“Look, I don’t mean to offend you or anything – but I need to confirm one thing. If you don’t mind, can I ask you something?” The voice that had been exuding charm and promise for quite some time now, dropped to a hoarse, tentative whisper.
“Go on,” I replied sullenly, half-expecting another well-meaning inquiry into my sleeping patterns and partners.
“You are not into prostitution, are you?”
In many ways, I have often reflected, my girlfriend is akin to God. Like the Almighty, she is shapeless and formless – effortlessly switching forms, from my world touring co-worker, a close friend from college to a distant estranged relative, as I strive to sneak her into my flat from under the frosty glares of my neighbours. Over the years, as an unfortunate consequence of the same, my otherwise anthropomorphic girlfriend has acquired the traits of various animals on God’s green earth. Take for instance her predisposition to scurry on rooftops like a feral cat, as I engage my enthusiastic neighbours in a gripping conversation about their boy wonder’s recent exploits; or when she’s lying motionless in the corner of the room like a possum, waiting for my neighbour’s curiosity to subside [who has just awoken to “strange voices in your flat” and wouldn’t otherwise heed my dying cries for water.] On really bad days though, she just crouches in the darkness like Batman.
Despite (only) a partially accurate portrayal of my character, it took a while for the atypical enquiry of my flatmate to sink in. Meanwhile, it made for a slightly disconcerting situation, what with the phone being on speaker and all. By the time my venerated colleagues could open their mouth to speak, I had already bolted from the meeting room. With great difficulty, I gathered my wits and countered, “Now, why would you ask me that?”
“You know, you won’t believe what people are up to these days. When you said you drank, you smoked and did everything possible…”
“I am quite sure, I didn’t mean prostitution. I am from a middle class family, my adventures were very much limited to Friday nights on Doordarshan.”
“Oh thank God! You know, just come over!”
Order and sanity was restored to the world, as the characteristic cheeriness returned to his voice.
Late that night when I recounted the mildly harrowing conversation, my girlfriend was quiet for a long while. At length, when prodded for a reaction, she stirred and muttered ominously, “It’s a new city. New people. I hope you don’t end up behaving like a typical boyfriend, gawking at other girls.”
I sighed inwardly. Of course, like most typical boyfriends, the remainder of the night was to be meticulously distributed across: a) reminding her how she was the most beautiful girl on the planet (which was true), b) the timelessness of our love and c) the importance of not letting her frantic phone calls go unrequited.
These are critical assets, for any true gentleman.