was looking for a job in Delhi, and was pretty sure he’d bag one; he’d planned to stay with his sister during Job Hunt, but sis had to travel on short notice; he didn’t like sis’s in-laws, so he opted instead to stay with his ‘old friend’ — that’s my friend.

Shouldn’t be a problem, right, he had asked her cheerily on the phone from Bombay. Of course not, she had said bravely.

She put the phone down, picked it up again and called me. And railed: “What do I do? My landlord won’t take this kindly: so what that I have an extra couch in the living room, so what that I’m not seeing this guy and we won’t be doing any kind of hanky-panky, so what…”

“Hang on, hang on,” I said, going back to the days when I ghost wrote an agony aunt column in Calcutta. “I’ll give you a way out.”

Tell your landlord, I suggested, that your Big Brother was coming to Delhi for a few days. “Say that he wants to stay with you for a few days so that he can give your mother a status report on you.” In fact, I added, make sure that you introduce your ‘brother’ to these people.

“That’s a great idea,” my friend breathed easy. “My landlord and his wife would love this kind of family melodrama.”

Soon after Big Brother landed up at her place, he was frogmarched to the landlord’s living room — after being apprised of the situation. I was also there: my friend had value-added to my plan, and had asked me to drop by “accidentally”.

“I can’t believe I’m having to do this,” Big Brother muttered looking dazed and confused. “This would never happen in Bombay.”

But he perked up the moment he entered the living room, and played the role of Model Big Brother with method-acting precision: he appeared protective, respectful, ambitious-yet-humble — all at the same time.

I was hugely impressed.

I wasn’t the only one. “Real pleasure to have met you,” said Landlord, thumping Big Brother’s hand up and down. “Whenever you come to Delhi, you must stay with us, no two ways about that — treat this place like your own house.” It was all very nice and funny.

Then, suddenly, Landlord’s wife piped up: “You know beta,” she looked at my friend and Big Brother who were standing side by side. “I would have known a mile away that this boy was your brother: everything about him reminds me of you.”

Brother and Sister were now looking decidedly shaky. I herded them out of the room. We walked up to her apartment in silence “That was bizarre,” contemplated my friend. “Why did she say that? Did this guy overplay his acting skills?”

“Aw, forget that,” said Big Brother. “What I want to know is this: if we ever get married, how will we break the news to them?”

“Hey, listen,” I sat up very straight. “I had no idea that you guys were thinking of getting married.”

“We aren’t,” said Big Brother. “Not as of now – but you never know what two days of living in with this woman is going to do to me.”

“I guess,” sighed my friend, “I’ll have to move out in case we decide to go around. What a pity, I love this house.”

I realised my friend had fallen in love with Big Brother. It all happened while he was playing Big Brother. Not even my days of playing agony aunt had prepared me for this.

Email Sushmita Bose: sushmita.bose@hindustantimes.com