Some six years back when we had shifted to Bombay we weren’t familiar with hang out places and only decent one near our place was this market verandah with a couple of eateries , a coffee shop , florist and …pandey paanwala.. initially we used to go to the market once , twice or sometimes more every week and have snacks , coffee , dinner ..whatever and at the end of it all , always have paan …Pandeyji is from our part of the world and we became friends … though after a while we stopped going there as often , we still ended up at his shop at least once a week ..N would end up there more often …
So with Pandeyji we are on friendly terms … but so much I never realized..
it so happened that one day some 7/8 months back N came out of the ATM to see Pandeyji in the queue … they exchanged pleasantries and Pandeyji asked N – haven’t seen you at our shop for a while, sahib ?
The sahib? replied – oh I have given up smoking , so I avoid ur shop lest I give in to temptations … sidebar : this was during that time ,which happens every six months, where N quits smoking for a week.. but during that week my darling acts as if he hasn’t smoked for 7 years …
men na !!
Anyway , what happened after that was , so wonderful (according to N) and so so weird (according to me) … Pandeyji clutched his hand and congratulated him .. then he went on to hug N , blessing him on the most wonderful act he has done.. "smoking kills , you know … I am so impressed …and proud" I am sure N has added a little mirch masala to it ."I was his hero that day’ .. "I think he had a little tear in his eyes”…ah well, the crux is that Pandeyji was happy and proud of N and N was very flattered and pleased with that …
Now as is his habit, N must have started smoking immediately after the drama …
but he could not muster up enough courage to tell Pandey ji ..
So since then, whenever he goes to Pandey ji’s place, he never buys any cigarettes.. and every time Pandey ji congratulates him … ‘I shrink a little every time , when I hear him telling people how wonderful and strong I am’ .. ya , he shrinks n all but laps it up all the same and says nothing ..
Last week we went to his shop and realized that the cigarettes were finished and it was 1:30 pm and there was no other shop open … N refused to buy it from Pandeyji … so I went ahead and bought a packet…. Pandey ji was not pleased, he went on to lecture me on how I should be more like my husband ..'I tell everyone about him, and how much will power he has’
I didn’t see my man shrink, rather he kept agreeing with him….
I would have told Pandeyji the truth, but N has taken it too far now and I didn’t want to be part of a drama sequence between him and Pandeyji …
like N was saying the other day – how can I do this to him … he is like a paanwaala I never had , but always wished for..
seriously what is with men and their paanwaalas , bartender, barber and the types… they are more worried about hurting their feeling than they are worried about their father's or wife's feelings..
“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter.” so i intend to write the words. again . here. with honesty. for myself.