I could listen to bawdy stuff without turning a hair, my newspaper office being full of intellectuals whose sole pastime was cracking smutty jokes.
All through college, I had also read enough of hot sleaze as a result of foraging second-hand books on
Street and Karol Bagh pavements and borrowing from
the British Council Library.
My family knew I loved books, right from my school days. A natural progression had been my Master’s in English literature, again much of which was not exactly Victorian.
So I was no stranger to innuendo and double entendre, but in conservative families such as ours, these are taboo when you are in the company of elders or young daughters and sons.
There was great excitement when I, newly wed, went over to my parental home for a night.
After dinner, I sat chatting with my parents and an aunt, uncle and their daughter-in-law. We talked about my marriage ceremony, how the wedding guests had behaved, my new home, and my honeymoon destination … the destination, mind you, not how the honeymoon went.
I knew what I was going to do would shock them, but a mischievous imp just made me go ahead with it.
For the first time ever, I sang. I sang a naughty Punjabi lyric my husband had taught me on our honeymoon.
Even before I had finished reciting the song, the two sisters were blushing to the roots of their hair. My very, very shy sister-in-law had muttered something about the dishes and scooted from the scene.
There was pin-drop silence.
The men didn’t know where to look.
When no reaction was forthcoming, I asked nonchalantly: “Excuse me, what’s the matter? It’s just a song that bangle sellers sing!”
The foursome gaped at me, and cackled. “Yes, yes, of course, the bangle sellers indeed!”
I joined in the laughter before beating a hasty retreat, for now I could feel the colour creeping into my cheeks. As I stepped out, I heard my embarrassed aunt say, “What are the times coming to?”
Uncle retorted: “Come on, be happy. She’s obviously had a great honeymoon!”
I heard them break into raucous laughter.
Still, I’m sure they were also squirming inside, unable to accept just yet that the daughter of the house was suddenly no longer shy of discussing sex.
But I hadn’t talked sex. It was all in their minds.
And even if I had, what the heck … hadn’t I just got married!
I might not have recalled this for years, perhaps, but for the contest. Thanks, Yashodhara.