As little girls, my older sister and I wanted to be singers at night-clubs. Our inspirations were Zeenat Aman and Hema Malini, who, in some of their movies crooned disco songs into a mike under flashing strobe lights.

We would make a mike out of several odd objects lying about the house: a bottle of a multi-vitamin tonic, a beheaded doll and the pet dog’s nose. Our dog, Betsy, initially, was upset that we held her snout and sang into it, but, later, she started cooperating. After a while, it was not all that fun to sing into Betsy’s nose, especially when she sneezed right back into our mouths just as our song reached its crescendo.

So, we decided we’d be dancers. Our inspiration was Helen from Sholay. My sister would play Gabbar, sitting on a royal-looking seat especially created using pillows covered with mummy’s brocade sarees. Since we did not have any means to play the song, my sister would sing it herself : in a nice Gabbar plus Jalal Agha kind of role. I would dance, and then pour her some rooh afza via a long-snout Arabian kettle that belonged to my grandmother. Then, my sister would appreciate the performance by flinging a pearl necklace in my direction. It was all going well till, one day, I dropped the kettle on the sofa, the roof afza squirting out in quirky patterns over mummy’s sarees. Both Gabbar and I were spanked and this game was discontinued from that day.

As we grew older, and ‘Betaab’ and ‘Love Story’ hit the silver screen, we wanted to build a cottage in the forest. Since there wasn’t any forest close by, nor any handy material to build a cottage, Gudiya, our friend, advised us that we climb trees and pretend that we were Kumar Gaurav. So, we would climb the mango trees and sit around there being Kumar Gaurav. Now, those of you who were born before 1975 and know who Kumar Gaurav is, this game soon, became too boring.

So, Gudiya devised a new role for me: I was the pretty village belle who had to go out of the cottage to fetch water from the well. I had to put a dupatta over my head, tuck a pot at my waist and make my way to the well, which was at the end of our sprawling garden. While I did that, the others were the village goons, who watched me from their perches on the mango tree and whistled.

It was fun for a while, but that too, became boring.

That is when Gudiya improvised: if I did not walk properly, swaying my waist in an exaggerated manner, like the heroines would, the village goons could beat me with a stick. Goon-in chief was  Gudiya herself, and she was liberal with the stick.

‘Matko, aur matko’, would be the command.

I would try to comply even if it meant looking like a nervous jalebi from a novice-halwaai’s trembling hands.

I would, then, get the stick.

After few sharp raps on my bottom, I decided enough was enough and ran away crying.

For more, read DIGS, DOGS and DRAMA (available on Flipkart and Amazon)

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