The only thing missing from the guitar adorning our bedroom wall is a garland. It’s as good as dead otherwise. At times, I wish the wall would just open up and gobble it up, a la Sita mayya. A recent dialogue with my wife only made me think how to make this wish come true.

One quiet evening, as I happened to glance up from my poker game, I saw my wife’s gaze settling on this unsettling piece of old memories. Nostalgia sometimes stinks!

I shuddered as I heard her asking, “Why don’t you start learning to play the guitar again?”

“It is a hobby that requires great powers of concentration and greater amounts of practice. I have got neither the time nor the mind to do it”, pat came my answer.

Akin to Sherlock Holmes, her gaze had given her away and I had earned an additional 5 seconds to form my answer. Who does she think I am anyway, Eric Clapton? Round 1 to Sherlock, or so I thought.

“So, does it take more concentration and time than you usually spend on that stupid poker game on the PC or on FaceBook?” asked my wife and I understood, immediately, that Sherlock never handled a situation of marital duress.

“You mean this game of poker?” I answered laughingly, feeling color rise into my cheeks, “this is just a stupid card game that is programmed on random logic. What concentration would this require?”

“But that’s what you said it does require the other day when you refused to get up from the PC to make tea for my mother!” she stormed.

Even when she is not around, the mother-in-law makes sure she is a topic of discussion. This game of verbal volleys, however, was fast becoming an engineering mechanics exam, with lots of out-of-syllabus questions.

To avoid ruining the fine fish I had just had for dinner, I stopped playing, the game anyway ruined. I even began to shut down the PC, hoping this would pacify her. Alas, 11 years and I still haven’t got used to my wife’s ability to find a gap, like Roger Federer, even from the tightest of corners.

“Ok, so how about singing”, she hollered, dropping the guitar and taking up another touchy subject.

Sometimes, when uncomfortable topics come up, nightmarish faces start floating in front of my face. This time round, for no reason at all, the extreme close up of Shankar Mahadevan’s rotund face, laughing like the devil, popped up.

“What about singing?” I asked just as a feeling of hopelessness began enveloping me, as if the dementors from Harry Potter had landed up in Chembur. Someone call up Azkaban, please! L

“Well, you once said you like to sing. Since you have so much free time, why not learn singing then?”

The one amazing quality women, and especially wives, posses is that they can use whatever you have said against you in an argument. The sad part is they always use it out of context and usually when you have completely forgotten about it. This was one of those poignant moments.

“What free time?” I asked, feigning indignation, “I am a consultant and as such have got …”

“That’s what I said, you have so much free time”, she said cutting me short, “Why don’t you take up singing. It will reduce your stress and give you a chance to earn some real money.”

Before I could even completely open my mouth, she continued, “Why don’t you at least give it a try? Only yesterday we saw that no-talent win in Voice of India. He will become a playback singer and earn loads of money. And anyway, you do sing very well.” she added, as an afterthought.

Voice of India is not held in our bathroom, I wanted to tell her, but restrained myself.

Instead, I soothingly told her, “Baby, who will make me a playback singer? Look at those contestants. Some are even half my age. Also I am not trained in singing. You love me, therefore you like my voice.” I topped this off with my most romantic smile (fingers crossed behind my back!).

“Well, you once said that if Himesh can sing, so can you. And even Kishore Kumar was not a trained singer!!” Game-Set-Match Wife.

There was more to come though. “Also, didn’t you once say that your singing is ripening like old wine and sounds better now than it did before?” Me and my big mouth!

As I slipped into the bed, I told her “Look, how much ever you say, people are not going to like my singing and don’t say Himesh Reshammiya and Kishore Kumar in the same breath ever again.”

There, I thought, I had finally managed to douse the fire.

“You never listen to whatever useful advice I give you. Go to hell.” She said and turned the other way.

That’s where I am, I wanted to tell her, but then what hadn’t happened in the last 11 years, was definitely not going to happen tonight. So yet again, I kept my trap shut.

But I almost fell off from my side of the bed when, just as I was making an escape under the bed covers, I heard her saying “Why don’t you think about doing an MBA?”

I quickly switched off the lights, closed my eyes and cursed myself for not having thrown the guitar away when I had the chance. I made a promise to myself to give it away to any of my near or distant relatives or friends or the first passing stranger or even the society sweeper, the first chance I get.

Nostalgia, sometimes, definitely stinks!

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