For every story, usually there is a hero and there is a villain. 

What if, a story had an official rule for a villain? A rule that was made by the very knowledgeable caretakers of this nation for a greater common good?

A rule that made our hero Keshavan Satamaari fret and fume for days together! 

Before we get to know more about this hero and his villain, perhaps it is time for a little flashback.

Keshavan or Kesh as he loved to be called, was older of the twins. Kesh was brash, restless and filled with nervous energy. Laalitya, the other twin, as her name suggested, was gentle, loving and chirpy. She was lady like and he was all brawn. Kesh found Laali’s grace grating. He was always up to some mischief, pulling and pushing his sister. Mother had a terrible time bringing up these two. As they grew up, Laali figured out the necessity of physical power and enrolled into karate classes. Few belts down the lane, she was ready to give it back to ‘Big Bro’. 

Much wiser Kesh now kept his distance safe from Laali.

Wise ones have always said, twins are soulmates, they look after each other. But here, they hated the very sight of each other. So they grew up under the same roof as perfect strangers, as they avoided each other, for inner peace. 

This arrangement meant less fights to settle for mother though she hated the very idea of their mutual animosity. She prayed for a miracle that would change this status quo.

Years zipped past. Soon the twins completed college, gained different sets of expertise and became the taxpaying citizens of this great country. Eventually they both thawed.

Oh! By the way, I forgot to mention that Keshavan had a pet peeve. 

His crowning glory! His hair was his one and only passion and the world came much after that. He earned his moniker “Kesh” after his friends came to know the lengths he went to protect his hair. Oil massages, spas, products, best saloons and so on. No one was allowed to touch his fancy combs or shampoos. All industrial scale. No expense was too much and no effort was too little. Every fallen strand created a world war three equivalent mental havoc. Tsunami was declared at home that day. 

Mother screamed blue murder each time Kesh came back with new fancy hair serum. After all they were the salaried class and they couldn’t afford to waste hard earned money on frivolous foreign stuff. Whenever mother let go, Kesh silently pointed out to the shining pate of his father and to the shining pates of the forefathers staring down at them from the ever blackening walls (with all those arthis). 

Baldness was a family tradition that was passed down generations without fail. Kesh was determined to break this stark trend. He promised his mother he would go to his grave with head full of hair. He wasn’t going to be a ‘Bald Kesh’ How oxymoronic would that be?

Mother would then silently suffer while Laali tittered. Laali could afford to. She had the luxuriant lustrous hair that needed no upkeep.

I guess one up for her. Somewhat God’s way of evening out with the bully.

One of the very first things that Kesh invested in, after finding gainful employment was  a shining new Nano. He couldn’t risk public transport you see. Dirt and grime were sworn enemies of healthy follicles. Healthy follicles meant super shiny hair and zero hair fall. Science said so! Mother had an epileptic fit. Her anger was simply pooh-poohed and an auspicious day, Dhanno (the new Nano) was brought home by Kesh.

Slowly even mother warmed unto Dhanno once she discovered that the registration number added up to 9, her favourite number. 

Laali was her father’s pet. She had to just ask father and he would even bring her the moon. With Dhanno in the house, NCR being what it is as far as women’s safety is concerned, she was not going to use the public transport for work. As the designer of her apparel house, she had regular meetings with clients strewn across town. How could she travel around and yet be safe? She too needed her own car.

Poor father!

Soon father brought home the Rajdhani Express (another Nano) and presented it to his princess. The number plate added up to a neat 2. Laali’s favourite band was U2 and Kesh sulked “Et Tu”. 

Mother stricken with anger, decided to go on a silent satyagraha. No one really minded so long as their food was on the table. Everyone pretended to be terribly busy with life, stayed out of mother’s path.

Laali zipped around in her Rajdhani, Father fussed on his princess, Kesh fretted on his hair and mother ran a tight ship, cutting corners. All was honky dory and life went by till the new regime, alarmed with the smog levels in NCR, came up with the odd-even rule.

Paradise Lost!

Kesh felt sickened as he read all about this new rule. Out of the possible ten days of work, five days he could use his car. The remaining five made him squirm. He wasn’t going the public transportation way – no metro, no bus. His precious strands wouldn’t be able to take the undue stress of shared conveyance. All that grime and sweat! Eeks! His work schedule meant no car pooling. Though the cab services had come up with some savers, still they were prohibitively expensive. Imagine the number of hair spas that could be had with that kind of money. 

And then the penny dropped. 

Laali had an even numbered car and he had an odd numbered vehicle. They both went to work around the same area. In fact mother would often grumble “why two cars for the same area?” Only problem was getting Laali to comply. They hadn't been the best of friends for a while now. She needed some serious work. 

Kesh bought Laali’s favourite perfume and presented it to her with much fanfare. Laali looked at it very carefully, after confirming that there wasn’t any booby trap attached to it, blurted “What gives?”

“This odd -even rule...”

“I am exempted.”

“I know Laali, I won’t beat around the bush. I will come straight to the point. I need you to drop and pick me up from office on even days. Why waste money when we both go to the same area?”

“Oh seriously? Why should I?”

“Because I know that you want to go out with a Punjabi Dhawan and not the Madhavan of mother’s dreams, to the New Year’s party at your office. Just imagine the repercussions if mother were to know. I am willing to be your alibi, if you drive me around for five days.”

“What? But…But how do you know Kesh?”

“Just because we aren't exactly best buddies, doesn't mean that I don’t know what’s happening with you! You are my sister and I keep my eyes on you. So…?”

“Not Interested...”

“Oh Really Laali, Mother! You know what?”

“Sush Kesh! Firstly you need to apologize for your misbehaviour all along and promise me that you will be nicer to me henceforth. No going back on your word. Alright? Secondly the alibi! Thirdly, I need a new dress.”

Kesh did furious mental maths. It was turning out to be an expensive deal. Still, it was good to be nice to each other. After all the crowning glory needed big commitments and huge sacrifices. Who knew, when he would need her help again?

“You need to stick to my budget for your dress. The rest, Scout’s honour ! You got a deal, Laali.” 

As Kesh hugged his twin sister, he thought, 

“Finally, the alpha wall has been breached. Just what were the odds huh?”

Laali thought to herself, “We mango people do get our moments under the sun. Eventually it all evens out.”

And oddly Paradise Regained! 


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Anupama Jain

Member Since: 30 Apr, 2014


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