I ploughed the razor through the grey stubble on my face and applied a little aftershave lotion, admiring the smooth and shining skin that emerged, while at the same time nursing a narcissistic urge to ask the mirror on the wall, if I was the ‘handsomest of them all’.
As usual, my wife was around, and available for her expert comments. But this time, I put it to her differently, since I knew how she would react to my “silly, stupid and self-seeking query” — the same way as I put it. I asked her, “Well, darling, who among the film actors, do you think, should I identify myself with?”
“Hmmm... you can perhaps draw parallels between yourself and some police-wala,” she wise-cracked, while I thought: why should I belong to the “police-wala” category, and not liken myself to at least an officer?
Anyhow, I pleaded, “Not professionally, dear, but looks-wise!”
“Okay, you can say, um, a Devdas-type,” she suggested.
“Dilip Kumar or Shahrukh Khan?” I asked, feel rather flattered.
“Come on, both look like monks!” she chuckled.
“Be serious, yaar,” I beseeched, with my eyes still staring deep into the mirror, as if to make a hole of real philosophical communion through it, to reach the virtual wall of rock-reality.
It was my turn now, to suggest and seek a confirmation, since the ‘frankness’ in my wife’s observation seemed to be assuming dangerous proportions. Very demurely, I asked, “Can’t I compare myself to the chocolate types like Dev Anand and Amir Khan?”
“No way! Nowhere near them!” my wife dashed off every hope, with one strong stroke — less of disapproval, more out of disgust.
Enough was enough. But I did not intend bringing to such abrupt and disparaged end, an issue of immense personal import and esteem. And I fired the last salvo by naming garam-Dharam, whose Casanova looks have enabled him to remain a hot favourite among women of all ages.
Mercifully, and much to my relief, she sided with me this time, saying, “You are taller, dear. But Dharmender, all through, has flaunted a paunch, too.”
There I was again. One last attempt: “Why can’t you name one, and the last one, for me?
“Okay,” she gave in, “In that case, since you are rough and tough, and strappingly straight, you can call yourself, um, Tarzan!”
That somehow did strike in me a desire to leap out of the balcony of the fourth floor on to the potted plants down below, shouting “Oua, oua, oua, oua!”